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Poetry, Ensos, Koans, & Meditation

in the Current Political Landscape of the Social Justice Movement & the Pandemic


Without Dragons Even the Emperor Would Be Lonely 

With Ninso John High, Omotara James, Andrea Clark Libin,

Thoreau Lovell and Uche Nduka

Thursday, October 29th at 6:30pm EASTERN / 3:30pm Pacific

Royalites from the sales of Without Dragons will be donated to The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund and the Women’s Resource Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Publisher and editor of Wet Cement Press, Thoreau Lovell, will host a panel discussion in which the participants read and discuss passages from Ninso John High’s Without Dragons Even the Emperor Would Be Lonely. The key hope is to foster an intimate exchange between the participants and an offering to the audience and one another in these troubled times as we reflect on how we personally relate to poetry itself in the world we inhabit. We will consider the meditative—brush circles of enso ink paintings, the paradoxes, and literary portals of koans or parables and poetry. There will be no official agenda other than Ninso reading a short piece from the book, and participants engaging in any way they choose, from sharing their own reflections and responses to the work—or one of their poems.

Zen monk, translator and poet, Ninso John High, is the recipient of four Fulbrights and has been awarded two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships (fiction and translation) and a 2020 National Endowment for the Humanities for a translation project of Osip Mandelstam’s Voronezh Notebooks. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, and translation—the most recent, vanishing acts, a work of cross-genre writings (Talisman House, 2018). A founder and former director of the LIU, Brooklyn MFA Program, he was recently on pilgrimage working with children, teachers, social workers, and writers, facilitating workshops in creative transformation in Cambodia, China, and Portugal.

Omotara James is a writer, editor and visual artist. She is the author of the chapbook, Daughter Tongue, selected by African Poetry Book Fund, in collaboration with Akashic Books for the 2018 New Generation African Poets Box Set. Her work has been supported by the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Cave Canem Foundation, Lambda Literary and other such generous organizations. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, The Academy of American Poets and elsewhere. Born in Britain, she is the daughter of Nigerian and Trinidadian immigrants. Currently, she teaches and lives in New York City. Her debut poetry collection, Song of My Softening, is forthcoming from Alice James Books. And it was just announced that she is a 2020 NYSCA/ NYFA Artist Fellow in Poetry.  Please visit her website, to learn more.”

Andrea Clark Libin’s Orphan of The Moon: Notebook of a Girl in a Moscow Station was published this fall by Wet Cement Press. Her work has appeared in Poetry Northwest (prose & photography), Paris Lit Up MagazineTalisman: A Journal of Contemporary Poetics, Kadir Has University’s Culture and Arts Journal (Istanbul), Zen Monster, and Downtown Brooklyn.  Libin has taught at Columbia University, Pratt Institute, LIU Brooklyn, and Kadir Has University, Istanbul. Most recently, she has been teaching workshops in Siem Reap, Cambodia, for children and teachers at an NGO village school and The Women’s Resource Center.  Born and raised in Manhattan, she currently divides her time between Brooklyn, Asia, and Europe. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University’s MFA Writing program. She is at work finishing a novel.

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Wet Cement Press publisher and editor Thoreau Lovell is a poet and prose writer currently living in Berkeley, California with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of Wilson Wiley Variations (Wet Cement Press) and Amnesia’s Diary (Ex Nihilo Press). A graduate in the graduate School of Information Management and Systems at U.C. Berkeley, he also has an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, where he worked for a number of years in the J. Paul Leonard Library as an administrator responsible for technology and collection access.

Uche Nduka is an itinerant poet and professor living in Brooklyn. He was born in Nigeria, was raised bilingual in Igbo and English, and earned his BA from the University of Nigeria. He left Nigeria in 1994 and settled in Germany after winning a fellowship from the Goethe Institute. In 2007, he immigrated to the United States, where he would earn his MFA from Long Island University, Brooklyn. Nduka is the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, including the U.S.-published books Living in Public (2018), Nine East (2013), Ijele (2012), and eel on reef (2007), and Facing You (City Lights Spotlight Series, September 2020). His work has been translated into German, Finnish, Italian, Dutch, and Romanian.

Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno is the author of more than a half-dozen books including biographies of Paul Bowles and E.E. Cummings, and The Continual Pilgrimage (Grove)—a group portrait of American writers in Paris after World War II. He is also well-known as a translator and poet. His books of poems include Just Words: Homage to Roman Jakobson (Alyscamps, 2019) and Remission (2016) and Mussoorie-Montague Miscellany (2013), both from Talisman House.