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Nov10
Theatre & Performing Arts

Open Door: Arnold Kemp, AJ McClenon, Ayanah Moor, and isra rene


Join us for a live in-person reading with Arnold Kemp, AJ McClenon, Ayanah Moor, and isra rene. This is a hybrid event, which will be offered in-person and via livestream.

Arnold J. Kemp is an artist and writer. Kemp has mounted solo shows at The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago; Joan, Los Angeles; M. LeBlanc, Chicago; and Martos Gallery, New York. His writing has appeared in Callaloo, Three Rivers Poetry Journal, Agni Review, MIRAGE #4 Period(ical), River Styx, Texte zur Kunst, October, and Spike Art Magazine, among others. He is the recipient of awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. In 2020 he received The Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Kemp lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.

Born and raised in “D.C. proper,” A.J. McClenon studied art and creative writing at the University of Maryland, College Park and The New School prior to receiving a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014. Alongside artistic experiences, A.J. is passionate about teaching and community collaborations with the goal that all the memories and histories that are said to have “too many Black people,” are told and retold again. As a means to uphold these stories A.J. creates writings, performances, installations, objects, sounds, and visuals. These creations often revolve around an interest in water and aquatic life, escapism, Blackness, science, grief, US history, and the global future. A.J. is deeply invested in leveling the hierarchies of truth and using personal narrative to speak on political and cultural amnesia and their absurdities. A.J. currently works and lives in Chicago.

Ayanah Moor is a visual artist who centers Blackness and queerness in her approach to painting, printmedia, and performance. Her artwork is held in the permanent collections of the DePaul Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Soho House (London); and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh. Moor’s recent exhibitions include I Wish I Could Be You More Often, Cleve Carney Museum; t/here or t/here, Intermission Museum + Stand4 Gallery; and Direct Message: Art, Language and Power, MCA Chicago. Moor earned her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University and BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

isra rene believes in you and in me. isra believes in weaved webs of dreams tufted by our inherent connections of love, vulnerability, and care. isra believes in deep research. isra believes in writing love notes. isra believes in reading as meditation and the space between words as a playground. isra believes in the power of studying and the power of not knowing. isra believes in invitation. isra believes.

In-Person Attendance:

All guests over the age of two must wear a mask inside the Poetry Foundation building. Guests over the age of five must show proof of vaccination and booster up to the level to which they are eligible for their age group. Guests over the age of 18 must show ID alongside their proof of vaccination. If you cannot meet these requirements, you will not be granted entry to the event. Please note that some performers may choose to perform without a mask. Guests are encouraged to register in advance.

Livestream Attendance:

The livestream link will be shared with registered guests on the day of the event. In order to receive the livestream details, please register in advance here.

Poetry Foundation’s events are completely free of charge and open to the public. This event will include CART captioning and ASL interpretation. For more information about accessibility at the Poetry Foundation, please visit our Accessibility Guide.


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