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A Look at Black Took Collective

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014

black took collective WEBKeri O'Mara
Part of a movement to redefine concepts of race, gender and sexuality through poetry, the Black Took Collective comes to Notre Dame on Wednesday. The Black Took Collective is made up of three notable African-American poets who have been writing and performing together since 1999.

The English department’s creative writing program will host the Black Took Collective on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Digital Visualization Theater. According to the creative writing program, the Black Took Collective is “a group of Black post-theorists who perform and write in hybrid experimental forms, embracing radical poetics and cutting-edge critical theory about race, gender and sexuality.”

The performance will be a combination of poetry reading and multimedia. The Black Took Collective tries to challenge their audience’s perception of Black identity through their poetry and the presentation of that poetry. They challenge both popular conceptions of racial identity as well as conventional poetic standards in regards to stanza, lyric and pattern.

The Black Took Collective is comprised of three members: Duriel E. Harris, Dawn Lundy Martin and Ronaldo V. Wilson.

Harris is an associate professor of English at Illinois State University as well as the author of two print poetry collections and a sound compilation. She is known for her work in both written, aural and visual poetry collections.

Martin works as an associate professor of English in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh and is known for her poetry collections, most recently “DISCIPLINE” which won the Nightbook Books Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Lambda Literary Award.

Wilson is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Poetry, Fiction and Literature in the literature department of the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is known for his poetry collections “Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man” and “Poems of the Black Object,” both of which were awarded literary prizes.

The three founded the Black Took Collective in 1999 while attending Cave Canem, a retreat for African-American poets. In their “Call for Dissonance” in Fence magazine, they wrote that they established the group “to challenge how people think about representation forms of Black identity and the poetics that they engender.”

“Experiencing our work, audiences are encouraged to question and interrogate experience, representation, pleasure and agency among other things, to think critically about things we often accept at face value,” Harris said.

“Through our work, I hope that audiences are inspired to experiment and explore, to re-envision Black poetry and poetry in general in actuality and potential.”

The hope of the Black Took Collective is to redefine stereotypes of Black identity through new media in conjunction with poetry. The performance includes dancing, props and video in conjunction with poetry.

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About Caelin Miltko

I am a senior English and Irish language major, with a minor in Journalism. I spent the last year abroad in Dublin, Ireland and am currently a Walsh RA living in Pangborn.

Contact Caelin