Thirty years ago in the midst of a pandemic, Tim Dlugos writes G9, the long poem of his dying, from a hospital overlooking 7th Avenue, where the New York City AIDS Memorial stands today. A few blocks uptown Assotto Saint is putting finishing touches on his anthology The Road Before Us: 100 Black Gay Poets. It’s been just two years since the memorial service for the choreographer John Bernd at St. Mark’s, and one year since Cookie Mueller’s memorial at the same church.
In the midst of both new and continuing crises, protests, reckoning, and uncertainty, we turn this year to the work of these and other poets and artists who have died of AIDS-related illness for an online Pride broadcast presented by the New York City AIDS Memorial and The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s.
Atom Atkinson, Chen Chen, Miguel Gutierrez, Shiv Kotecha, Francisco Márquez, Eileen Myles, Ron Padgett, Ethan Philbrick, Xandria Phillips, Jayson P. Smith, Kiki Smith, Pamela Sneed, and others to be announced will share performances and readings spotlighting the work of John Bernd, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Joe Brainard, Justin Chin, Tory Dent, Melvin Dixon, Tim Dlugos, Essex Hemphill, Cookie Mueller, Arthur Russell, Assotto Saint, David Wojnarowicz, and more.
Of the HIV+ poet Tory Dent’s work, Adrienne Rich writes: “poetry must speak out of extremity.” In this moment of almost unfathomable grief and physical separation, the work of these poets and artists rises up from that extremity, bringing us back into language, embodiment, and connection.