April 1, 2013: We Went Down Swingin’!

Monday night was a rumble, a barn burner, a hot time in the still-cold city!  We had the best time at the last FPP reading of the season, in the company of Jericho Brown, eteam, Khadijah Queen, Rachel Sherman, and DJ Lady DM.

We were spellbound as Jericho Brown incanted poems about brutality and intimacy– between a boy and his father, between a mother and father, and between lovers.  He channeled Janis Joplin, writing of her throaty, desperate need, and then broadened to poems about the “we” of Harlem and of casual sex ads.  He sang it all, and we felt like we’d been to church (in a good way).

Multi-media artists eteam read from from their current project, “OS Grabeland.” For the project, they bought an allotment garden in former East Germany on ebay and became “landlords” to the farmers who use the garden.  They then recorded their tenants’ stories about the history of the land, but also declared the garden a cruise ship and took them on a virtual trip to American aboard it.  We got to hear the magical and disconcerting collision of the imagined and the real while photographs and video played in the background.

Next Khadijah Queen served up her singular and savvy wit, starting with a letter, “Dear Fear,” she’d written as part of the monumental Ann Hamilton show (“the event of a thread”) at the Armory earlier this year.  The letter portrayed a touching ambivalence in her relationship to fear– fear, in part, makes us, but it outlives its usefulness.  She read from her sharp and lightning quick poetry collections, Conduit and Black Peculiar, and closed with an excerpt from a hilarious “play” featuring biting social commentary disguised as dialogue between objects.

Rachel Sherman closed out the night with a story written expressly for the First Person Plural reading! In the brilliantly structured story, an unnamed group of employees (“we”) are charged with creating a coherent family movie from years of a wealthy business man’s home videos. The more they watch, the more concerned they grow for his wife, who despite, or perhaps because of, their four children, seems to be wasting away. The story was haunting and Rachel’s vision painfully acute.

Thanks again to our readers, to our bursting to the seams audience, and to DJ Lady DM who brought the live vibe!

The FPP Interview: Rachel Sherman

Novelist and short story writer Rachel Sherman talks to us about literary failures, humor, and multi-generational lullabies.

Your first book, The First Hurt, was a story collection and your second, Living Room, a novel. What were the challenges of moving from short form to the novel? Do you feel the process unearthed any hard-won insights regarding form or craft?  I do. Forever I thought of the novel as a mountain I would never climb. Or like the prospect of becoming a runner: there are some things that only other people do. Or perhaps like owning a dog. To write a novel felt as impossible as running on a mountain trail, leash in my hand, plastic dog poop bag in my pocket, panting. The difference between being a writer and being talented is doing the work.  To read the rest of the interview, go here.


Announcing Our Lineup for April 1st at Shrine, Harlem!

Our last event of the season will be a big one!  Poet Jericho Brown, multi-disciplinary art duo eteam, poet and artist Khadijah Queen, and fiction writer Rachel Sherman will take the FPP stage at 7pm.  The phenomenal DJ LadyDM will be spinning from 6:30-7:00 and again from 8:30-9:00. We can’t wait to see what they have in store!

Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans and is a recent recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University.  Brown is now an Assistant Professor at Emory University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and anthologies including, The American Poetry ReviewBoston Review, jubilatThe New YorkerOxford AmericanThe New Republic, and The Best American Poetry.  His first book, PLEASE, won the American Book Award.

Since 2001 eteam (Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger) traffic in transience. At the intersection of relational aesthetics, the Internet and land art, eteam coordinates collective happenings and conceptual transactions between the earthly plane and the realms of the interweb, often reconstructed in hypnotic video work, radio plays, or more recently novellas. Their projects have been featured at PS1 NY, MUMOK Vienna, Centre Pompidou Paris, Transmediale Berlin, Taiwan International Documentary Festival, New York Video Festival, and the 11thBiennale of Moving Images in Geneva. They have received grants from Art in General, NYSCA, Rhizome, Creative Capital and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and were residents at the CLUI, Eyebeam, Smack Mellon, Yaddo and the Mac Dowell Colony.

Born near Detroit and raised in Los Angeles, Khadijah Queen is the author of Conduit (Black Goat / Akashic Books 2008) and Black Peculiar, winner of the 2010 Noemi Press award for poetry. Individual poems appear widely in journals and anthologies including Best American Nonrequired Reading (Houghton Mifflin 2010), Villanelles (Random House 2012), jubilat and Eleven Eleven. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony, her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and curates the multicultural/multi-genre reading series Courting Risk.

Rachel Sherman holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. Her short stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Fence, Open City, Conjunctions, and n+1, among other publications. Her first book, The First Hurt, was short-listed for the Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and was named one of the 25 Books to Remember in 2006 by the New York Public Library.  Her first novel, Living Room, was released in 2009, also to broad critical acclaim.  She teaches writing at Rutgers and Columbia Universities, and in Ditmas Park. She blogs for the Parenting Section of The Huffington Post.


Venue:  Shrine World Music Venue
(in Black United Fun Plaza)
September 10, 2012 @ 6:45pm
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.