Feb 22 & 24 Rommi Smith Performs the Archive

Rommi Smith, poet, playwright, performer, and the first British Parliamentary Writer in Residence, comes to the Graduate Center February 22 to present a stunning lecture-performance animated by her archival exploration of the lives of women jazz and blues musicians.

A John Barnard Scholar at The University of Leeds, UK, Smith’s transdisciplinary, practice-led PhD, artfully combines scholarship with poetry, music, performance, and archival research. In her lecture-performance titled The Map Where We Meet and Other Queer Stories: Writers as Cartographers on the Crossroads of ChangeSmith builds the narratives of her subjects and their historical contexts as she simultaneously exposes the paths of her doctoral research.

On Friday afternoon February 24, Smith will share in archival storytelling and creative writing in two events. She will appear with a panel of CUNY author-scholars who, like her, take creative cues from archival work in Unveiling the Archives: A Paneled Reading. In The Music of the Archives: A Creative Writing Workshop, Smith invites writers and researchers interested in combining scholarship with artistic practice to gather to put pen to paper.

Smith’s appearances at the GC begin a three-month visit to NYC where she will continue to explore archives and set to work on a collection of poems, one of the requirements of her PhD.

Smith offered an earlier version of her presentation at the Archives Libraries and Museums LGBT Conference in London in 2016, where she met GC librarians Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz and Polly Thistlethwaite, who are thrilled to connect her performance and practice with GC community archivists, scholars, and artists.

Join the GC Library in one or all three events that engage Rommi Smith at the Graduate Center.

Rommi Smith: The Map Where We Meet and Other Queer Stories
Writers as cartographers on the crossroads of change
A Lecture- as-Performance & Discussion with Rommi Smith.
Weds, Feb 22 | The Graduate Center, CUNY | Segal Theatre
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Co-sponsored by CLAGS: the Center for LGBTQ Studies, the Graduate Center Theatre Program, and the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center

RSVP here

Unveiling the Archives: A Paneled Reading
A panel of creative writers and archival researchers: Rommi Smith (University of Leeds, Transdisciplinary), Makeba Lavan (Graduate Center, English), Julius Baltonado (Queens College MFA, Poetry), &  Mary Catherine Ford (Queens College MFA, Fiction)
Fri, Feb 24 | The Graduate Center, CUNY | Skylight Room | 1pm – 2:30pm
Co-sponsored by the Queens College Louis Armstrong Archives Writers in Residence Program

RSVP here

The Music of the Archives: A Creative Writing Workshop
Led by Rommi Smith, explore Audre Lorde’s dictum that: “poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.” Bring paper, pen, a collection of poems you love (or that you’re reading at the moment) and any articles, fragments, objects, or documents which relate to your own research. 
Fri, Feb 24 | The Graduate Center, CUNY | Skylight Room
2:30pm – 5pm
Co-sponsored by the Queens College Louis Armstrong Archives Writers in Residence Program

RSVP here


This lecture-as-performance is written and performed by Rommi Smith. It is a collaboration with the following artists and creatives:

Juliet Ellis: Director and Filmmaker
Juliet Ellis is a theatre-maker, performance artist and filmmaker. She recently completed a four-month residency at the prestigious Binger Lab in Amsterdam. As well as creating her own work, Juliet has also devised work with renowned artists such as Julie Tolentino, DV8’S Nigel Charnock and Third Angel. Juliet’s career as an actor has seen her work with some of Britain’s best talent: Ray Winstone, Kay Mellor, Christopher Fulford and Ken Loach. www.julietellis.com

Jason Hird: Dramaturg
Jason Hird directs and produces participatory public art. Collaboration, co-production, participation and site-responsive experiences lie at the heart of his interdisciplinary work. Hird creates participatory and immersive experiences. His background is in Art History, Dance and Theatre and he has worked with some of the world’s most exceptional clowns. Current projects include LIFE BOAT – the slowest ride on Earth (a participatory installation); and a Handbook for Being Human in the 21st Century – a co-authoring process with a number of different communities in Leeds. He is the Artistic Producer for the Institute for Crazy Dancing. See www.icdancing.com for more information.

Jenni Molloy: Musician and Composer
Jenni Molloy is a critically acclaimed jazz double bassist and composer, known for her live and recording project ‘Bach ReLoaded Trio +’ www.bachreloaded.com. She has collaborated on numerous theatre, poetry and improvised music projects, internationally. A much in-demand jazz bassist, Jenni is also a Goju Ryu martial artist, running the Tsuyoi Kokoro Dojo in Leeds www.tsuyoikokoro.co.uk

Mat Lazenby: Designer
Mat Lazenby is a graphic designer whose work is inspired both by traditional typographic discipline as well as the immediacy and political messages of street art. He is creative director of LazenbyBrown in York, England. A creative fellow of York St John University and CCAD, he is currently Master of the Guild of Media Arts. www.lazenbybrown.com

Ros Steen: Vocal Coach
Professor Ros Steen (MA (Hons), DSD, IPA, FRSAMD) established and led the National Centre of Excellence for the teaching, practice and research of Voice in Performance at the Royal Conservatoire, Scotland. Professor Steen secured the Centre’s outstanding national and international reputation in this field. Professor Steen retired from The Royal Conservatoire, Scotland in 2013, but continues to practice professionally.

Hazel Holder: Dialect Coach
Hazel Holder is an actor, singer, and a dialect coach for theatrical institutions ranging from the National Theatre to the Royal Court.  Her most recent work, as a dialect coach includes: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (The National Theatre, London); Father Comes Home from the Wars: Parts 1, 2 &3 (The Royal Court, London); Angels in America (The National Theatre, London) and Dream Girls (The Savoy Theatre, London) http://www.hazelholder.com/

Tenzin Haarhaus: Sound Recordist and Sound Engineer
Tenzin Harhaaus is a musician, song-writer and sound engineer. He teaches at Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK.

Matthew Elliot: Technician, UK
Matthew Elliot is a theatre-maker and community arts activist. He is currently undertaking a practice-led PhD at Leeds University, exploring youth theatre as a medium of social change and youth advocacy.

About the Author

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz is an Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at the Graduate Center Library.