Ark of Bones: Reading and Discussion of Henry Dumas

Monday, November 7, 2016
Gallery Aferro
73 Market Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Through a reading of selections from and a discussion of the late Henry Dumas's influential short story "Ark of Bones" and his other works, writers and critics Evie Shockley and Carter Mathes (Rutgers-New Brunswick) and John Keene (Rutgers-Newark) will explore the connections between the late author's imaginative writing and the cultural ferment behind Kea Tawana's Ark of Newark. Shockley, Mathes and Keene will delve into Dumas's and Kea's critical reimaginings of mid-century urbanism, and the visionaries' grounding of their works in the art of the vernacular.


Evie Shockley is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.  She is the author of Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa, 2011), and several collections of poetry, most recently including the new black (Wesleyan, 2011), winner of the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, and semiautomatic (Wesleyan, forthcoming 2017).  Her poems and essays have appeared internationally in such journals and anthologies as Boston Review, boundary 2, American Periodicals, Poetry, Best American Poetry 2015, Best American Experimental Writing 2015, Callaloo, Contemporary Literature, Los Angeles Review of Books, pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Art & Culture, and What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America. Her honors include the 2015 Stephen Henderson Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Poetry and the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize, and her work has been supported by fellowships from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the American Council of Learned Societies, as well as residencies from Hedgebrook, the MacDowell Colony, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She serves as creative writing editor for Feminist Studies.

Carter Mathes is a specialist in African American Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, and African Diaspora Studies. His first book, Imagine the Sound: Experimental African American Literature After Civil Rights (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) focuses on the relationship between sound and literary innovation during the 1960s and 1970s. He has also co-edited (with Mae G. Henderson) a volume on Black Arts Movement writer and critic Larry Neal, “Don’t Say Goodbye to the Porkpie Hat”: The Larry Neal Critical Reader (University of Illinois Press, 2017). Currently, he is directing the Rutgers Advanced Institute for Critical Caribbean Studies, and is beginning a study of black radical thought in literature and music as it moves between Jamaica and the United States during the second half of the twentieth-century. His next project will focus on issues of race, literary form, and political critique in post-1945 American literature. He has published essays in Small Axe, Contemporary Literature, Callaloo, and African American Review.

John Keene is the author of the novel Annotations (New Directions); the art-text collection Seismosis (1913 Press) with artist Christopher Stackhouse; the short fiction collection Counternarratives (New Directions), which was named to "Best Fiction of 2015" lists and received a 2016 American Book Award; and the art-text collaboration with photographer Nicholas Muellner, GRIND (ITI Press).  He has also published a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer (Nightboat Books / A Bolha Editora), and has exhibited his artwork in Brooklyn and Berlin.  A longtime member of the Dark Room Writers Collective and a graduate fellow of Cave Canem, he currently serves on the board of the African Poetry Book Fund, and teaches in the departments of English and African American and African Studies, which he chairs, and also is a core faculty member in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, at Rutgers University-Newark.

Photograph (c) Robert Foster, courtesy SPACES - Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments.

This program is presented by Gallery Aferro, the Department of African American and African Studies at Rutgers University-Newark, and the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience and funded by the NJ Historical Commission, and the NJ Council on the Humanities.