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Reading with Monica Ong and Patricia Smith

Monica Ong  Patricia Smith

Artist and poet Monica Ong creates installations and interactive narratives that investigate social hierarchies and cultural silences in the context of public health. The silence of the daughter, the fear of losing face, and untranslated trauma are aspects of the medical/emotional landscape that her work evokes.

Monica completed her MFA in Digital Media at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her research has included fellowships at the Oral History Summer Institute at Columbia University and the Writing the Medical Experience Workshop at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also a fellow at the Kundiman Asian-American Poetry Retreat.

She has collaborated on designing digital poetry for Born magazine. Her experimental image.poems have been published in the Lantern Review and will be included in the forthcoming issue of The New Sound: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Art & Literature.

Recently, her narrative installations have been featured in exhibitions at the AC Institute in NYC and the Parachute Factory of New Haven, where she also curated the exhibition Critical Condition, focusing on the cultural silences in public health.

Chicago native Patricia Smith is the author of six books of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, a book of poems chronicling the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, which was a 2008 National Book Award finalist and one of NPR's and the Library Journal's Top Books of 2008; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection, winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and the 2007 Paterson Poetry Prize. Teahouse was also voted the Best Poetry Book of 2006 on Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah will be published in by Coffee House Press in spring 2012.

Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly, Tin House and many other journals and is upcoming in both Best American Poetry 2011 and Best American Essays 2011. Smith has performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Rotterdam’s Poetry International, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival, the Bahia Festival, the Schomburg Center, the Sorbonne in Paris and on tour in Germany, Austria, and Holland. In addition to her poetry, Smith is also the author of the groundbreaking history Africans in America and the children’s book Janna and the Kings, winner of a Lee & Low Books New Voices Award. She is a Pushcart Prize winner, a Cave Canem faculty member, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. In 2006, during a ceremony at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center of Chicago State University, Smith was voted into the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.

Smith is currently the editor of the anthologies Staten Island Noir and 100 Words and co-editor, with poet Tyehimba Jess, of the jazz poetry collection 21st Century Howlers. A dance/theater collaboration based on Blood Dazzler—choreographed by former Urban Bush Women dancer Paloma McGregor—recently debuted at the Harlem Stage in NYC and is being readied for future productions.

She is a professor at the City University of New York/College of Staten Island, and also teaches for Cave Canem and in the MFA program of Sierra Nevada College.