Events

All events are free and take place at UMMA unless otherwise noted.

Thu
Oct 21
5:30pm7:00pm
Zoom Event / Virtual Event

Zell Visiting Writers Series: Poet Douglas Kearney

Login here (no pre-registration needed): https://tinyurl.com/ZellWriters

All Fall 2021 Zell Visiting Writers Series events will be offered live in a Zoom webinar format. Pending public health considerations and guidance from the university, readings and Q&As may also take place in person (with limited capacity) at the University of Michigan Museum of Art's Stern Auditorium. Details will be announced closer to the event date. Please contact asbates@umich.edu with any questions or accommodation needs.

The dynamic Douglas Kearney is a poet, performer, and librettist who has published six books that bridge thematic concerns such as politics, African-American culture, masks, the Trickster figure, and contemporary music. His most recent book, Sho (Wave Books, 2021), aims to hit crooked licks with straight-seeming sticks.

Navigating the complex penetrability of language, these poems are sonic in their espousal of Black vernacular strategies, while examining histories and current events through the lyric, brand new dances, and other performances.

Kearney is also the author of Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), which was awarded the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry, the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, and the silver medal for the California Book Award in Poetry. BOMB says Buck Studies “remaps the 20th century in a project that is both lyrical and epic, personal and historical.” Kearney describes the non-traditional layout of his poems as “performative typography.” On the relationship between his poetry and politics, he notes: “For me, the political is a part of how I see the world. My art making doesn’t begin without realizing who I am and what it means for me to be writing a poem and not doing something else.” Kearney’s collection of writing on poetics and performativity, Mess and Mess (Noemi Press, 2015), is a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection. In it, Kearney writes, “If my writing makes a mess of things, it’s not to flee understanding, but to map (mis-)understanding as a verb.” Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014), Kearney’s third poetry collection, examines miscarriage, infertility, and parenthood. The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009) is a National Poetry Series selection, which “flows from a consideration of urban speech, negro spontaneity and book learning.” Someone Took They Tongues (Subito Press, 2016) collects several of Kearney’s libretti, including one written in a counterfeit Afro-diasporic language. He was the guest editor for the 2015 Best American Experimental Writing.

Kearney has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and the Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, and was named a Notable New American Poet by the Poetry Society of America, He has been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem and The Rauschenberg Foundation. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Poetry, Iowa Review, Boston Review, and Indiana Review, and anthologies, including Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky, Best American Poetry, Best American Experimental Writing, and What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Poets in America.

Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family a little west of Minneapolis, MN and teaches creative writing at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.