Alexis De Veaux Returns to Buffalo to Launch New Book
by Leah Mosher
To celebrate the launch of her latest book, Yabo, award-winning author Alexis De Veaux will give a reading on Sunday, April 27 at 2pm at Just Buffalo Literary Center Writing Room (468 Washington Street).
A celebrated writer of poetry, children’s literature, plays, essays, and journalism, Alexis De Veaux’s work is defined by two critical concerns: making the racial and sexual experiences of black female characters central and disrupting boundaries between forms. She is the author of two award-winning biographies; but with this new book, De Veaux has returned to her first love: writing fiction.
Echoing the work of Jean Toomer and Toni Morrison, Yabo has been praised for its poetic elegance and spiritual excavation. Cheryl Clarke, author of Living as a Lesbian and The Days of Good Looks, compares Yabo to “a Mingus composition: Pentecostal, blues-inflected, full of wit and that deep literacy of the black diaspora. The present, the past, the uncertain future collapse upon themselves in this narrative of place/s…Yabo calls our ghosts back and holds us accountable for memory.”
Although De Veaux lived and taught in Buffalo for more than 20 years, she was born and raised in Harlem. The second of eight children, De Veaux grew up in a family with historic links to Caribbean immigrants and migrants from North Carolina. From an early age, she was taught that she already had three strikes against her: being poor, black, and female. But De Veaux’s love of books and literature helped her reimagine the world.
Inspired to pursue a life as a writer by the black writers associated with the social movements of the 1960s, De Veaux’s writing was greatly influenced by the tensions between the Black Arts Movement, the black feminist movement, and the Third World Government Movement. The confluence of these movements led her to focus her work on the portrayal of the lives of black women.
In addition to the central themes of her work, De Veaux is known for her form-busting writing. Her biography of jazz great Billie Holiday, Don’t Explain, takes the form of a prose poem and her short stories blur the lines between poetry and prose.
But she is perhaps best known for her biography of poet and social activist Audre Lorde, entitled Warrior Poet, which was honored with multiple awards including the Lambda Literary Award for Biography and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award for Nonfiction.
As a Buffalo resident for much of her adult life, De Veaux has been shaped by the city in profound ways which impacts her writing. She notes, “living and teaching in Buffalo the past twenty-odd years allowed me to know life in deeply spiritual ways—the loss of my beloved; opportunity to reflect on life and what it might mean to be alive; the creation of gardens and watching those processes of bloom and decay; the impact of time on human experience…This work, Yabo, was conceived in a city in which time, history, migrations, and immigrations take center stage. The idea of negotiating complex borders and non-borders, complex identities, springs directly out of being alive in a place with its own complex histories, its own complex languages.”
In 2007, De Veaux was awarded the Literary Legacy Award by Just Buffalo Literary Center for her lifetime achievement in the literary arts. Now, Just Buffalo welcomes De Veaux back to launch her new book, joined by co-readers Craig Centrie, Julie Symes Hall, and Celeste Lawson. Talking Leaves Books will be on hand to sell copies of De Veaux’s books and there will be refreshments afterwards.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit: justbuffalo.org.blog comments powered by Disqus
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