“Boneyarn: A Poetry Reading and Discussion about Slavery in New York City”

with David Mills

Thursday, June 10, 2021, at 7:00 PM ET

Approx. 60 minutes

View Program - coming soon

This online event is free, but registration is required. You will be sent an email with a link and instructions on how to join the event upon registration.

In this program, poet David Mills will read from and reflect upon the research behind his recent collection, Boneyarn, the first-ever book of poems about slavery in New York City. The city holds the oldest and largest slave cemetery in the United States—the African Burial Ground—which was open from 1712 to 1795 and is located in Wall Street’s shadows. Fifteen thousand enslaved and free Blacks, some Native Americans, and poor whites are buried there. Mills creatively “excavates” the tragedies and triumphs of New York’s enslaved and free Black community. He writes about those who toiled as cooks, childhood chimney sweeps, sailed the Atlantic, fought in the Revolutionary War, maintained African traditions when burying the dead, built the “wall” where Wall Street gets its name, and regrettably were dehumanized in life and sometimes desecrated in death. The collection also includes a suite of poems dedicated to Jupiter Hammon; born into slavery in New York, Hammon was the first Black poet published in North America.

Headshot of David MillsDavid Mills holds an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College and an M.A. from New York University in creative writing. He’s published four collections: Boneyarn (New York slavery poems), After Mistic (Massachusetts slavery poems), The Sudden Country and The Dream Detective. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Fence, Crab Orchard Review, Jubilat, Callaloo, Brooklyn Rail, and Obsidian. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Breadloaf, the American Antiquarian Society (2019 Hearst Fellow), the Queens Council on the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation, and won the 2021 Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize. He lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years. He wrote the audio script for Macarthur Genius Award-winner Deborah Willis’s curated exhibition Reflections in Black: 100 Years of Black Photography, which showed at the Whitney and Getty West Museums. The Juilliard School of Drama commissioned and produced a play by Mr. Mills. He has also recorded his poetry on ESPN and RCA Records.

If you are interested in purchasing a signed copy of Boneyarn, please contact David Mills directly at simplysyllables@yahoo.com.

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