a gathering of the tribes

Upcoming Fly By Night Press release: LIVING WITHOUT SKIN by Gabriel Don

Upcoming Fly By Night Press release: LIVING WITHOUT SKIN by Gabriel Don

This is Gabriel Don. Her light cannot be kept in a jar. Her words turn lead into gold. Don’t mess with her babies — she will G check you without a posse. She is Queen Elizabeth I encamped at Tilbury, she is Isis piecing Osiris together, she is dangerous and vulnerable and powerful. Powerful because vulnerable. This is Gabriel Don’s first collection and she doesn’t mean business; she means “Oh Henry you can’t be so clumsy with your cock.” Don’t let the politeness fool you.

- Sharon Mesmer, Polish-American poet, fiction writer, essayist and professor of creative writing

Did ‘Hamilton’ Get the Story Wrong? One Playwright Thinks So (The New York Times)

Did ‘Hamilton’ Get the Story Wrong? One Playwright Thinks So (The New York Times)

The 15 or 20 minutes before the performance ticked by the same way they do on nights when Rome Neal presides over jazz at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. But this time Mr. Neal was directing a reading of a play. It takes aim at the sensation that is the theatrical juggernaut “Hamilton” and its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda,” Ishmael Reed Revives an Old Debate (The New Yorker)

In “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda,” Ishmael Reed Revives an Old Debate (The New Yorker)

Consensus and bipartisanship seem like a distant fantasy in today’s America. “Hamilton,” the musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda that débuted in 2015 and is well on its way to becoming a billion-dollar production, is a rare source of general accord. 

Searching for American Truth

Searching for American Truth

Over the past several years there has been a number of American history books that have taken up the task of providing the reading public with a grand narrative of who and what we are as Americans.

History Becomes Her Story (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins Joe Crowley’s 14th district)

History Becomes Her Story  (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins Joe Crowley’s 14th district)

If history repeats itself then the story of conquering Hernan Cortes is on the shelf while pol, Joe Crowley‘s hunkering down. She’d said she wouldn’t back the candidate if she should entertain defeat, but campaigned like a potentate, as capable as she seemed sweet.

Finding Modernism in Venice

Finding Modernism in Venice

Canals filled with turquoise water instead of streets bustling with cars and bicycles come to mind when I think of Venice. Joseph Brodsky’s essay Watermark (1993) resonates deeply with the visitor, as does a watery dream conjured by Robert Altman: I was immediately reminded of his film, 3 Women (1977) upon arrival. Brodsky only visited Venice in December for he longed to celebrate the beginning of a new year with “a wave hitting the shore at midnight.” He explained “that, to me, is time coming out of water.”  Brodsky also described the city as being “part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers” and he described the canal-side structures as “upright lace.” Brodsky, born in Leningrad, was exiled from his homeland due to his “having a worldview damaging to the state, decadence and modernism, failure to finish school, and social parasitism . . . except for the writing of awful poems” (Brodsky went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987). He thought of Venice as the closest incarnation of Eden and “the greatest masterpiece our species produced.”

Black Male Writers for our Time (New York Times)

Black Male Writers for our Time (New York Times)

Through the institutional cultural cache garnered during these many moments, our literary ancestors carved pathways to success. Harlem Renaissance writers parlayed white patronage to create inroads to the apparatus of publishing. The Black Arts Movement brought about radical changes in university curriculums. New institutions were founded, including New York City’s Medgar Evers College, providing black writers with access to the support and stability of academia. The poet Gregory Pardlo points to the rise of the New York and Chicago slam poetry scenes in the ’80s as a conduit for many writers, including the novelist Paul Beatty. Jacobs-Jenkins discusses ’90s-era evolutions in black writing that produced “an incredible sea change of influence,” when writers like August Wilson and Toni Morrison “achieved black arts excellence and major status in the same breath.”