The SEA Poetry Series emphasizes diverse ways in which poets address social and environmental issues in their work. Presented in connection with specific SEA exhibitions, the series aims to investigate and expand the exhibition theme through the lens of contemporary poetry. After each reading, an artist from the exhibition or a community member working within the exhibition theme briefly responds to the poet. Past poets in the series have included Jonathan Skinner, Marcella Durand, Laura Elrick, James Sherry, Julie Ezelle Patton, Ed Menchavez, Phil Metres, and Michael Leong.
Panelists responding to Tonya Foster's work are photographer Jesse Pesta, whose photographs are featured in the Contemporary Slavery exhibit at EXIT ART, and Professor Salamishah Tillet.
Tonya Foster is the author of poetry, fiction, and essays that have been published in a variety of journals from Callaloo to The Hat to Western Humanities Review. She is the author of A Swarm of Bees in High Court (Belladonna Press) and co-editor of Third Mind: Creative Writing Through Visual Art. She is currently completing a cross-genre piece on New Orleans, and Monkey Talk, an inter-genre piece about race, paranoia, and surveillance. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the City University of New York Graduate Center. A recipient of a number of fellowships, notably from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and City University of New York, Foster teaches at Bard College. A native of New Orleans, she writes and resides in Brooklyn.
Salamishah Tillet is an Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization in 2007 and A.M. in English from Harvard University and her M.A.T. from Brown University. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania where she received her B.A. in English and Afro-American Studies. She is a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow for Career Enhancement and is currently a visiting fellow at the Center of African American Studies at Princeton University. Her book Peculiar Citizenship: Slavery and the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (forthcoming Duke University Press) examines how contemporary African American artists and intellectuals reimagine slavery as a metaphor for post-Civil Rights citizenship and as a model for racial democracy. With Hua Hsu, she is the co-editor of the forthcoming, The Day that Martin Died: Music, Memory, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She is an associate editor of Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters. She recently co-edited the Callaloo Special Issue on Ethiopia and has published in Callaloo, Novel, Research in African Literatures, and Women Review of Books. She is currently working on a book-length project on the civil rights icon, Nina Simone. She is also the co-founder of the gender violence prevention and expressive arts organization, A Long Walk Home, Inc., and a regular contributor to the online magazine, The Root. Her research interests include twentieth-century African-American literature, film, and popular music, cultural studies, and feminism.
Jesse Pesta is a writer and photographer and a Page One editor at The Wall Street Journal.
He has lived and worked as a journalist in New York, India, Hong Kong and small-town America, where his family published a more-than-century-old local newspaper.
SEA Poetry Series support provided by Poets and Writers Inc.