Poetry Reading featuring Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Natalie Diaz, and Aja Monet: April 26

Poetry reading featuring

Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Natalie Diaz, and Aja Monet

in conversation with
ARC Poetry & the Senses Fellows reelaviolette botts-ward and Ken Ueno

Monday, April 26, 2021 

4:30-6:00pm PDT

This event took place on ARC YouTube Channel. Watch the video recording here.

Read the blog post review on the event here!

This event was funded by Engaging the Senses Foundation and co-sponsored by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, the Center for Race & Gender, and the Department of Ethnic Studies.

Special Note: The Arts Research Center and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs were delighted to welcome Natalie Diaz on campus this spring. ARC hosted hosting Diaz in a Poetry Reading with Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Aja Monet (as part of our multi-year Poetry and the Senses Program) on April 26 (for details, click here), and the ICCTP hosted Diaz in conversation with indigenous intellectual, activist and artist Ailton Krenak on May 21 (for details, click here).

During National Poetry Month, the Arts Research Center was thrilled to host a reading with three of America’s most compelling poets: Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Natalie Diaz, and Aja Monet, on Monday, April 26, 2021 at 4:30pm PDT. Following their individual readings, they were in conversation with Poetry & the Senses fellows Ken Ueno and reelaviolette botts-ward. This event was live streamed on ARC’s YouTube channel, and live captioned. All of ARC’s programs are free and open to the public.

During spring 2021, ARC celebrated a semester-long festival of poetry exploring the theme of emerge/ncy: voices to carry with us in times of crisis, with group readings every month, and short flash readings released online. These events were generously funded by Engaging the Senses Foundation, and are part of ARC’s Poetry & the Senses initiative.

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was born in Beijing and grew up in Massachusetts. She is the author of fourteen books of poetry, most recently, A Treatise on Stars, which received the Bollingen PRize and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award and the Kingsley-Tufts Award.  She has collaborated with other artists in dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. She lives in northern New Mexico and New York City.

Natalie Diaz is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press, and her second book, Postcolonial Love Poem,  was published by Graywolf Press in March 2020. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow, a United States Artists Ford Fellow, and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. Diaz is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Aja Monet is a surrealist blues poet, storyteller, and organizer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She won the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam poetry award title in 2007 and follows in the long legacy and tradition of poets participating and assembling in social movements. Her first full collection of poems is titled, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter on Haymarket Books. Her poems explore gender, race, migration, and spirituality. In 2018, she was nominated for a NAACP Literary Award for Poetry and in 2019 was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetry for her cultural organizing work in South Florida. She cofounded Smoke Signals Studio and facilitates “Voices: Poetry for the People,” a workshop and collective in collaboration with Community Justice Project and Dream Defenders. Aja Monet also serves as the new Artistic Creative Director for VDay, a global movement to end violence against all women and girls.

reelaviolette botts-ward is a homegirl, an educator, and a nontraditional multimedia artist from Philadelphia, PA. She is currently a doctoral candidate in African Diaspora Studies researching Black women’s healing spaces in Oakland. ree centers “everyday round the way Blackgirl methodology” to theorize creative innovation in the wake of displacement. Founder of blackwomxnhealing, ree curates healing circles and exhibitions for and by Black womxn, using Black feminist poetics and artistry as tools for translation between academic and community audiences. Her first book, mourning my inner[blackgirl]child, will be published with Nomadic Press in 2021. blackwomxnhealing.com / @blackwomxnhealing.

Rome Prize and Berlin Prize winner Ken Ueno is a composer, vocalist and sound artist. Ueno’s collaborators include the Hilliard Ensemble, Kim Kashkashian and Robyn Schulkowsky, Steve Schick and SFCMP, and Frances-Marie Uitti. As a vocalist, he has performed his concerto with orchestras in Boston, New York, Poland, Lithuania, Thailand, North Carolina, and California. His sound installations have been installed at MUAC, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Art Basel, and at SCI-Arc.  Ueno is currently a Professor in Music at UC Berkeley.  His bio appears in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. www.kenueno.com