Guild Literary Complex

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“Black Fire: This Time” | A Reading

July 20 @ 7:00 PM 8:30 PM

Black Fire: This Time, Volume 1 from Willow Books (a division of Aquarius Press) celebrates the roots and legacy of the Black Arts Movement featuring the works of over 100 poets and writers.

Published last spring, perfectly captures the spirit of sankofa, a word from the Akan people of Ghana that roughly translates to “it is not taboo to fetch what is at riskof being left behind.” Black Fire This Time serves up generous portions of essays and plays, but poetry is the main entrée.

The Aquarius Press anthology pays tribute to Black Fire, a 1968 anthology edited by Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal that signaled the beginning of the Black Power movement in America and amplifies the new sentiment “Black is Beautiful. Black is Powerful. Black is Home.”

“In 20 years or so when future anthologists produce an anthology that will reflect a future state of Black writing,” literary icon Ishmael Reed writes in the volume’s introduction, “they will find this one hard to surpass.”

This reading will feature some local contributors from the book, including Curtis L. Crisler, Charlois Lumpkin, aka Mali Newman, Halima J. Olufemi, and Katrina Washington, along with special guests Michael Warr and Tongo Eisen-Martin.

About the Writers:

Curtis L. Crisler was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. Crisler has five full-length poetry books, two YA books, and five poetry chapbooks. He’s been published in a variety of magazines, journals, and anthologies. He’s been an editor and contributing poetry editor. Also, he created the Indiana ChitlinCircuit. Crisler is a Professor of English at Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW).

Halima J. Olufemi was born and raised in Jackson, MS. She is a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, JXN People’s Assembly and work with the People’s Advocacy Institute around their Participatory Defense Program. “My work is deeply rooted in the total liberation of Black people.”

Charlois Lumpkin, aka Mali Newman, is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a member of the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club and its performance troupe, the Soular Systems Ensemble. Her work has appeared in Drumvoices Revue, Valley Voices—A Literary Review, Crossing the Divide from the Poets of St. Louis and The Hoot and Holler of the Owls, an anthology published by the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. New work will appear in the forthcoming anthology 400 years: stories of black people in poems written from love, published by Broadside/Lotus Press.

Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. His book titled, “Someone’s Dead Already” was nominated for a California Book Award. His book “Heaven Is All Goodbyes” was published by the City Lights Pocket Poets series, was shortlisted for the Griffins Poetry Prize and won a California Book Award and an American Book Award. His latest book “Blood On The Fog” was released this fall in the City Lights Pocket Poets series and named one of the New York Times poetry books of the year. In 2020, he co-founded Black Freighter Press to publish revolutionary works. He is San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.

Poet Michael Warr’s literary honors include San Francisco Arts Commission Awards in 2023 and 2021  and the 2020 Berkeley Poetry Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. His books include Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin (W.W. Norton), The Armageddon of Funk, We Are All The Black Boy, and Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry From Chicago’s Guild Complex (Tia Chucha Press). He is a San Francisco Library Laureate and recipient of a Creative Work Fund Award for his multimedia project Tracing Poetic Memory, PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award, Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His poetry is translated into Chinese as part of “Two Languages / One Community” a collaborative project with poet and translator Chun Yu. Michael is the former Deputy Director of the Museum of the African Diaspora, a board member of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and founding Director of the Guild Literary Complex.

Katrina Washington is a poet and prose writer from the south side of Chicago. She holds a BA in English with a concentration in Poetry as well as Masters in Higher Education Administration and Organizational Leadership. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English with concentrations in Poetry, Prose, and Black Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Katrina has published work in online journals such as Kissing Dynamite and will be featured in the upcoming anthology Selkie Noticia. Outside of teaching and writing, Katrina enjoys cooking, being black, and rebelling against gender and racial oppression.


Blanc Gallery

4445 South King Drive
Chicago, Illinois
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