Award-Winning Performance Poet
Roger Bonair-Agard is his own revolution... —Patricia Smith
Dubbed by Thomas Lux as "a poet of blue lightning and white hot passions", Roger Bonair-Agard is a veteran of the spoken-word scene and a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion. He is the author of Tarnish and Masquerade (Rattapallax, 2007) and co-author of Burning Down the House (Soft Skull Press, 2000). His most recent book of poems is GULLY (Cypher Books, 2010). A new book, Bury My Clothes (Haymarket Books), is due out in May 2013. Roger moved to the United States from his native Trinidad and Tobago in 1987. Intending to begin university and eventually pursue law, Roger found himself instead exploring the seediest sides of New York City life. From Harlem to Brooklyn to Washington Heights, his poems explore the intersection between his twenty plus years as an immigrant in America and the Trinidad from which he came.
Roger has appeared three times on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and on the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour amongst other television and numerous radio appearances. For the last ten years he has worked with the youth at Urban Word in New York City, and for the last seven with the youth at Volume in Ann Arbor and Poetry Youth Organizations in Seattle, San Francisco, and the Adirondack Valley, NY. He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the LouderARTS Project in New York. He has also been Adjunct Professor in the Creative Writing Department at Fordham University. Currently Roger is writer-in-residence with Vision Into Art, and Poet In Residence with Young Chicago Authors. He teaches poetry at the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, IL.
Roger is also a Cave Canem fellow, and has studied under Yusef Komunyakaa, Cornelius Eady, Marilyn Nelson, Toi Derricotte, and Patricia Smith. He has lead countless workshops and lectures, and has performed his poetry at many American universities as well as international festivals in Germany, Switzerland, Milan and Jamaica.
About BURY MY CLOTHES (2013)
Bury My Clothes is a meditation on violence, race, and the place in art at which they intersect. Art—specifically in oppressed communities—is about survival, Roger Bonair-Agard asserts, and establishing personhood in a world that says you have none. Through poetry, we transform both the world of art and the world itself.
About GULLY (2010)
"In Gully, Roger Bonair-Agard presents the phenomena of muscle memory with such wit and lyricism that the body comes alive. The reader finds his or her own limbs twitching in response to the poems’ infectious groove. The aftershocks of history are revealed under that lens in all their vivid contradiction and verve. While the sidelines of history are theorizing 'postcolonial,' 'post-racial,' 'postmodern,' Bonair-Agard is in the game, 'all feint and dip sharp/ left jab-step and full sprint right/ split knuckle and the rust of blood in the cheek.' This collection is the pin that weaves together our disparate world. Why shouldn’t it prick the thumb to show us what we’re made of?" —Gregory Pardlo
About TARNISH AND MASQUERADE (2007)
"These sunwashed revelations—this lilting, uproarious, precise gospel—brings so much to the table that the reader is nearly overwhelmed. Roger Bonair-Agard is his own revolution, a deft purveyor of unflinching politics, stark sensuality and the relentless drum of the island home that beckons from every page. There is simply no resisting these stanzas, absolutely no way to turn away from what they will do to you." —Patricia Smith
A veteran of the spoken-word scene, two-time National Slam Champion Roger Bonair-Agard releases his first full length poetry collection with accompanying CD full of spellbinding performances. These poems chart an exile'ss coming-of-age mirroring the increasingly relevant immigrant's experience. Whether set in Trinidad, Washington Heights, Texas, Brooklyn or other locales, Bonair-Agard's poems contain words of clarity, compassion and unsentimentality, written (and spoken) with equal parts joy and fury.