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TriQuarterly Books Presents Gabeba Baderoon & Kevin Simmonds

July 20, 2021 @ 7:00 pm8:00 pm

About this event

Join us Tuesday, July 20 at 8:00 PM Eastern as poets Gabeba Baderoon and Kevin Simmonds read from their new and forthcoming books! They will be joined by guest sopranos Valetta Brinson and Valerie Johnson.

Hosted by Parneshia Jones, Director of Northwestern University Press.

About the Books:

Gabeba Baderoon’s The History of Intimacy is a tender, tangled account of the heady days in South Africa following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. This award-winning poetry collection portrays the innovative forms of music, kinship, and even self in “the new, intricate country / we understood was impossible.” Gazing at black-and-white photos from back home, a woman who has moved to the United States realizes, “Memory doesn’t come to me straight.” Conversations overheard in line at the DMV reveal the complex nature of identity. When asked to name the color of her skin, a girl confides, “It was the first time I admitted / I loved the skin of white boys.” The poems are also light-hearted. In “Ghost Technologies,” about romance in the early days of the internet, the speaker recalls “when we loved each other on dial-up.” The collection begins and ends with poems on writing, paying tribute to poets such as Keorapetse Kgositsile and Archie Markham who taught her that “a border / is a place of yielding or refusing to yield / for after refusal might lie a new country.” Born on the coastal shores of Port Elizabeth, Baderoon is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed literary voices. In The History of Intimacy—originally published by Kwela Books—she crafts resonant poems about a writer’s beginnings, love across boundaries, and “how not to be alone.”

Leontyne Price remains one of the twentieth century’s most revered opera singers and, notably, the first African American to achieve such international acclaim. In movements encompassing poetry and prose, writer and musician Kevin Simmonds explores Price as an icon, a diva, a woman, and a patriot—and himself as a fan, a budding singer, and a gay man—through passages that move polyphonically through the contested spaces of Black identity, Black sound, Black sensibility, and Black history. Structured operatically into overture, acts, and postlude, The Monster I Am Today guides the reader through associative shifts from arias like “weather events” and Price’s forty-two-minute final ovation to memories of Simmonds’s coming of age in New Orleans. As he melds lyric forms with the biography of one of classical music’s greatest virtuosos, Simmonds composes a duet that spotlights Price’s profound influence on him as a person and an artist: “That’s how I hear: Her.”

About the Authors:

GABEBA BADEROON is the author of three poetry collections, including A hundred silences, a finalist for the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Olive Schreiner Award, and The Dream in the Next Body, which received the Daimler Chrysler Award for South African Poetry. She is an associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and African studies at Penn State University.

KEVIN SIMMONDS is a musician and writer originally from New Orleans. He studied music at Vanderbilt University and the University of South Carolina. He is the author of two poetry collections, Mad for Meat and Bend to It, and the editor of Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion and Spirituality and Ota Benga under My Mother’s Roof, a posthumously published collection by Carrie Allen McCray.


• Please register to receive a link to the Zoom event via email. Attendees will also receive a discount code they may use to order the books.

• If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to Northwestern University Press through the “Contact” link at the bottom of this page.

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