february, 2022

27feb2:30 pm4:00 pmVirtual EventA Tribute to Russell Atkins

Event Details

Cave Canem invites you to celebrate this Black History Month by joining us in A Tribute to Russell Atkins. Poet, playwright, and composer, Atkins’ work has had a devoted following since the 1950s, but he has found new audiences in the 21st century. At soon-to-be 96, Atkins has survived an extortionate conservatorship–during which time legally-appointed guardians went quickly through money earned from the resale of his family home, burned all his papers (opera, drama, poetry, journals, and correspondence with Langston Hughes and Marianne Moore)–and COVID19. Join us in honoring the tenacious artistry and longevity of this innovative virtuoso. 

Readings will be given by Janice Lowe, Daniel Gray-Kontar and Julie Ezelle Patton, along with a rare performance of Atkins’ “Objects for Piano” by pianist, Milena Gligić.

Russell Atkins’ collections of poetry include the chapbooks and small-press books A Podium Presentation (1960), Phenlomena (1961), Objects (1963), Objects 2 (1964), Heretofore (1968), The Nail, to Be Set to Music (1970), Maleficium(1971), and Whichever(1978). He also wrote two verse-plays or “poems in play forms”: The Abortionist and The Corpse, both published in Free Lance. His only full-length collection, Here in The (1976), was published by the Cleveland State Poetry Center. Russell Atkins: On the Life & Work of an American Master (2013), was edited by Kevin Prufer and Michael Dumanis, and included a large selection of Atkins’ previously published work and essays from poets on his continuing influence. World’d Too Much: Selected Poems of Russell Atkins, edited by Kevin Prufer and Robert E. McDonough, was published in 2019.

Janice A. Lowe, composer and poet, was honored to write the foreword for WORLD’D TOO MUCH, Selected Poetry of Russell Atkins. Lowe’s musical LIL BUDDA, text by Stephanie L. Jones, was presented by the NAMT Festival of New Musicals and the O’Neill Musical Theater Conference. Her music-poetry works have been performed at Bop Stop, Jazz Festival Berlin, University of Cambridge, and the Arts for Art Peace & Justice Celebration. She composed music for the plays DOOR OF NO RETURN by Nehassaiu DeGannes (Shakespeare & Co.) and Jenni Lamb’s CLAIRMOUNT (Stage West-Chicago.) Lowe has performed with bands including Anne Waldman & Fast Speaking Music, Digital Diaspora and Julie Ezelle Patton’s Rock, Paper, Twister. She composed musical settings of the McKoy Twins section of Tyehimba Jess’s OLIO, (joint Creative Capital award.) She is also the composer of LEAVING CLE SONGS, a song cycle based on her debut poetry collection. Lowe’s poems have appeared in numerous journals including Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing, Interim Poetics, and Solidarity Texts: Radiant Re-Sisters. Lowe was a co-founding member of The Dark Room Collective. She performs and records with her ensemble, NAMAROON. Her work has been recognized by The Rauschenberg Foundation and City Artists Corps. http://www.janicelowe.com/

Daniel Gray-Kontar is a poet, teacher, youth mentor, rapper, journalist, and education activist. He has worked as an advocate for social transformation in the city of Cleveland for more than 25 years. Gray-Kontar is an education consultant for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; writer-in-residence at MOCA Cleveland; the former chair of the Literary Arts Department at the Cleveland School of the Arts; and a former graduate school fellow at UC Berkeley’s College of Education. His work in arts education has been showcased on PBS Newshour, The UK Guardian, NPR, and The Christian Science Monitor, among other news media outlets. Gray-Kontar has lectured at universities, public schools, arts organizations, and scholarly conferences across the US. His Ted Talk discussing youth leadership in public school education has affected the ways public school administrators think about the inclusion of youth and their families in the process of re-making school cultures and curricula.

Julie Ezelle Patton (permaculturist, poet, performer, visual artist) is the author of Using Blue To Get Black, Notes for Some (Nominally) Awake, and A Garden Per Verse (or What Else do You Expect from Dirt?), The Building by the SIde of the Road, and Teething on Type.  Julie’s work has appeared in((eco (lang)(uage(reader)), Critiphoria, I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues), About Place Journal: Rust Belt Tales, and other noted publications.  “B”, her much anticipated collection of “phonemenological” explorations, is forthcoming from Tender Buttons Press in the Spring of 2015. “Room for Opal,” an art installation Julie created as a Green Horizons Fellow at Bates College, is lovingly explored in Jonathan Skinner’s “Listening with Patton” (ON: Contemporary Practice, 2008). Julie’s performance work, featured at the Stone, Jazz Standard, and other noted international venues, emphasizes improvisation, collaboration, and other worldy chora-graphs. She has shape-shifted into a cat-witch for Lee Ann Brown and Tony Torn’s Sop Doll: A Jack Tale Noh, Desdemona in Uri Caine’s 2009 Grammy nominated, and a ring-tone for Ravi Coltrane’s At Night). “Let It Bee” Green Space & Arc Hive is a D-I-Y eco-arts artist-housing project foregrounding creative utilitarian projects, field-literacy, ritual maintenance work, neighborhood love-economies, and food for the soul in Cleveland, Ohio’s renowned University Circle cultural district. This “home-ek” project, based on “making do” with seasonal cast-offs and other found materials, is exhibited litter-ally and artifactually, in the ark’s Salon des Refusés. Visiting Creatives of all genres and disciplines, are free to pursue their own work, collaborate with in-house residents and young Green Scouts, help restore native habitat (Poet Tree Project), garden, share meals (Old School Kitchen), watch or create films in the converted coal-room (Flying Theater),  Julie is a recipient of a Doan Brook Association 2012 Watershed Hero Award, Acadia Arts Foundation Grant, New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, New York City Arts-in-Education Roundtable Award for Sustained Achievement, Houston Museum of Fine Arts Core Residency Fellowship. Julie has taught at New York University, Naropa University, Schule fur Dichtung (Vienna, Austria). She lives in the “East Pillage” (New York City).

Milena Gligić is a Los Angeles based vocalist and pianist originally from Belgrade, Serbia. She is a recent alumna of the Young Artist Program at LA Opera, where she worked as a pianist on several mainstage productions under Plácido Domingo and James Conlon. She is often a pianist for productions with the LA Phil, The Industry, and the Pacific Opera Project. Milena has performed with major professional choirs in the US: the LA Master Chorale, Washington Bach Consort and Collegiate Chorale in NYC. Well-versed in new and experimental music, she is a member of the Contemporaneous ensemble and Chorosynthesis choir. Her singing background is versatile, as she has studied and performed in many styles: operatic, jazz, pop, and Balkan ethno. She holds a Doctorate in Collaborative Piano from the University of Maryland and she specializes in working with singers on vocal repertoire in many different languages.

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(Sunday) 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm