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David Mills: Boneyarn: Poems About the History of Slavery in NYC

March 30 at 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

cover of Boneyarn bookPoet, performer, and educator David Mills will read from and reflect upon the research behind his recent collection, Boneyarn, the first-ever book of poems about slavery in New York City. He will answer questions moderated by Dr. Amy Lemmon and Dr. Kathrine Varnes, both of the English and Communication Studies Department.

The city holds the oldest and largest slave cemetery in the United States—the African Burial Ground—which was open from 1712 to 1795 and is located in Wall Street’s shadows. Fifteen thousand enslaved and free Blacks, some Native Americans, and poor whites are buried there. Mills creatively “excavates” the tragedies and triumphs of New York’s enslaved and free Black community. He writes about those who toiled as cooks, childhood chimney sweeps, sailed the Atlantic, fought in the Revolutionary War, maintained African traditions when burying the dead, built the “wall” where Wall Street gets its name, and regrettably were dehumanized in life and sometimes desecrated in death.

The collection also includes a suite of poems dedicated to Jupiter Hammon; born into slavery on Long Island, New York, Hammon was the first Black poet published in North America.

This event will provide a sense of how research and creativity can move us toward a sense of healing from collective trauma.

The book will be available at Barnes & Noble at FIT Bookstore for purchase.

Barnes and Noble at FIT

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David Mills

David Mills holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and is author of published four collections of poetry: The Dream Detective, The Sudden Country, After Mistic (Massachusetts slavery poems) and the bestselling Boneyarn. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Brooklyn Rail, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review Jubilat, Callaloo, Obsidian, The Common, Brooklyn Rail, Rattapallax, The Literary Review, The African-American Review, and Fence. He has also received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Breadloaf, the Lannan Foundation, the Queens Council on the Arts, the Bronx Council on the Arts, Washington College and The American Antiquarian Society. He lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years (was a recipient of the Langston Hughes Society Award) and wrote the audio script for MacArthur Fellow Deborah Willis’s curated exhibition Reflections in Black:100 Years of Black Photography. The Juilliard School of Drama commissioned and produced one of his plays. He has recorded his poetry on ESPN, RCA Records and has had poems displayed at the Venice Biennale and Germany’s Documenta art exhibition.

Resources for Teaching 

Ashland Poetry Press  

Poems from the book published online:

The Common 

Diode 

Piltdown Review

American Antiquarian Society Video: Artists in the AAS Archive – David Mills

 

Details

Date:
March 30
Time:
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:
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