Mark Nowak presents "Social Poetics" (in conversation with Analysis)

Thursday March 26, 7:00PM

@ Red Emma's

A people's history of the poetry workshop from a poet and labor activist heralded by Adrienne Rich for "regenerating the rich tradition of working-class literature."

Social Poetics documents the imaginative militancy and emergent solidarities of a new, insurgent working class poetry community rising up across the globe. Part autobiography, part literary criticism, part Marxist theory, Social Poetics presents a people’s history of the poetry workshop from the founding director of the Worker Writers School. Nowak illustrates not just what poetry means, but what it does to and for people outside traditional literary spaces, from taxi drivers to street vendors, and other workers of the world.

Mark Nowak is the author of Coal Mountain Elementary, Shut Up Shut Down, and Revenants. He is the recipient of the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism and fellowships from the Lannan and Guggenheim foundations. Nowak has led poetry workshops for workers and trade unions in the US, South Africa, the UK, Panama, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. He is currently a professor of English at Manhattanville College and the founding director of the Worker Writers School.

“Whether unpacking Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘unity of the emerging idea,’ demonstrating the practical application of alliteration, or recalling his daughter teaching youth prison poets origami, Mark Nowak testifies to the urgency and intimacy of poetry in our prisons, union halls, and workers’ centers. Social Poetics tracks what happens when people gather around poems: conjunctions, dialogues, imaginative militancy, solidarities. This supple, comprehensive book is a study in the poetics of bearing witness, bearing tools, and bearing possibilities.” -Terrance Hayes

Poet and Red Emma’s bookseller Analysis is from Baltimore, MD and an alumnus of American University and Howard University School of Divinity. Drawing on a background in education, ministry, international justice work and organizing, he has featured in venues throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England. Besides resourcing people with crucial knowledge in the Bookstore, Analysis is the host of Red Emma’s Mother Earth Poetry Vibe, a member of Simply Poetic Entertainment and the author of Somewhere Through the Haze, a collection of justice/human rights-related poems.


More upcoming events

Branko Marcetic's new book from Jacobin Magazine exposes the forgotten history of Joe Biden, one of the United States’ longest-serving politicians, and one of its least scrutinized. Over nearly fifty years in politics, the man called “Middle-Class Joe” served as a key architect of the Democratic Party’s rightward turn, ushering in the end of the liberal New Deal order and assisting the political takeover of the radical right.

An answer to the assault on voting rights—crucial reading in advance of the 2020 presidential election

"The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is considered one of the most effective pieces of legislation the United States has ever passed. It enfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters, particularly in the American South, and drew attention to the problem of voter suppression. Yet in recent years there has been a continuous assault on access to the ballot box in the form of stricter voter ID requirements, meritless claims of rigged elections, and baseless accusations of voter fraud. In the past these efforts were aimed at eliminating African American voters from the rolls, and today, new laws seek to eliminate voters of color, the poor, and the elderly, groups that historically vote for the Democratic Party.

Uncounted examines the phenomenon of disenfranchisement through the lens of history, race, law, and the democratic process. Gilda R. Daniels, who served as Deputy Chief in the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and more than two decades of voting rights experience, argues that voter suppression works in cycles, constantly adapting and finding new ways to hinder access for an exponentially growing minority population. She warns that a premeditated strategy of restrictive laws and deceptive practices has taken root and is eroding the very basis of American democracy—the right to vote!"

A collection of writings on art by Barry Schwabsky.

“Many consider Barry Schwabsky to be the critic on painting today, even if he does write copiously on other art forms,” write editors Rob Colvin and Sherman Sam in their foreword to this selection of Schwabsky's writings. Written since the turn of the millennium, the texts in The Oberver Effect include meditations on the broader context of painting today alongside reflections on such well-known American painters as Alex Katz, Kerry James Marshall, Nicole Eisenman, and Dana Schutz, as well as practitioners from Europe and beyond—Bernard Frize, Tal R, and Ha Chonghyun among them. As Colvin and Sam point out, the book “documents a dialogue between abstraction and the image” in which “images serve less to represent their described subject than to articulate the sort of painting each one desires to be.”


A major recasting of American history from the vantage of immigration politics


It is often said that with the election of Donald Trump nativism was raised from the dead. After all, here was a president who organized his campaign around a rhetoric of unvarnished racism and xenophobia. Among his first acts on taking office was to issue an executive order blocking Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. But although his actions may often seem unprecedented, they are not as unusual as many people believe. This story doesn’t begin with Trump. For decades, Republicans and Democrats alike have employed xenophobic ideas and policies, declaring time and again that “illegal immigration” is a threat to the nation’s security, wellbeing, and future.

The profound forces of all-American nativism have, in fact, been pushing politics so far to the right over the last forty years that, for many people, Trump began to look reasonable. As Daniel Denvir argues, issues as diverse as austerity economics, free trade, mass incarceration, the drug war, the contours of the post 9/11 security state, and, yes, Donald Trump and the Alt-Right movement are united by the ideology of nativism, which binds together assorted anxieties and concerns into a ruthless political project. 

All-American Nativism provides a powerful and impressively researched account of the long but often forgotten history that gave us Donald Trump. 


Rachel Vorona Cote publishes frequently in such outlets as the New Republic, Longreads, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Literary Hub, Catapult, the Poetry Foundation, Hazlitt, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where her essay on Taylor Swift and Victorian female friendship was one of the site's most read essays in 2015. She was also previously a contributing writer at Jezebel. Rachel holds a BA from the College of William and Mary and was ABD in a doctoral program in English at the University of Maryland, studying and teaching the literature of the Victorian period. She and her husband live in Takoma Park, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Laura Bogart is the author of the forthcoming Don't You Know I Love You (Dzanc). Her work has been featured on The Week, The Atlantic, The A.V. Club, Salon, The Guardian, and NYLON.

