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  • Writer's pictureThe Dayton Weekly News

The Contemporary Dayton Lecture Series: Conversations

The Co’s new lecture series featuring incisive people and perspectives for our time.

The Contemporary Dayton is a non-profit gallery and artist resource that provides art for the community and a community for artists since 1991. Join The Contemporary Dayton as it presents poet, essayist and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib at “The Tank” in Dayton’s historic Arcade as he reads from his newest book, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance. He will also engage in a conversation and sign books.

Photo by Kate Sweeney. Courtesy of Hanif Abdurraqib.

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House, and won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. His newest release, A Little Devil In America (Random House, 2021) was a winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and the Gordon Burn Prize, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award . In 2021, Abdurraqib was named a MacArthur Fellow. He is a graduate of Beechcroft High School.

The conversation will take place March 2nd at 6pm, inside The Tank at the Dayton Arcade (35 W 4th St, downtown Dayton). Metered street parking is free after 6 pm, or guests may park in the Reibold Garage.

Interested in more? The series continues in April and May with Saeed Jones and Debbie Blunden-Diggs.

Enjoy an evening with author Saeed Jones, as he shares his new poetry collection Alive At The End Of The World. Jones will also have a conversation with the literary artist, Dionne Custer Edwards.

Photo by Saeed Jones. Courtesy of Saeed Jones.

Saeed Jones is an essential author as well as a powerful voice in the world of literary activism, and his writing often engages the questions and nuances of identity. He has shaped his platform into a tool for social awareness, breakthroughs and connections with his no-holds-barred personality and unforgettable voice. Saeed Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. His debut poetry collection, Prelude to Bruise, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was awarded the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. The collection also received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which described the book as, “a fever dream, something akin to magic.” NPR described Prelude as a “book seamed in smoke; it is a dance that invites you to admire the supple twist of its narrative spine; it is hard and glaring and brilliant.”

In 2019, Saeed released his highly anticipated memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives. As the New Yorker observed “his title carries an edge of social critique. To be black, gay, an American, the book suggests, is to fight for one’s life.” NPR raved “Jones’s voice and sensibility are so distinct that he turns one of the oldest of literary genres inside out and upside down.” The memoir won the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, a 2020 Lambda Literary Award, as well as a 2020 Stonewall Book Award.

Saeed’s latest, Alive at the End of the World, is a poetry collection published in fall 2022. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “This penetrating collection shows Jones at his poetic best,” and Library Journal hails the book as, “Yet another masterly work.”

Dionne Custer Edwards is a practicing artist and serves as the Director of Learning & Public Practice at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

She has published critical and literary writing, internationally and nationally in Sanat Dünyamiz (“Our Art World”), Turkey; Journal GEARTE, Brazil; and in the University of Arizona’s Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in 3Elements Review, Barren Magazine, Entropy Magazine, Flock, Gordon Square Review, Grist, Porter House Review, Storm Cellar, The Seventh Wave, Tahoma Literary Review, and others.

The conversation will take place inside The Tank at the Dayton Arcade on April 13th at 6pm. The event is free, but registration is required. Get details or register at

Photo by Angela Burdon. Courtesy of Debbie Bluden-Diggs.

Don’t miss Artistic Director and choreographer, Debbie Blunden-Diggs, Countess V. Winfrey, and Kevin Ward in conversation with Michael Goodson.

Debbie Blunden-Diggs will participate in a group discussion with fellow Members of DCDC: Choreographer Countess Winfrey and Former Artistic Director and now Dance Affinity Group Manager Kevin Ward.

Debbie became Artistic Director for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) in 2007. In 2019, she was named Chief Artistic & Producing Director. For over 20 years she performed with the company, appearing in most of the company’s repertoire. Before becoming Artistic Director, she served as the company’s Associate Artistic Director, Deputy Director for Arts and Operations, and Resident Choreographer. In addition to her choreographic and artistic leadership, Ms. Blunden-Diggs is the Executive Director of Jeraldyne’s School of the Dance, the cornerstone to Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and she works closely with DCDC’s pre-professional company, DCDC2.

She has created works for the company, which have become part of the company’s artistic blueprint. Her notable works include Configurations, Kaleidoscope, Fragments, In My Father’s House, and Traffic. Her first piece, Variations in Blue, composed when she was 17, was submitted as an entry in the Young Choreographers Showcase and selected for inclusion in the National Choreographic Plan. She has contributed an impressive body of work, including No Room, No Place, No Where, for which she received a Monticello Award in 1982.”

The conversation will take place May 11th at 6pm, inside The Tank at the Dayton Arcade (35 W 4th St, downtown Dayton). Metered street parking is free after 6 pm, or guests may park in the Reibold Garage.

The event is free & open to all. Registration is required.



GET IN TOUCH 25 W 4th Street Dayton, OH 45402 937/224.3822


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