Minneapolis poet, graphic designer to present reading


April 8, 2021

A Minneapolis-based poet and graphic designer whose poetry career has gotten off to a dynamic start is the Literary Arts Institute’s latest visiting writer.

Chaun Webster will be presenting a virtual reading followed by a conversation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27. The link to the video will be supplied approximately one week before the event.

Webster’s debut book, “GeNtry!fication: Or the Scene of the Crime,” was published by Noemi Press in 2018. It received the Minnesota Book Award for poetry in 2019.

The book was also lauded as an impressive debut by Publisher’s Weekly, a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business and known in the book world as “the bible of the book business.”

“(The book) foregrounds innovation in language and design to consider the stakes of legibility for black disposable subjects of a colonial enterprise and to chronicle the struggles of a North Minneapolis beset by gentrification and racism,” Publisher’s Weekly reported.

Book coverIn pushing the boundaries of the poetry book as form, Webster aims to “speculate another world/ one repossessed/ from some discarded archive/ organized into existence.” Though the narrative changes page by page, as if more committed to eluding capture than to comprehension, Webster’s excavation and engagement with a global black diasporic tradition covers crucial new poetic ground,” Publisher’s Weekly concluded

Webster investigates race in “GeNtry!fication,” drawing inspiration from sign in graffiti, layering of collage and the visual experience of text. He engages the question of absence, how to archive what is missing from the landscape, particularly as a number of communities watch in real time as neighborhoods once populated with familiar presences dissolve in the vernacular of redevelopment and its linked colonial logic.

“Were I to ride the number 19 bus through North Minneapolis, there is no one else I’d rather run into than the runaway-trickster-poet, Chaun Webster,” said Minneapolis-based writer and poet Lara Mimosa Montes, author of “The Somnambulist,” on the Noemi Press website.

“If this book doesn’t make you nervous, then step back and put your ear to the ground – listen to ‘what lay between and around the subject,’ in that forbiDIN space, at the corners of Lowry and Penn. Along these streets lies this book, a series of rogue communiqués for those deemed ‘out of place’ and in need of an insurrectionary survival text,” Montes said.

The LAI was founded in 1997 to foster creative writing, publishing and interaction between students and writers. The LAI brings nationally recognized authors to CSB/SJU for the year-long Minnesota Street Visiting Writers Series and fosters the mentoring of CSB/SJU undergraduates by sponsoring the McNeely Creative Writer in Residence, who provides constructive feedback and advice for undergraduate creative writers. 

Additionally, the LAI supports publications and authors via the Sister Mariella Gable Prize, which is given each year by CSB for an important work of literature published by Graywolf Press, and encourages the artistry of fine letterpress through its partnership with the Welle Book Arts Studio and independent presses such as Bruno Press.

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Chaun Webster

Chaun Webster