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Jazz Poetry 2024: Roger Humphries + RH Factor, Sahar Muradi, Xan Forest Phillips, Volodymyr Rafeyenko, & Mónica de la Torre

May 21 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

Fans of Thursday Night Jazz rejoice: legendary Pittsburgh drummer Roger Humphries and RH Factor return to City of Asylum to join in the 20 year anniversary of Jazz Poetry. Our Tuesday night poets feature City of Asylum writer-in-residence and prolific Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Rafeyenko in his Jazz Poetry debut, winner of the University of Pittsburgh Press’s Donald Hall Prize for Poetry Sahar Muradi, sharing work from her recently published collection Octobers, recipient of The Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers Xan Forest Phillips, and Mónica de la Torre, Mexican poet and winner of the 2022 Foundation for Contemporary Arts C.D. Wright Award for Poetry

Each Jazz Poetry program begins with a 40-minute performance by the band, followed by 30 minutes of collaborative performance with the featured poets. In these collaborations, poets share their work while the musicians interpret and accompany their poetry with jazz, adding a unique, improvisational dimension to each performance.

Featured Musicians:

Roger Humphries: drums

Yoko Suzuki: saxophone

Lou Stellute: saxophone

Dwayne Dolphin: bass

Max Leake: piano

About the Musician:

Roger Humphries was 3.5 years old when his family first discovered his early talent for playing drums. He began playing professionally at the age of fourteen, and within two years, he was leading his own group at Carnegie Music Hall. In 1964, Roger went to New York to join the Horace Silver Quintet. While with Silver, Roger recorded three albums: Song For My Father, Cape Verdean Blues, and Jody Grind, with Song for My Father taking its place as one of the most legendary albums of our time. Roger is rated by music critics as one of the most exciting percussionists in the business. He has provided the rhythmic beat for such greats as Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Stanley Turrentine, James Moody, Lee Morgan, Dr. Billy Taylor, Benny Green, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Clark Terry, J.J. Johnson, Dizzy Gillespie, and countless others. After playing with various groups around the country, ace drummer Roger Humphries decided to organize his own group in 1972 which he calls RH Factor and in 1996 he assembled Roger Humphries’ Big Band.

About the Poets:

Sahar Muradi is author of the collection OCTOBERS, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the 2022 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and a finalist for the National Poetry Series. She is author of the chapbooks [ G A T E S ], Ask Hafiz, and A Garden Beyond My Hand, and co-editor, with Seelai Karzai, of EMERGENC(Y): Writing Afghan Lives Beyond the Forever War, An Anthology of Writing from Afghanistan and its Diaspora. Her writing has been supported by Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Bethany Arts Community, Blue Mountain Center, Kundiman, and Sustainable Arts Foundation. Sahar lives in New York City, where she directs the arts education programs at City Lore and dearly believes in the bottom of the rice pot. More at: saharmuradi.com

Xan Forest Phillips is a poet from rural Ohio. The recipient of a Whiting Award, Lambda Literary Award, and The Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers, Xan is the author of HULL (Nightboat Books 2019). He has received fellowships from Brown University, Callaloo, Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Sewanee Writers Conference, and the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. Xan is also the recipient of a 2022 Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Grant and the  2023 Oscar Williams and Gene Derwood Award. Xan’s poetry is featured in Berlin Quarterly ReviewBOMB Magazine, Crazyhorse, Poets.org, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

Volodymyr Rafeyenko is an award-winning Ukrainian writer, poet, translator, and literary and film critic from Kyiv, Ukraine. He graduated from Donetsk University with a degree in Russian philology and culture studies, and from 1992 to 2018, he wrote his works in Russian, was mainly published in Russia, and was considered a representative of Russian literature. Following the outbreak of Russian aggression in Ukraine, Volodymyr left Donetsk and wrote Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love, his first novel in the Ukrainian language, which was shortlisted for the Taras Shevchenko National Prize—Ukraine’s highest award in arts and culture. Volodymyr learned Ukrainian from scratch, and has dedicated himself to speaking Ukrainian as an act of resistance and perseverance. Among other recognitions, he is the winner of the Volodymyr Korolenko Prize for the novel Brief Farewell Book (1999) and the Visegrad Eastern Partnership Literary Award for the novel The Length of Days (2017). Volodymyr’s prose is full of phantasmagorical images and storylines, as well as explicit and implicit allusions to well-known texts. He is a Research Scholar at the Global Studies program at University of Pittsburgh and writer-in-residence at City of Asylum with his wife, Olesia Rafeyenko, since June 2023.

Mónica de la Torre was born and raised in Mexico City. Her most recent book of poems and experimental translations is Repetition Nineteen (Nightboat). Other collections include The Happy End/All Welcome (Ugly Duckling Presse)—a riff on a riff on Kafka’s Amerika—and Public Domain (Roof Books). She has published several books in Spanish, including Taller de Taquimecanografía (Tumbona), written jointly with the eponymous women artists’ collective she co-founded. With Alex Balgiu, she co-edited the anthology Women in Concrete Poetry 1959–79 (Primary Information). Recent poems appear in The Baffler, The Paris Review, and The Brooklyn Rail. She is also co-editor of the volume Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon). Mónica is a recipient of a 2022 Creative Capital grant and the 2022 Foundation for Contemporary Arts C.D. Wright Award for Poetry. She teaches poetry at Brooklyn College.

About Your Visit: 

Doors open at 6pm. 

The in-house restaurant 40 North is open for dinner from 5-9pm. Please visit Open Table or call 412-435-1111 to make a reservation.

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May 21
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
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Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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