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Poets Reflect on War, Survival, and Exile at Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Newark, New Jersey—On Friday, April 25, 2014, from 6pm to 9pm Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art in Newark will host a special poetry reading and celebration of National Poetry Month in conjunction with the acclaimed exhibition currently on view, “Bending the Grid. Luis Cruz Azaceta: Dictators, Terrorism, War and Exiles”. The exhibition on view through May 3rd, is a major survey of paintings by a leading Cuban-American artist exploring political and social issues. A profound Expressionist painter, Cruz Azaceta utilizes a humanist narrative to share stories and experiences concerning war, alienation, oppression, isolation and survival. 

Sharing the stage on April 25th will be Pablo Medina, Aracelis Girmay and Alejandro Anreus hosted by Dodge Poetry Festival Founding Director, Jim Haba. Honoring links to countries and cultural traditions in which they do not currently live, the poets are all, in some sense, exiles. 

Pablo Medina is a critically acclaimed poet and novelist. At the age of 12, Medina and his family moved from Cuba to New York City. He is the author of twelve books, including the newest translation of Federico Lorca’s Poet in New York, co-translated with Mark Statman.  He has written three previous novels, six poetry collections, which includes The Floating Island and The Man Who Wrote on Water, and a memoir, Exiled Memories: A Cuban Childhood. His most recent novel, Cubop City Blues, was published earlier this year by Grove Press.  He directs the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Emerson College.

Aracelis Girmay was raised in Southern California, the daughter of Eritrean, Puerto Rican, and African-American traditions. Her poems trace the connections of transformation and loss across cities and bodies. Her poetry collections include Teeth (2007) and Kingdom Animalia (2011). She is also the author of the collage-based picture book changing, changing (2005). In 2011 Girmay was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is an assistant professor of poetry at Hamsphire College and she also teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in :Poetry at Drew University.   

Alejandro Anreus was born in Cuba and has lived in New Jersey since 1972. His poetry collections are Memento Mori (2010, in collaboration with painter Arturo Rodríguez) and Los exiliados sueñan (2014). His poems in both English and Spanish have appeared in Bilingual Review and Revista Hispano Cubana de Cultura.  He teaches Art History and Latin American Studies at William Paterson University.

Dr. Anreus’s scholarly publications include The Social and The Real; Political Art of the 1930s in the Western Hemisphere (2006), Mexican Muralism, A Critical History (2012). He also recently completed a monograph on Cuban-American painter Luis Cruz Azaceta and is the curator of the current Aljira exhibition that sparked this shared reading.

The featured poets demonstrate their willingness to challenge cant and hypocrisy wherever they find it.  Unafraid of pursuing political issues in their poems, they share a fierce determination to expose deceit and to promote the search for truth and justice.

Reception begins at 6:00. Poets read from 7pm to 8pm.  

Additional Aljira Exhibitions and Events

March 29, 2014 to September 28, 2014:

Aljira at 30, Dream and Reality: a retrospective exhibition celebrating Aljira’s 30th Anniversary at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, co-curated by Margaret O’Reilly, Carl E. Hazlewood, Jaret Vadera and Cicely Cottingham. 

April 15, 2014 to April 29, 2014

The Aljira Pop-up Auction: Quality, affordable, contemporary art available for a limited time. Visit www.nyeandcompany.com for details.

Aljira is located at 591 Broad Street in downtown Newark. For directions visit our website at www.aljira.org. The Center is open Wednesday through Friday, 12–6 pm and Saturday, 11 am–4pm. Phone 973 622-1600, fax 973 622-6526, Website: www.aljira.org. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/aljira On Tumblr: www.aljirablog.tumblr.com On Twitter: @aljiratweets.