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What Is It, Then, Between Us?: Poetry & Democracy -- Belladonna*, Kweli Journal & Poetskiss present Samuel Ace, Jonathan Andersen & Vincent Toro

Belladonna*, Kweli Journal, and Poetskiss present an evening with award-winning poets Samuel Ace, Jonathan Andersen and Vincent Toro, whose works engage with the 2019 National Poetry Coalition theme, "What Is It, Then, Between Us?: Poetry & Democracy.”

The question “What is it, then, between us?” is an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s iconic poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” Throughout 2019— the year marking the 200th anniversary of Whitman’s birth—writers, readers, schools, and cultural organizations are recognizing the poet whose work forged a new American poetry, which both expresses democratic ideals and contains painful truths about our country’s origin. “What is it, then, between us?” was chosen as a shared theme by the Poetry Coalition, an alliance of more than 20 independent poetry organizations across the United States, to demonstrate how poetry can provoke questions about timely and pressing issues, spark increased empathy and understanding, encourage civic and grassroots engagement, and contribute to public debate and dialogue. The March 9 event at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop is organized in support of the Poetry Coalition’s 2019 initiative.

Samuel Ace is a trans and genderqueer poet and sound artist. The recipient of the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund Award in Poetry and the Firecracker Alternative Book Award, he has published several collections of poems, including Stealth, a collaborative work written with Maureen Seaton, and two forthcoming volumes, Our Weather Our Sea (Black Radish Books, and Meet Me There: Normal Sex & Home in three days. Don’t wash. (Belladonna Germinal Texts, 2019). His work has been widely anthologized, including in Troubling the Line: Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics and Best American Experimental Poetry; and has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Atlas Review, Fence, Poetry, Posit, and Vinyl, among many other publications. He teaches poetry and creative writing at Mount Holyoke College.

Jonathan Andersen is the author of Augur (Red Dragonfly Press, 2018), awarded the 2017 David Martinson-Meadowhawk Poetry Prize; The Burden Note, (Meridian Prize, 2014), an English/Serbo-Croatian chapbook of poems; and Stomp and Sing (Curbstone Press/Northwestern University Press, 2005), a collection of poems. The editor of the anthology Seeds of Fire: Contemporary Poetry from the Other U.S.A. (Smokestack Books, 2008), his poems have been published in Blue Collar Review, Chiron Review, Connecticut Review, HeART, North American Review, The Progressive, Rattle, The Worcester Review, and elsewhere. He has been a featured reader throughout the eastern United States, the United Kingdom, and Serbia, including at the 49th International Festival of Literature in Belgrade and the 42nd Smederevo Poetry Autumn. He is a professor of English at Quinebaug Valley Community College.

Vincent Toro is the author of Stereo.Island.Mosaic. (Ahsahta Press), winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the 2015 Sawtooth Poetry Prize. He is the recipient of a Poets House Emerging Poets Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the Caribbean Writer’s Cecile De Jongh Poetry Prize, and The Spanish Repertory Theater's Nuestras Voces Playwriting Award. His poems have been published in dozens of journals, including Anomaly, BOAAT, The Buenos Aires Review, Huizache, Rattle, Vinyl, and Washington Square Review, and in the anthologies Best American Experimental Writing 2015, CHORUS, and Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America. He teaches at Bronx Community College and is poet in the schools for the Dreamyard Project and the Dodge Poetry Foundation.


Belladonna* is a feminist avant-garde collective, founded in 1999 by Rachel Levitsky as a reading and salon series at Bluestocking’s Women’s Bookstore on New York City’s Lower East Side, with a mission to promote the work of women* and feminist writers who are adventurous, experimental, politically involved, multi-form, multicultural, multi- gendered, impossible to define, unpredictable, and dangerous with language. Belladonna* is committed to publishing and building literary community among women-identified and LGBTQIA+ authors who write off-center, producing work that is political and critical; situational rather than plot-driven; inter-subjective, performative, or witnessing rather than personally revelatory; work that reaches across the boundaries and binaries of literary genre and artistic fields, and that questions the gender binary.

Kweli was founded in 2009 with a mission to empower writers of color and native writers to share narratives that engage and impact frequently marginalized communities, reflect the truths of our communities’ many histories, and imagine the possible future. With a triannual online journal, New York City-based and webinar workshops, year-long fellowships, public readings, an annual writers’ conference and international festival, Kweli invests in the artistic and professional growth of emerging authors, nationally and internationally, and seeks to address the under-representation of writers identifying as women.

Poetskiss is a website company for poets run by subscription. Member poets include, among others, Jonathan Andersen, Terry Blackhawk, Toi Derricotte, Charles Lynch, Marilyn Nelson, Bessy Reyna, Ed Roberson, Kate Rushin, James Scully, Vivian Shipley, John Surowiecki, and Edwina Trentham.