Artists Space

Ishmael Reed in Conversation

June 22, 2021, 7pm

Ishmael Reed in Conversation with Justin Desmangles. Tuesday, June 22, 2021, 7pm. Artists Space, New York. [Video documentation of multiple individuals engaged in dialogue.]

A book cover with text reading: "RHINE / STONE / SHARE / CROPPING / a novel / by BILL GUNN author of / Black Picture Show." Below the text is an image of multiple filmstrips arranged to form a grid.
Rhinestone Sharecropping. Berkeley: I. Reed Books, 1981. [A book cover with text reading: "RHINE / STONE / SHARE / CROPPING / a novel / by BILL GUNN author of / Black Picture Show." Below the text is an image of multiple filmstrips arranged to form a grid.]

Artists Space presents a conversation with poet, playwright, and long-time Bill Gunn collaborator Ishmael Reed and literary figure Justin Desmangles, next Tuesday, June 22nd at 7pm on zoom. For the conversation, the two will discuss Reed's role in publishing Gunn's writing and the difficulties of finding commercial success as a Black Artist. Reed's collaborations with Gunn notably include the publication of Rhinestone Sharecropping (1981) and Black Picture Show (1975), both released by Reed's company I. Reed Books, and the classic made for tv soap-opera Personal Problems (1981), which was written and produced by Reed and directed by Gunn.

One of America’s most significant literary figures, Ishmael Reed has published over 30 books of poetry, prose, essays, and plays, as well as penned hundreds of lyrics for musicians ranging from Taj Mahal to Macy Gray. His work is known for its satirical, ironic take on race and literary tradition, as well as its innovative, post-modern technique.

Reed’s books of poetry include Conjure (1972), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and nominated for the National Book Award, Chattanooga (1973), A Secretary to the Spirits (1978), New and Collected Poems (1988), and New and Collected Poems 1964-2007, which was named one of the best books of poetry of the year by the New York Times, and won the California Gold Medal in Poetry, awarded by the Commonwealth Club. His more recent poetry collection is Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues, Poems 2007-2020. Reed’s poems have been published in other forms as well. His work has been featured as part of poetry walks in Berkeley, California and Richmond, New York; it also appears as an installation in a BART station in Richmond, California.

Reed’s many novels include the critically acclaimed Mumbo Jumbo (1972), The Terrible Twos (1982), Japanese by Spring (1993), Juice! (2011), Conjugating Hindi (2018), and The Terrible Fours (2021). Recent essay collections include The Complete Muhammad Ali (2015), Going Too Far: Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown (2012), Barack Obama and The Jim Crow Media, Or The Return of the ‘Nigger Breakers’ (2010) and Mixing It Up: Taking On The Media Bullies & Other Reflections (2008). Ishmael Reed: The Plays collected Reed’s six plays and was published in 2003. Reed has also edited numerous anthologies, most recently among them Black Hollywood Unchained: Commentary on the State of Black Hollywood (2015) Powwow, Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience: Short Fiction From Then to Now (2008), which he co-edited with his wife Carla Blank. He edits the online literary magazine Konch and blogs for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Justin Desmangles is chairman of the Before Columbus Foundation, administrator of the American Book Award, and host of the radio broadcast New Day Jazz. A member of the board of directors of the Oakland Book Festival, Mr. Desmangles is also a program producer at the African-American Center of the San Francisco Public Library.

Program support for Artists Space is provided by The Friends of Artists Space, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, The Cy Twombly Foundation, The David Teiger Foundation, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The New York Community Trust, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Willem de Kooning Foundation, The Danielson Foundation, The Fox Aarons Foundation, Herman Goldman Foundation, The Destina Foundation, The Luce Foundation, May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, VIA Art Fund, Arison Arts Foundation, The Chicago Community Fund, The David Rockefeller Fund, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, The Jill and Peter Kraus Foundation, The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation.