Cindy St. John and Venus Opal Reese

Cindy St. John and Venus Opal Reese
When: September 16th, 2010
Where: Members Only Salon

Cindy St. John is the author of City Poems (Effing Press 2009) and People Who Are in Love Will Read This Book Differently (Dancing Girl Press 2009). Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including The Southern ReviewH_NGM_N andCimarron Review. She holds an MFA from Western Michigan University and currently teaches literature and creative writing in Austin, TX.

Map of Summer by Cindy St. John

Speak/swallow highways you take to

horizontal your fist on the horizon squint one eye

sink/eat/starve 500 miles in a car you don’t own

with lips that are not your own and a language you have only half-

memorized to get here

bend/lengthen under the sound

of wind of box fans like no sound or white light or distance

tap the glass remember the body

sweat in the sheet of stars soundless

speak/tip toe over orange

faces/names/tequila bottles

swim/drive your field of vision infinitely

multiplying the weight of your arms you lived/died

Break the glass

fade/disappear into the landscape isn’t that

what you wanted?

Venus Opal Reese is a tenured professor of Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, an award winning solo performer, playwright, director, choreographer and poet. She has performed nationally and internationally for over 20 years. Her solo performance work, Split Ends, was featured on the cover of the Palo Alto Weekly, showcased at the Black Repertory Theatre in Rhode Island and ran off-Broadway at La MaMa ETC. Split Ends was nominated for an AUDELCO Award.  Dr. Reese was recently featured on ABC News and in Glamour Magazine and Diversity Inc., as an expert on race, beauty, and culture. Her performance with the Hip-Hop theatre play, Will Power’s The Seven, was featured in the American Theatre Magazine and won 3 Critic Choice Awards.

Venus has presented and performed internationally at the Sorbonne, Paris, France under the auspices of the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University, La MaMa Umbria International, Spoleto, Italy, and Universita di Padova, Padova, Italy. Nationally she has performed and directed with Cultural Odyssey, AfroSolo, the LA Women’s Festival, and the Hip-Hop Theatre Festival, NYC.

As a scholar, Dr. Reese’s research links Africa, the Middle Passage, Antebellum Slavery, minstrelsy and popular culture through the stories we tell. She offers and designs courses in Spoken Word, Arts and Performance, Theatre, Movement Theatre, African Dance, Hip-Hop Dance, American Character, Acting, Performativity, Cultural Studies, Womanism/Feminism, Queer Theory, Literary Theory, Critical Race Theory, and Identity and Media.

Dr. Reese’s scholarly performative writing has been published in the Women and Performance journal, the Journal for Global Transformation, as well as edited volumes like Recharting the Black Atlantic: Modern Cultures, Local Communities, Global Connections and The Politics of American Actor Training, both with Routledge.


Strange Fruits

(This piece is done as a woman who has come undone–she remembers herself as a little girl.)

(lights up on her singing/slurring bits of Strange Fruit)

…and the twisted mouf

I wasn’t always this way.

(With pride and power.)

I use to be smart.

History was my thing


Now I sing for my supper.

I use to be pretty.

They would—the men—would

play in my hair and say how

(She has difficulty saying this word)

be-au-ti-ful I was

I would sing

(she sings pieces of songs that she can remember)

Givin’ up is so hard to do when you love someone…

Members Only Salon

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