In her fourth poetry collection, Cynthia Dewi Oka performs a lyric accounting of the anti-Communist genocide of 1965, which, led by the Indonesian military and with American assistance, erased and devastated millions of lives in Indonesia. Under the New Order dictatorship that ruled by terror for over three decades in the aftermath, perpetrators of the killings were celebrated as national heroes while survivors were systemically silenced.
Drawing on US state documents that were only declassified in recent years, Oka gives form and voice to the ghosts that continue to haunt subsequent generations despite decades of state-produced amnesia and disinformation. In service of recovering what must not be remembered, A Tinderbox in Three Acts (BOA Editions, LTD.) repurposes the sanitized lexicon of official discourse, imagines an emotional syntax for the unthinkable, and employs synesthetic modes of perception to convey that which exceeds language. Here, the boundary between singular and collective consciousness is blurred. Here, history as an artifact of the powerful is trumped by the halting memory of those power sought to destroy. Where memory fails, here is poetry to honor the dishonored, the betrayed, the lost and still-awaited for.
The author will be joined by poets Arthur Kayzakian, Vanessa Angélica Villareal, & Kien Lam for an evening of in-person readings at Beyond Baroque. A reception will be held with food & light refreshments before and after the performances.
Doors open: 7:30 p.m.
Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and Salvage (2017) from Northwestern University Press, and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (2016) from Thread Makes Blanket Press. A recipient of the Amy Clampitt Residency, Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, and the Leeway Transformation Award, her writing appears in The Atlantic, POETRY, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Hyperallergic, Guernica, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her experimental poem, “Future Revisions,” was exhibited at the Rail Park billboard in Philadelphia in summer 2021. An alumnus of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, New Mexico State University and Voices of Our Nations (VONA). She is originally from Bali, Indonesia.
Arthur Kayzakian is the winner of the 2021 Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series award for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is also the winner of the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition for his chapbook, My Burning City. He has been a finalist for the Locked Horn Press Chapbook Prize, Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, the C.D. Wright Prize, the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and the Black River Chapbook Competition. He is a contributing editor at Poetry International and a recipient of the Minas Savvas Fellowship. He serves as the Poetry Chair for the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from several publications including Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Portland Review, Chicago Review, Nat. Brut, Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness Magazine, and Prairie Schooner.
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is the author of Beast Meridian (Noemi Press, 2017), recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award, a Kate Tufts Discovery Award nomination, and winner of the John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Harpers Bazaar, Oxford American, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. She is a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellow, and a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she is working on a poetry and a nonfiction collection while raising her son.
Kien Lam is the author of Extinction Theory, winner of the 2021 National Poetry Series. He is a Kundiman fellow and received his MFA from Indiana University. He lives in Los Angeles and works in esports and television.
This event is Free & In-Person at Beyond Baroque. Masks are required while inside our center.
Beyond Baroque reserves the right to remove individuals from our events, virtual or otherwise, if they are not respecting the space, fellow attendees, or performers.
If you can’t join us in person the event will be streamed live on Beyond Baroque’s YouTube channel at the scheduled time of the event.
Please RSVP if you are planning to attend this event. We accept walk-ins, but priority will be given to people that have registered. Limited seating is available; we recommend arriving early.