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Reading & Conversation: Willie Lee Kinard III “Orders of Service” (w/ Richard Hamilton)

April 26 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

We are delighted to host two renowned Pittsburgh poets, Willie Lee Kinard III and Richard Hamilton, together in conversation at the bookstore. This event is presented in partnership with the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP). 

As a young, Black, queer person in a small town in the South where everyone knows everyone, Orders of Service is a coming-of-age exploration of the everyday fever of fleeting relationships, while capturing the romantic, psychic quotidian of the Bible Belt. This commentary on gospel traditionalism is armed with dreams of helping to reshape lived realities where being your truest self could be shunned or ostracized in deeply religious communities. It ruminates on this Deep South narrative by exploring how the age of social media has created a rich underground counterculture that offsets the surface rituals of grief and shame. The poems illuminate lineages of performance and fellowship for queer descendants of the last Black folks out of the Carolina cotton fields, and features Anansi-like speakers (Anansi is a trickster spider featured in West African and Caribbean folklore) while delving into old-school sensibilities and advice. This gospel-fugue bends language in the backwoods of faith and desire. Pulling figures from the stories of childhood—Icarus, a flying boy wanting to escape; Asterion the Minotaur—the wandering son of someone absent; Medusa, a wronged person portrayed as a mankiller; Cerberus, a beastly guardian intent on being a “good” boy— these poems are punky, preachy, prissy, and pink-collar, and all help create the fever-dream that is Orders of Service.

WILLIE LEE KINARD III (he/they) is a Black nonbinary poet, designer, educator & musician forged in Newberry, South Carolina. With written work appearing or forthcoming in Obsidian, Best New Poets, Boston Review, POETRY, The Rumpus & elsewhere, he received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh & has received fellowships & support from The Watering Hole & The Pittsburgh Foundation. An avid believer in evening thunderstorms & loose-leaf tea, go see ‘bout them at www.williekinard.com.

RICHARD HAMILTON (he/they) was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey and raised in the American south. He received an MFA in poetry from the University of Alabama and an MA in Arts and Politics from New York University. Hamilton is the author of Rest of Us (Re-Center Press, 2021). His book, Discordant (Autumn House Press, 2023), was the winner of the 2022 Center for African American Poetry and Poetics’ (CAAPP) book prize. He has received fellowships and awards from Oscar William and Gene Derwood, the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, the Cave Canem foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, among others. He holds the 2023-2025 post-doctoral creative writing fellowship at the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. Hamilton lives in Washington, DC.

CAAPP: Founded in 2016, the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics is a creative think tank for African American and African diasporic poetries and poetics. Its mission is to highlight, promote, and share the work of African American and African diasporic poets and to pollinate cross-disciplinary conversation and collaboration. Its programming aims to present exciting live poetry and conversation, contextualize the meaning of that work, and archive it for future generations.

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April 26
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


White Whale Books & Coffee
4754 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15224United States
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(412) 224-2847
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White Whale Bookstore
(412) 224-2847
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