The New School Writing Program and Cave Canem Foundation, sponsors an evening of conversation and poetry with Ishmael Reed and Al Young.
After a brief reading, the poets engage in a lively dialogue about the historical and cultural influences on their work moderated by poet LaTasha Diggs.
The program is the 15th in a Legacy Conversation series exploring the lives and work of distinguished Black poets and scholars. Previous conversations have showcased such influential figures as Rita Dove and Derek Walcott.
It is supported, in part, by the New York Community Trust, Lila Wallace Theater Fund; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs- The New School
Born and raised in Harlem, Latasha Natasha Diggs has been active as a dancer, in the visual arts, and as a vocalist and spoken word artist.
Aside from being the author of two books, she has worked with the likes of Quincy Troupe, Mike Ladd, DJ Logic, Butch Morris, DJ Little Louie Vega, DJ Jeannie Hopper, Ori Kaplan, Burnt Sugar, Edwin Torres, Carl Hancock Rux, Vernon Reid, and Vijay Iyer.
Diggs is a fellow of the Cave Canem Workshop for African American Poets, a 2002 Harvestworks Digital Media Arts artist in residence, a 2003 Zora Neale Hurston recipient from Naropa Institute, and a 2003 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow. She is also the lead vocalist for the Yohimbe Brothers and the Beat Kids.
Ishmael Reed is one of today's pre-eminent African American literary figures--perhaps the most widely reviewed since Ralph Ellison, and, along with Samuel Delany and Amiri Baraka, probably the most controversial.
Ishmael Reed began writing his own jazz column for Empire State, a weekly African American newspaper in Buffalo, NY.
Since the publication of his first novel, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, in 1967, Reed has thus far produced seven novels, four books of poetry, two collections of essays, numerous reviews and critical articles, and has edited two major anthologies. Reed's literary style is best known for its use of parody and satire in attempts to create new myths and to challenge the formal conventions of literary tradition.
Reed's works have alternately been criticized as incoherent, muddled, and abstruse, and hailed as multicultural, revolutionary, vivid, and containing a deep awareness of mythic archetypes.
Al Young is California’s Poet Laureate Emeritus. His many books include novels, poetry, essays, memoirs, and anthologies. His latest is Something About the Blues. His work has appeared in the Paris Review, Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and more. His honors include a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts grant.