Two poets and critics discuss literature, race, politics, and the 1956 passport denial to WEB DuBois for a conference in France.
Genre: Talks, Conversations.
Venue: Kaufman Concert Hall, The 92 Y, New York, NY, USA.
Dates: December 13, 2018.
Speakers/Presenters: Claudia Rankine, multiple award-winning Jamaican and American poet, playwright, essayist, intellectual, and professor. Author of Citizen (Graywolf Press) and founder of the Racial Imaginary Institute. In conversation with Juliana Spahr, award-winning American poet, critic, and professor.
Description: The Unterberg Poetry Center at The 92 Y presents Claudia Rankine and Julian Spahr in dialogue on the intersecting topics that their poetry, writing, and teaching have revealed about American society, past and present. Part of their discussion will focus on Spahr’s new book, Du Bois’s Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment, and the emblematic case of WEB DuBois’s 1956 denial of a passport, by the US State Department, to attend the Présence Africaine Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris. He sent, in lieu of his presence, a telegram, explaining among other things that “the Negro-American who travels abroad today must either not discuss race conditions in the United States or say the sort of thing which our State Department wishes the world to believe.”
What, then and now, Rankine and Spahr ask, is the relationship between literature and politics and race? Can writing be revolutionary? Can art ever be autonomous?
For more details, please see the event’s official site.