O | Sessions: Black Listening

A conversation with Lauren K. Alleyne

Featuring: Duriel E. Harris, Douglas Kearney, Rosamond S. King, and avery r. young


On World Listening Day, July 18, Obsidian is unveiling a new series, O | Sessions, with our first event, Black Listening. O | Sessions creates a space unapologetically focused on illuminating Black presence and Black creative expression and imagination across the diaspora.

Developed in response to audience requests for deeper engagement with artists presenting in #ObsidianVoices, O | Sessions increases writers’ and readers’ access to creative writing and related arts education and conversation.

Black Listening will investigate the role of listening and improvisation in performance through a conversation with Lauren K. Alleyne featuring Duriel E. Harris, Douglas Kearney, Rosamond S. King, and avery r. young. These award-winning poets and performance artists will consider questions such as: How do we listen and talk about listening? How does listening inform the writing process? What kinds of innovation can emerge through the process of co-creating and how does listening play a role?

Join us! A live immersion by makers for makers & YOU!


This event is supported by American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. 

If you have any problem connecting to the event, please try troubleshooting your VPN or contact us at obsidianlitstaff@gmail.com

Save the Date

July 18, 2021

avery r. young discussing Black listening.
Join us July 18 for more! A live immersion by makers for makers & YOU!

About the Artists


O | Sessions: Black Listening, July 18 2021

Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of two collections of poetry, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014), and Honeyfish (New Issues & Peepal Tree, 2019), and co-editor of Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (Northwestern, 2020). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, Ms. Muse, Tin House, and Guernica, among others. Her most recent honors include nominations for a 2020 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry, the 2020 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and the Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Alleyne was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. She currently resides in Harrisonburg, VA, where she is a professor of English at James Madison University, and the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center. Get more information about Lauren at www.laurenkalleyne.com and follow her at @poetLKA on social media.

avery r young

O | Sessions: Black Listening, July 18 2021

Duriel E. Harris is a writer, performer, conceptual artist, and scholar. She is author of three critically acclaimed volumes of poetry, including No Dictionary of a Living Tongue (Nightboat, 2017), Drag (2003), and Amnesiac: Poems (2010). Multi-genre works include the one-woman
theatrical performance Thingification, the video collaboration Speleology (2011), and the sound+image project “Blood Labyrinth.” Recent appearances include performances at the Black
Midwest Initiative, Lake Forest College Allan L. Carr Theatre, Naropa, the Chicago Jazz Festival (with Douglas Ewart & Inventions), Poet’s House, the Greenhouse Theater, the Votive Poetics Workshop (New Zealand), the Art Institute of Chicago, and Festival Internacional de Poesía de La Habana (Cuba).

Cofounder of The Black Took Collective, Harris has been a MacDowell and Millay Colony fellow and has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Cave Canem Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Her work has appeared in numerous venues,
including the New York Times, the Poetry Foundation, BAX, PEN America, & Now Awards, Of Poetry & Protest, Troubling the Line, Poets.org, and Letters to the Future; and her compositions have been translated into Polish, German, and Spanish.

Harris is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Illinois State University and Editor in Chief of Obsidian.

Douglas Kearney

O | Sessions: Black Listening, July 18 2021

Douglas Kearney is a poet, performer, librettist, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly awardee, a Cave Canem fellow, and has published six books. Most recently, he published Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry, and silver medalist for the California Book Award (Poetry). BOMB says: “[Buck Studies] remaps the 20th century in a project that is both lyrical and epic, personal and historical.” A Howard University and CalArts alum, Kearney teaches Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Born in Brooklyn, raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in St. Paul. www.douglaskearney.com

Rosamond S. King

O | Sessions: Black Listening, July 18 2021

Rosamond S. King is a creative and critical writer and performer. Rosamond’s poetry publications include All the Rage (2021), the Lambda Award-winning Rock | Salt | Stone, and poems in more than three dozen journals, blogs, and anthologies, including The Feminist WireHyperallergic, Harriet, and The Caribbean Writer. Her book Island Bodies: Transgressive Sexualities in the Caribbean Imagination was named “Best Book” by the Caribbean Studies Association. King is creative editor of sx salon and associate professor at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York.

avery r young

O | Sessions: Black Listening, July 18 2021

avery r. young is an interdisciplinary artist and educator, a 3Arts Awardee, one of four executives for The Floating Museum, and Poetry Editor for Bridge. His poetry and prose are featured in several anthologies and periodicals including; Berkeley Poetry Review 49Poetry Magazine, and photographer Cecil McDonald Jr’s In The Company of Black. He is the featured vocalist on flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening (FPE Records), and young’s latest full-length recording, tubman (FPE Records), is the soundtrack to his first collection of poems, neckbone: visual verses (Northwestern University Press).

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