January 11, 2024

Doors open

Event begins
If you move to New York City for a life in art, you will meet, or maybe you already have met, Yuko Otomo. Yuko came to New York as well, where, since 1979, she’s inhabited various spaces as a poet, an artist, and, just as importantly, as an audience member. A native Japanese speaker, her exophonic poetry embraces the fact that the English language is secondary, achieving what John Godfrey describes as “an act of reverse alienation.” Her ekphrastic meditations on art and its circumstances are direct, utilitarian and cosmically simple. Because Yuko is a poet who has mastered the art of listening.
Free jazz pianist Matthew Shipp came to the city in 1984 and met Yuko “right away,” while perusing books and records that her life partner Steve Dalachinsky, a poet and creative music lover, would peddle on Spring Street. Since then, Yuko has produced artwork for ten of Matthew's albums and liner notes for three. His eloquent and quixotic playing breaks down and recombines disparate elements of jazz piano in an ever-expanding musical language. Yuko often tells him, “I’m not flattering you but Matt, I have to tell you, every time I hear you, you play something new.” Matthew practices every day in a small studio in Midtown that he walks to from his apartment in the East Village.

For this event, Yuko reads while Matthew plays a rare vintage 1937 Baldwin piano. Yuko's friends Elaine Equi and Brenda Coultas read as well.

Organized by Eli Coplan.

Yuko Otomo, untitled B & W #1, 2020

Baldwin Acrosonic, 1937
Yuko Otomo (b. 1950, Sasebo, Japan) is a bilingual poet and visual artist. Her publications include In Delacroix’s Garden (with Basil King) (Spuyten Duyvil,  2023), Anonymous Landscape (Lithic Press, 2019), KOAN (New Feral Press, 2017), Elements (New Feral Press, 2015), Study (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), The Hand of The Poet (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006), Small Poems (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005), and Garden: Selected Haiku (Beehive Press, 1999). Frozen Heatwave, a collaboration with Steve Dalachinsky (Luna Bisonte Prods, 2017) and the forthcoming PINK (Lithic Press, 2024).

Matthew Shipp (b. 1960, Wilmington, Delaware) is an American free jazz pianist. He has long been a member of saxophonist David S. Ware's quartet and Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory. He has performed and recorded with many musicians, including William Parker, Joe Morris, Daniel Carter, Mat Maneri, Wadada Leo Smith, Joe McPhee, Marshall Allen, El-P, and Ivo Perelman. He has also co-led the group East Axis, with Kevin Ray, Gerald Cleaver, Allen Lowe, and Scott Robinson. He has recorded and performed with the poet Steve Dalachinksy. The recent critical book on him, Singularity Codex by Clifford Allen (RogueArt, 2023), provides a collective overview of his unique qualities as a musician. 
Elaine Equi (b. 1953, Oak Park, Illinois) first published her poetry in her book Federal Woman (Danaides Press, 1978). Other books include The Intangibles (2020), Sentences and Rain (2015), Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems (2007), and Voice-Over (1999), all from Coffee House Press. She guest-edited The Best of American Poetry 2023 (Scribner Poetry, Simon & Schuster).

Brenda Coultas  (b. 1958, Owensboro, Kentucky) moved to New York City to work on the staff of the Poetry Project in the mid-90s. Her poetry can be found in the forthcoming anthology Other Influences: Essays on Feminist Avant-garde Poetic Lineages. Her latest The Writing of an Hour was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2022.