The Eyes Have It: Poetry and Photography

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY  10037
Langston Hughes Auditorium
Thursday, April 23, 2015
5pm - 9:30pm

A multimedia event celebrating NIKKY FINNEY, RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITHS and PARNESHIA JONES, three dynamic poets and visual artists. Preview photographs from Griffiths’ Fall 2015 folio book during a cocktail reception with live music by MELANIE HSU. The poets will read new work and discuss the influence and role of photography in their personal life stories and in their chosen life's work. They will be in conversation with SARETTA MORGAN. Book signing will follow.

RSVP required. Send email to:


Nikky Finney, National Book Award Winner, Head Off & Split

Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff's Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). The John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Southern Letters and Literature at the University of South Carolina, Finney also authored Heartwood (1997) edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co- founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney's fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.

For more information, visit



Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Author of Lighting the Shadow

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. She is the recipient of fellowships including Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Vermont Studio Center, Millay Colony, and the Cave Canem Foundation. Her visual and literary work has appeared widely. Griffiths is the creator and director of P.O.P (Poets on Poetry), a video series of contemporary poets featured by the Academy of American Poets. Her third collection of poetry, Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose), was selected for the 2012 Inaugural Poetry Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Lighting the Shadow is her fourth collection of poetry (Four Way Books, March 2015). Currently, Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn.

For more information, visit,


Parneshia Jones, Author of Vessel

Raised on the Midwestern North Shores of Evanston, IL, Parneshia Jones spent her childhood in the Evanston Public Library and her mother’s kitchen. Writing and life intersected as an undergraduate at Chicago State University with a chance meeting with the late Gwendolyn Brooks. Currently, Jones assumes the position of Sales and Subsidiary Rights Manager and Poetry Editor for the TriQuarterly Books imprint. Her first poetry acquisition, Head Off & Split: Poems, by Nikky Finney won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. Recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award, Jones is a Ragdale Fellow and published in several anthologies. Jones is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of Black voices from Appalachia and serves on the board of Cave Canem and GlobalWrites. Vessel is her first collection of poetry (Milkweed Editions, April 2015).

For more information, visit



Melanie Hsu, Musician

Mel Hsu, and her cello, Charles, have been rather inseparable for most of their lives. The band director of Mel's high school once told her that there was no place for her or her cello in the school jazz band. Amused by this assertion, Mel has since had no interest in remaining complacent within stylistic expectations of her instrument. She tends to be musically restless and loves to explore the nuances of unfamiliar genres. Throughout their four years at Wesleyan University, Mel and Charles continuously coaxed each other into unexpected collaborations with dancers, poets, rappers, actors, musicians and filmmakers. Currently based in Philadelphia, Mel teaches kids world music classes, composes for film, and performs regularly throughout the Northeast.

For more information, visit


Saretta Morgan, Former Working Fellow at Cave Canem Foundation

Saretta Morgan spent four years in Germany with the U.S. Military before earning a B.A. from Columbia University. She has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the New York Writer’s Institute and the Ashbery Home School. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is currently an MFA candidate at Pratt Institute and a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative.



Cover photograph by Rachel Eliza Griffiths