"A weeping woman is a monster. So too is a fat woman, a horny woman, a woman shrieking with laughter. Women who are one or more of these things have heard, or perhaps simply intuited, that we are repugnantly excessive, that we have taken illicit liberties to feel or fuck or eat with abandon. After bellowing like a barn animal in orgasm, hoovering a plate of mashed potatoes, or spraying out spit in the heat of expostulation, we've flinched-ugh, that was so gross. I am so gross. On rare occasions, we might revel in our excess--belting out anthems with our friends over karaoke, perhaps--but in the company of less sympathetic souls, our uncertainty always returns. A woman who is Too Much is a woman who reacts to the world with ardent intensity is a woman familiar to lashes of shame and disapproval, from within as well as without.

"Written in the tradition of Shrill, Dead Girls, Sex Object and other frank books about the female gaze, TOO MUCH encourages women to reconsider the beauty of their excesses-emotional, physical, and spiritual. Rachel Vorona Cote braids cultural criticism, theory, and storytelling together in her exploration of how culture grinds away our bodies, souls, and sexualities, forcing us into smaller lives than we desire. An erstwhile Victorian scholar, she sees many parallels between that era's fixation on women's "hysterical" behavior and our modern policing of the same; in the space of her writing, you're as likely to encounter Jane Eyre and Lizzie Bennet as you are Britney Spears and Lana Del Rey.

"This book will tell the story of how women, from then and now, have learned to draw power from their reservoirs of feeling, all that makes us 'Too Much.'"

@ Red Emma's

Decolonization revolutionized the international order during the twentieth century. Yet standard histories that present the end of colonialism as an inevitable transition from a world of empires to one of nations—a world in which self-determination was synonymous with nation-building—obscure just how radical this change was. Drawing on the political thought of anticolonial intellectuals and statesmen such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, and Julius Nyerere, this important new account of decolonization reveals the full extent of their unprecedented ambition to remake not only nations but the world.

Adom Getachew shows that African, African American, and Caribbean anticolonial nationalists were not solely or even primarily nation-builders. Responding to the experience of racialized sovereign inequality, dramatized by interwar Ethiopia and Liberia, Black Atlantic thinkers and politicians challenged international racial hierarchy and articulated alternative visions of worldmaking. Seeking to create an egalitarian postimperial world, they attempted to transcend legal, political, and economic hierarchies by securing a right to self-determination within the newly founded United Nations, constituting regional federations in Africa and the Caribbean, and creating the New International Economic Order.

Using archival sources from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, Worldmaking after Empire recasts the history of decolonization, reconsiders the failure of anticolonial nationalism, and offers a new perspective on debates about today’s international order.


The story of the rise of the segregated suburb often begins during the New Deal and the Second World War, when sweeping federal policies hollowed out cities, pushed rapid suburbanization, and created a white homeowner class intent on defending racial barriers. Paige Glotzer offers a new understanding of the deeper roots of suburban segregation—by examining how Baltimore's earliest suburbs were built on a foundation of white supremacy and transnational capital. The mid-twentieth-century policies that favored exclusionary housing were not simply the inevitable result of popular and elite prejudice, she reveals, but the culmination of a long-term effort by developers to use racism to structure suburban real estate markets.

Glotzer charts how the real estate industry shaped residential segregation, from the emergence of large-scale suburban development in the 1890s to the postwar housing boom. Focusing on the Roland Park Company as it developed Baltimore’s wealthiest, whitest neighborhoods, she follows the money that financed early segregated suburbs, including the role of transnational capital, mostly British, in the U.S. housing market. She also scrutinizes the business practices of real estate developers, from vetting homebuyers to negotiating with municipal governments for services. She examines how they sold the idea of the suburbs to consumers and analyzes their influence in shaping local and federal housing policies. Glotzer then details how Baltimore’s experience informed the creation of a national real estate industry with professional organizations that lobbied for planned segregated suburbs. How the Suburbs Were Segregated sheds new light on the power of real estate developers in shaping the origins and mechanisms of a housing market in which racial exclusion and profit are still inextricably intertwined.

The story of how a national grassroots network fought a resurgence of the KKK and other fascist groups during the Reagan years, laying the groundwork for today's anti-fascist/anti-racist movements.

"Smash fascism! Read this book!"––Tom Morello, songwriter and guitarist with Rage Against the Machine

"Studying the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee will give readers an understanding of the complexity of deconstructing the weapon of white supremacy from the inside out. Thank you Hilary and James for the precision of this analysis, and the true north of this star."––adrienne maree brown, author of Pleasure Activism and Emergent Strategy

In June 1977, a group of white anti-racist activists received an alarming letter from an inmate at a New York state prison calling for help to fight the Ku Klux Klan's efforts to recruit prison staff and influence the people incarcerated. Their response was to form the first chapter of what would eventually become a powerful, nationwide grassroots network, the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, dedicated to countering the rise of the KKK and other far-right white nationalist groups.

No Fascist USA! tells the story of that network, whose efforts throughout the 1980s––which included exposing white supremacists in public office, confronting neo-Nazis in street protests, supporting movements for self-determination, and engagement with the underground punk scene––laid the groundwork for many anti-racist efforts to emerge since. Featuring original research, interviews with former members, and a trove of graphic materials, their story offers battle-tested lessons for those on the frontlines of social justice work today.