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Works

Lauren Russell — Descent book cover image

Now Available from Tarpaulin Sky Press

Descent

In 2013, poet Lauren Russell acquired a copy of the diary of her great-great-grandfather, Robert Wallace Hubert, a Captain in the Confederate Army. After his return from the Civil War, he fathered twenty children by three of his former slaves. One of those children was the poet’s great-grandmother. Through several years of research, Russell would seek the words to fill the diary’s omissions and to imagine the voice of her great-great-grandmother, Peggy Hubert, a black woman silenced by history. The result is a hybrid work of verse, prose, images and documents that traverses centuries as the past bleeds into the present.

Co-winner of the 2019 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards

Ahsahta Press

What's Hanging on the Hush

What’s Hanging On the Hush wrestles with concerns that range from race, gender and sexuality to loneliness, madness and grief, and nothing escapes questioning, least of all the position of the poet herself. With humor and slightly off-kilter introspection, these poems disrupt even their own speaking, frequently singing “I.” Collectively, they demonstrate the underlying restlessness of a subjectivity never quite at ease, like the solitary cats who meander across these pages and disappear only to turn up where they are least expected. Operating in a range of modes, from tight lyrics to sprawling, fragmented texts to language experiments, What’s Hanging On the Hush is a tightly constructed interrogation of construction itself. At its heart is an exploration of solitude and a feminist’s existential reckoning—the struggle of being/making in the world.

Named one of Entropy’s best poetry collections of 2017

What's Hanging on the Hush by Lauren Russell book cover image
From Descent by Lauren Russell artwork

Chapbooks & Broadsides

from DESCENT

A selection from Descent, featuring a chalk erasure by the poet. Four-panel foldout limited-edition broadside. Available from Oxeye Press.

Hunt for the Unicorn

Boog Literature. Four-page pamphlet, available as a PDF.

Dream-Clung, Gone

Brooklyn Arts Press. Chapbook, available from SPDAmazon, and Brooklyn Arts Press.

Poems & Hybrid Work

Essays & Reviews

For Peggy: Hauntologies of Descent

Collaboration with visual artist and scholar Sarah Stefana Smith.

In collaboration, Russell and Smith envision using visual, spatial, and textual components to speak into spaces of omission and lack in the archive. In this collaboration we will draw on questions of what is visible and what is invisible, what is legible and what is illegible, who owns the narrative, who makes history, and how do we visualize black life and death? We will develop a collaborative practice using method and aesthetics as a framework to produce several visual environments and installations in conversation with Russell’s Descent. Through method we will come up with a system of shared practices in poetry and visual design that reflect questions of history, illegibility, and omission. Through aesthetic form we will use methodological practices to create visual portrayals reflecting the challenge of perception, depicting a past that negotiates omissions. For Peggy: Hauntologies of Descent will exist at the intersection of our creative practices, using visual, spatial and textual components to speak into archival gaps and allow viewers to experience time as blurred, not a linear progression from the nineteenth century to the present but a space we wander across and through. Follow this process here.

Mend (2018) — Sarah Stefana Smith's series A/mends
Mend (2018) — Sarah Stefana Smith

Introductions

  • Introduction for Ross Gay at City of Asylum Pittsburgh’s Alphabet City, co-presented by the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh, February 15, 2019 — READ
  • Introduction for Saretta Morgan at City of Asylum Pittsburgh’s Alphabet City, co-presented by the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh, February 15, 2019 — READ
  • Introduction for Rickey Laurentiis at the University of Pittsburgh, hosted by the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, January 24, 2019 — READ
  • Introduction for Jonah Mixon-Webster at the University of Pittsburgh, October 10, 2018, and Boom Concepts, October 11, 2018, co-presented by the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics and the Black Unicorn Library and Archives Project — READ
  • Introduction for Cornelius Eady at the Cave Canem Faculty Reading, University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, June 12, 2017 — READ
  • Introduction for Sites of Memory, a Language for Grieving, featuring M. NourbeSe Philip, Sonya Posmentier, an Ibrahima Seck, presented by the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh, April 5, 2017 — READ
  • Introduction for Dawn Lundy Martin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for the Felix Reading Series, April 20, 2016 — READ