Jorrell Watkins & Romeo Oriogun

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - 7:00pm

Writers' Workshop alumni Jorrell Watkins and Romeo Oriogun will read from their poetry.

Jorrell Watkins will read from Play/House, published by Northwestern University Press. “The ideas of 'play' and 'house' are interwoven gradually in Jorrell Watkins’s debut collection, with the changing light stretching and bending the shadows of masculinity, familial intimacy, and societal violences. Through his intense play with the vernacular and syntax of blk English, Watkins defamiliarizes urban Southern blkness and captures sincerely a  poignant slice of the blk psyche at this particular moment in American history.” – Kyle Dargan, Books Editor at Wondaland

Jorrell Watkins is an alum of Hampshire College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  He has received fellowships from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Smithsonian Institution, Fulbright Japan, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His disability inclusive play Meet us at the Horizon was produced by Combined Efforts Theater Co. His chapbook If Only the Sharks Would Bite won the inaugural Desert Pavilion Chapbook Series in Poetry. He is also the coauthor of Studies in Brotherly Love, a poetry chapbook based on Malcolm Corley’s paintings.He lives in LA and is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing & Literature at USC.

Romeo Oriogun will read from The Gathering of Bastards, a 2024 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in Poetry. “‘I walk alone, trying to find / the whisper of roads, trying to sieve through water / the haunting’ writes Romeo Oriogun in the book that is a journey, both through place and history, yes, but also the soul. To say that The Gathering of Bastards is an impressive collection is an understatement. It is one of soul-making indeed. Here ‘rain bears witness to bodies / thrown overboard slave ships,’ and the spell of verbal music bears wisdom. Oriogun is a kind of writer whose music will never stop. The kind that will survive the test of time. Bravo.”—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic

Romeo Oriogun won the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Sacrament of Bodies, published by University of Nebraska Press.   He is the author of Sacrament of Bodies (Nebraska, 2020) and Nomad.    He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and now lives in Iowa City.

Event address: 
Prairie Lights Books
15 S Dubuque St
Iowa City, IA 52240
PlayHouse: Poems By Jorrell Watkins Cover Image
ISBN: 9780810147133
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Curbstone Books 2 - April 15th, 2024

Poems on Black joy, masculinity, and the music that transforms a space into a home
Jorrell Watkins's debut poetry collection is a polyvocal, musically charged disruption of the United States's fixation on drug and gun culture. The poems in Play|House embody many identities, including son, brother, fugitive, bluesman, karate practitioner, and witness.

The Gathering of Bastards (African Poetry Book ) By Romeo Oriogun Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496234032
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Nebraska Press - October 1st, 2023

2024 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in Poetry

Like I knew, standing
on the seashore, the hunger
wracking a migrant’s body
is movement.
—from Romeo Oriogun’s “Migrant by the Sea”

The Gathering of Bastards chronicles the movement of migrants as they navigate borders both internal and external.