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This presentation will delve into today’s fractured politics with respect to what has come before. Hettie Jones provides a unique perspective, as a onetime publisher of Yugen magazine—a groundbreaking journal of radical literature, which ran for eight issues from 1958 to 1962 and created a body of literature for children of color when there was none—and as a former chair of the PEN Prison Writing Program.

This program is the second in ICP’s series “Radical Conversation: Making America Great,” which explores the current political crisis and the nature of personal responsibility and action in this moment.


Hettie Jones is an important poet and a revolutionary voice from the Beat Generation. Best known for How I Became Hettie Jones, her memoir of the “beat scene,” Jones is the author of 24 books for children and adults, including the award-winning Big Star Fallin’ Mama, Five Women in Black Music. Drive, her first poetry collection, won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber Award; it was followed by second and third collections, All Told and Doing 70. Her short prose has been published in journals, such as the Village Voice, Global City Review, Fence, and Ploughshares, and there are numerous interviews and some of her performances online.

In addition to her own work, Jones has authored memoirs for Rita Marley (No Woman No Cry) and others, and taught writing in colleges, prisons, and community settings. The former Chair of PEN’s Prison Writing Committee, she currently teaches graduate writing at the New School and a memoir workshop at the 92nd Street Y.

Love, H, selections from her 40-year correspondence with the sculptor Helene Dorn, was published in 2016 by Duke University Press, and is available in both print and e-book editions.

Accra Shepp (moderator) is a photo-based artist whose work has explored our relationship with the natural environment, such as in his 2014 solo exhibition at the Queens Museum that looked at the more than 40 islands that make up New York City. His work is in a number of important public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His images of Occupy Wall Street have been exhibited all over the world, most recently in Sweden and Germany, and were excerpted in the book The Order of Things (Steidl, 2015). Shepp is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, including a Fulbright Fellowship. He has taught at the International Center
of Photography, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Columbia University.

TOP IMAGE: © Accra Shepp