Persistent Voices: Poetry Reading

Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS

Edited by Philip Clark and David Groff

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Westminster Church
400 I (EYE) Street SW
RSVP by Emailing

Poetry performers include Chris August, Gowri Koneswaran, and Jaysen Wright. Following the poetry performance, we will have a conversation led by the editor Philip Clark.

From Reinaldo Arenas, Tory Dent, and James Merrill to Paul Monette, Essex Hemphill, and Joe Brainard, Persistent Voices memorializes these poets and many others by presenting their work often dealing with AIDS but also about other enduring topics in the context of an unending epidemic that has profoundly affected our literature.

Philip Clark is a writer and researcher from the Washington, D.C. area. David Groff is a poet, editor, and teacher in New York City. This event is made possible by the Rainbow History Project, Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company and generous support from the Washington DC Humanities Council.

Philip Clark co-edited Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS. His passion is to bring LGBT writers to the forefront of our literary consciousness. Clark is a sought-after editor, writer, and essayist, with his works appearing in such collections as The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered; The Golden Age of Gay Fiction; 50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read; and The Oxford Companion to the Photograph. Ongoing research into Guild Press publisher and First Amendment pioneer H. Lynn Womack will soon be excerpted in 1960s Gay Pulp Fiction: The Misplaced Heritage (forthcoming, University of Massachusetts Press). He is also editing the selected poems of Donald Britton, a Persistent Voices contributor (completing the work of the late Reginald Shepherd), and has begun a collaboration with Dr. James Gifford on a scholarly edition of The Intersexes (1908), one of the first works of nonfiction about homosexuality, by “Xavier Mayne” (Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson). Broadly, Clark’s works are acts of remembrance, bearing witness to the often hidden history of gay and lesbian people and their struggle to achieve social equality and a sense of self-worth. In addition to writing, Clark pursues this goal as chair of Washington D.C.’s Rainbow History Project.
Chris August is a special educator, writer and activist from Baltimore, Maryland. Since 2002, he has hosted Baltimore’s only poetry slam series and represented Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, DC at the National Poetry Slam and the Individual World Poetry Slam. In 2011, he was named the number one performance poet in the country at the Individual World Poetry Slam, held in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, he has competed in Paris, France, representing the United States at the Poetry World Cup, ranking second in the world. His latest book, A Life Called Special, is a collection of poems dedicated to his time working at a private special needs high school in Baltimore. He currently performs and runs workshops at schools throughout Maryland as a teaching artist with Young Audiences of Maryland, a non-profit organization dedicated to arts education.
Gowri Koneswaran is a Sri Lankan Tamil American poet, singer and lawyer. Her advocacy has addressed animal welfare, the environment and the rights of prisoners and the criminally accused. She was a Lannan Fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Library and a member of the 2010 DC Southern Fried Slam team, and has performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Gowri’s poetry has appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Bourgeon and Lantern Review. She leads poetry and communications workshops and hosts open mics at Busboys and Poets and BloomBars, where she serves as poetry coordinator. She is also a poetry editor with Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal. Gowri tweets on-the-spot haiku @gowricurry.
Jaysen Wright is an actor, teacher and teaching artist. He received his MFA in Acting from Indiana University in 2012 and holds a BA in Theater from Grinnell College. His artistic interests focus on the intersection of theater, sociology and American studies. Since returning to DC in August he has been seen in 8: The Play at the Roundhouse Theater, presented by DC Theater Collective. He has previously worked with Arena Stage in various capacities including teaching artist and researcher. His regional credits include The Nerd at Brown County Playhouse and The Taming of the Shrew and You Can’t Take It With You at Indiana Festival Theater. His graduate school credits include The Pillowman, Nine Circles, Hair, Angels in America, Rabbit Hole, Take Me Out, As You Like It, Reasons to be Pretty and Palmer Park. At Indiana University he was awarded the National Society of Arts and Letters Career Chapter Award and the Charles Aidman Award.

Fund for the DC Community Heritage Project are provided by a partnership of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC and the DC Historic Preservation Office, a grant from the US Department of the Interior’s National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund, and by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.