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Anis Shivani

Anis Shivani

Posted: February 17, 2011 09:33 AM

Wow! We are excited. Not only are these amazing readings by some of today's strongest emerging talents in literary fiction and poetry--just check out the readings by Harmony Holiday, Dan DeWeese, and Garrick Davis, to take your breath away!--they represent some of the finest work being produced by the nation's best presses committed to discovering new talent: presses like Four Way Books, Fence Books, Wave Books, Noemi Press, and many others on the leading edge of innovative writing. These videos were all recorded exclusively at the request of the Huffington Post, and the writers also generously shared personal statements to introduce their work--words that can't fail to inspire emerging writers hoping to make their own breakthrough. To paraphrase Rebecca Wolff of Fence Books, don't let the awesome coolness of these readings interfere with appreciation of the fine literary quality!

Harmony Holiday reads from 'Negro League Baseball' (Fence Books)
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My first collection of poems, Negro League Baseball (to be released by Fence this May) is my attempt to clear a field/invent a field/disassemble or spin-out the field negro/house negro binary. The spectral shadow of my father (Jimmy Holiday, a northern soul singer and song writer) is cast across the entire work, as the text's guiding ethic still places me with my chin in my hands crooking my neck to watch him make music, until he got so exhausted he would nod off, allowing me to rest my gaze. In this way much of Negro League places me in the emancipated spectator role, and much of it is a new take on the "blindfold test"; me feeling my way around in the room of his legacy and its impact, trying to name the sights and sounds, trying to knock down a wall to make space for my own adjacent room and acoustic. It is reconciliation without reconciliation. I had to invent an impossible/mythorealistic place wherein he and I could have and insinuate the conversations he and I never got to finish in this realm, a place not too drastic, but not too casual either. From this place (which became a kind of refuge or haven) emerged meditations on what it means to be a black artist, and just an artist, period, in the United States. I noticed how large a role collective improvisation (even if just with me and my imagined self) plays in my own creative process. I thought about what the entertainment industry has done to turn the drive to improvise in all of the arts, into a threat to revenue, thus encouraging fixed mechanically reproducible commodities, as this society does in most of its industries. I wondered if that was for fear that histories can be reclaimed by way of the riffing that improvisers master, a lie cannot live through that level of disciplined intimacy. And so I wanted to build a body (of work) that proved this, not in its metaphysics, but physically, by its very being in time and space. I wanted to show that such work would not compromise relevancy or candor or rigor. In keeping with this desire, my reading here includes samples of archival materials and music, expanding on the poems as they exist on the page, but still privileging them members of the community of sounds and images to which they belong, from here into the antiquefuture.
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