black experimentalism

'Really, music was the cause of it'

Interview with Russell Atkins, June 2, 2016, at The Grand Pavilion, Cleveland, Ohio

This image is from Atkins’s unpublished score “Objects for Orchestra.” The dedication is to Aunt Mae, Atkins’s mother’s sister with whom he lived for many years. Image courtesy of Russell Atkins.

The poet Russell Atkins falls through all of the cracks of postwar art history.[1] Living in Cleveland, outside the geographic centers of the art and publishing worlds; caught between modernism and the postwar avant-garde; publishing in small press journals; writing generically indeterminate concrete poems, essays, and operas. In terms of medium, his work belongs to music history as much as to literary history. Politically, he is located simultaneously in the avant-garde, behind the times, and outside the Black Arts Movement.

Note: The poet Russell Atkins falls through all of the cracks of postwar art history.[1] Living in Cleveland, outside the geographic centers of the art and publishing worlds; caught between modernism and the postwar avant-garde; publishing in small press journals; writing generically indeterminate concrete poems, essays, and operas. In terms of medium, his work belongs to music history as much as to literary history. Politically, he is located simultaneously in the avant-garde, behind the times, and outside the Black Arts Movement.

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