Friday 6 September 2019

Taylor / Weatherly

I've not been posting much actual writing here for a while, but some things that I've been working on for a while have appeared elsewhere. Firstly, a piece on Cecil Taylor's poetry (which draws a little from the blogposts I did here after Taylor's passing last here) has now been published as part of Chicago Review's enormous and invaluable new feature on the Chicago Black Arts Movement. I haven't got my copy of the print version yet, but a good portion of the pieces are up online, including my short essay and a playlist of Taylor's poetry. (You'll have to scroll way down the page to get there, but do stop off at the other pieces, by Harmony Holiday, Haki Madhubuti, Thulani Davis, et al.) I'll also be presenting on Taylor's poetry, again, at the Taylor conference happening at CUNY in October. Hugely excited about this latter, especially having missed the Open Plan exhibition at the Whitney a few years ago, and to see what this "opening field of question" will yield.

Secondly, a project that's been something like four years in the making, A Short History of Tom Weatherly. This is a feature on the late and very neglected Tom Weatherly, blues poet par excellence, which collects most of his published (and some previously unpublished) writings and sets it alongside essays and reminiscences by others, up on Jacket 2. Here's J2’s write-up:

David Grundy has curated this feature on the poetry of African American poet Thomas Elias Weatherly and the intersections of his Alabama heritage, Christian and later Jewish religion, Black identity, and personal politics. This collection seeks to celebrate Weatherly as a skilled blues poet who wrote outside of “secure ideological or formal categories,” instead drawing from the complexity of his identity to build a unique poetics. “A short history of Tom Weatherly” compiles Weatherly’s poetry and other writings (both published and unpublished); reviews and essays by Grundy, Burt Kimmelman, Ken Bluford, and others; as well as photographs, obituaries, manuscripts, and recordings.

With grateful thanks to Julia Block and Kenna O’Rourke for their help with proofreading, editing and design; Regina Nicholson for granting permission to print Tom Weatherly’s work; and to the contributors: Samuel Amico, John Ashbery (RIP), Marilyn Kaggen, Ken Bluford, Victor Bockris, Akua Lezli Hope, Burt Kimmelman, Chris Martin, Aldon Nielsen, Eugene Richie, Evelyn Hoard Roberts (RIP), Janet Rosen, Jerome Rothenberg, Aram Saroyan, MG Stephens, and Rosanne Wasserman (with Lauri Scheyer’s contribution on its way!).

Both these pieces in memory of the poets they celebrate: Cecil Taylor (2018) and Tom Weatherly (2014).

(On other fronts, a review of the new Stephen Jonas reader, Arcana, should be out in the next Tripwire and I'm also working on reviews of Dread Poetry and Freeedom, David Austin's much-needed monograph on Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Beautiful Aliens, the forthcoming Steve Abbott reader expertly edited by Jamie Townsend.)