Four poets reclaim diasporic poetry as a powerful conduit for joy and community.
The gate at City of Asylum’s Alphabet Reading Garden bears poet Toi Derricotte’s audacious words: “joy is an act of resistance.” This program features four poets whose work explores the intersection of grief, loss, and the diaspora experience—reframed to focus not on “the trauma of it all,” but on the ways art depicting this experience can shed the labels of “trauma-porn” or “diaspora-porn” and instead turn into “diaspora-joy” and “diaspora-community.” These featured poets are Arthur Kayzakian, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Joy Priest, and Gaia Rajan. The evening will consist of readings by all four poets, followed by conversation, an audience Q&A, and book signing.
About the Poets:
Joy Priest is the author of Horsepower (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, and the editor of Once a City Said: A Louisville Poets Anthology (Sarabande, 2023). She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, and the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Nation, among others. She is an Assistant Professor of African American / African Diasporic Poetry on the faculty of Pitt’s MFA program and the Curator of Community Programs & Practice at its Center for African American Poetry & Poetics.
Gaia Rajan is the author of the chapbooks Moth Funerals (Glass Poetry Press 2020) and Killing It (Black Lawrence Press 2022). Their work is published or forthcoming in Best New Poets, the Best of the Net anthology, The Kenyon Review, THRUSH, Split Lip Magazine, and elsewhere. They live in Pittsburgh and online at @gaiarajan on Twitter or Instagram.
Diana Khoi Nguyen is a poet, multimedia artist, and the author of Ghost Of (2018), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Root Fractures (2024). Her video work has recently been exhibited at the Miller Institute for Contemporary Art. Diana is a Kundiman fellow and member of the Vietnamese artist collective, She Who Has No Master(s). A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and winner of the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest and 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, she currently teaches in the Randolph College Low-Residency MFA and is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Arthur Kayzakian is the winner of the 2021 Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series award for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is also the winner of the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition for his chapbook, My Burning City. He has been a finalist for the Locked Horn Press Chapbook Prize, Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, the C.D. Wright Prize, the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and the Black River Chapbook Competition. He is a contributing editor at Poetry International and a recipient of the Minas Savvas Fellowship. He serves as the Poetry Chair for the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from several publications including Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Portland Review, Chicago Review, Nat. Brut, Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness Magazine, and Prairie Schooner.
About Your Visit:
The in-house restaurant 40 North is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but a cash wine bar will be available.
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