The Baldwin Protocols Reading Series presents the book release party for Where Brooklyn At?! (Willow Books/Aquarius Press); a collection of poems by Roger Bonair-Agard that trains its sights on gentrification and its outcomes, as well as the author’s own origins and migrations. Says Bonair-Agard in the book’s foreword, “Where Brooklyn At?! is something of a manifesto. It is certainly also – if a thing can be both – a protest song. It recognizes exodus and rails against the forces that move people before people want to move.”
This is Roger Bonair-Agard’s fourth book of poems, coming off the success of his most recent, Bury My Clothes (Haymarket Books), which won the Society of Midland Authors award for poetry, 2013, and was long listed for the National Book Award. But perhaps Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Greg Pardlo contextualizes it for us more succinctly:
“Roger Bonair-Agard gives us an epic in verse. From his homeland of Trinidad to NYC, Where Brooklyn At?! shows us a world in the midst of radical change, but nothing so much as ourselves. Don’t we all cross daily the imaginary borders drawn by nations, roughnecks, police and realtors? And like the best of epic heroes, he ekes the music, love and joy out of the commonplace violence of American life. But no one could render this life so vividly or mine its language for such harrowing truths as Bonair-Agard does. These poems restore us. This poet is a hero for our time.”
This book release event is also the inaugural episode of a regular reading series curated by National Sawdust Writer-in-Residence Bonair-Agard and co-curated by Anthony Hopkins and Shannon Matesky. The Baldwin Protocol Reading Series will feature poets and writers, a musical act and – in the spirit of the series’ namesake James Baldwin – debate and conversation with the community in attendance.
The release party will feature performance by the band Miyamoto is Black Enough, with Bonair-Agard himself joined by Jeffrey Zeigler, Sean Dixon, and, for this event, Ian Rosenbaum substituting for composer Andy Akiho. MiBE is a band beginning to call itself p(f)unk fusion by building on eclectic hard driving rhythms and the relentless energy of Bonair-Agard’s poems. There will also be performances by Abena Koomson and others.
National Poetry Series winner Patricia Smith calls Where Brooklyn At ?! Bonair-Agard’s “…best yet – sentimental, angry, reflective, urgent.” Says she, “I’m astonished by it.”
Come see these dynamic performances and join in the conversation and celebration of the planet of Brooklyn in flux – an idea for re-definition and social critique, a vision for the simultaneous reclamation and rebuilding of Brooklyn.
National Sawdust – Thursday November 10, 2016. Doors at 6PM, show at 7 sharp.