Readings in Contemporary Poetry
Tribute to Etel Adnan
Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 12:30 pm, Dia Online
Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 12:30 pm
Live on Zoom
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Dia is pleased to announce the upcoming events in its Readings in Contemporary Poetry series. This season, instead of pairing two poets for an evening, curator Vincent Katz has chosen a format that pays tribute to five exemplary poets. For this event, a small group of readers will pay homage to the poet Etel Adnan, followed by a reading of her work by Katz.
The tribute readers for this event will include Kyle Dacuyan, Pierre Joris, Stephen Motika, Sarah Riggs, and Asiya Wadud.
Etel Adnan’s work must be thought of as one whole, a tireless desiring that puts herself plainly in sight, the inquiring consciousness, but not necessarily in the central position. She is not the sun, but perhaps a planet, or maybe a moon. The sun would have to be the universe. I was going to say humanity, as that is one of her central subjects, how all of humanity is connected, is one thing really, and divergences from that — such as war, pillage, rape of natural resources, etc. — are plainly aberrations from that. But it is of course more than humanity. Look at her devotion to a mountain. When asked by an interviewer who her favorite artist was, she answered, “A mountain.” So it is the sea, the land, but in fact it always does come back to humans and how they react. In her paintings, one can see, perhaps most clearly, the extension toward the universe that all matter ultimately exhibits. It is very brightly colored matter; it is matter that makes us happy, despite everything; its goal, seemingly, is to provide happiness, or to attempt to. Her weavings are a further development of that, an artisanal art that brings material into contact with material in a more bound, quieter, way than paint on canvas. Everything she does is poetry, especially her prose.
—Vincent Katz, February 9, 2021
Etel Adnan was born in Beirut in 1925. In solidarity with those fighting against colonial rule in the Algerian War of Independence, Adnan started making paintings (instead of her former practice of writing) as a form of resistance against the political implications of writing in French. Then, through her participation in the movement against the Vietnam War, she began to write poetry and became, in her words, “an American poet.” Her 1977 novel Sitt Marie-Rose won the France-Pays Arabes Award and has been translated into more than ten languages. Adnan is the author of over a dozen books in English, including Journey to Mount Tamalpais (1986), The Arab Apocalypse (1989), In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country (2005), and Sea and Fog (2012), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry and the California Book Award for Poetry. In 2014 she was awarded one of France’s highest cultural honors: l’Ordre de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. Her paintings have been widely exhibited, including at Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany; the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; and Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Ar-Rayyan, Qatar.