In honor of Poetry Month, join us to celebrate the publication of Bluest Nude by poet Ama Codjoe in conversation with poet and professor Yona Harvey. Ama Codjoe’s highly anticipated debut collection brings generous light to the inner dialogues of women as they bathe, create art, make and lose love. Each poem rises with the urgency of a fully awakened sensual life. Audience Q&A and book sales to follow.
About the Book
Codjoe’s poems explore how the archetype of the artist complicates the typical expectations of women: be gazed upon, be silent, be selfless, reproduce. Dialoguing with and through art, Bluest Nude considers alternative ways of holding and constructing the self. From Lorna Simpson to Gwendolyn Brooks to Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, contemporary and ancestral artists populate Bluest Nude in a choreography of Codjoe’s making. Precise and halting, this finely wrought, riveting collection is marked by an acute rendering of highly charged emotional spaces.
Purposefully shifting between the role of artist and subject, seer and seen, Codjoe’s poems ask what the act of looking does to a person—public looking, private looking, and that most intimate, singular spectacle of looking at one’s self. What does it mean to see while being seen? In poems that illuminate the tension between the possibilities of openness and its impediments, Bluest Nude offers vulnerability as a medium to be immersed in and, ultimately, shared as a kind of power: “There are as many walls inside me / as there are bones at the bottom of the sea,” Codjoe writes in the masterful titular poem. “I want to be seen clearly or not at all.”
About the Presenters
Ama Codjoe is the author of Bluest Nude. She is also the author of Blood of the Air, winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her honors include a 2017 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, and a Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship. Codjoe’s work has twice appeared in The Best American Poetry. She lives in New York City.
Yona Harvey’s poetry books are You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love, winner of The Believer Book Award in Poetry, and Hemming the Water, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Her poems have appeared in Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, The Best American Poetry, Letters to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing and A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry. She co-wrote Marvel Comics’ World of Wakanda, a companion series to the bestselling Black Panther comic, and co-wrote Black Panther & the Crew. She is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow.
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