Join us for an evening of dynamic poetry readings featuring work that responds directly to photographs in Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection. Participating poets were invited to choose an image or group of images in the exhibition to respond to through creation of a new work or interpretation of an original or historical piece. The image or images will be projected while the poets read, allowing the audience to dive deeper into the connections between the visual and the textual.

This event is co-curated with the Poetry Society of America. Participating poets include Angel Nafis, Matthea Harvey, Christopher Soto, Robert Polito, Diane Exavier, Desiree C. Bailey, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Paolo Javier. More readers to be announced.

At the conclusion of the program, we will open the mic up to the audience and invite rehearsed or spontaneous poetry or prose that responds to the images in Your Mirror. Each participant is allowed three minutes of mic time.

This is a free event, but please register in advance. ICP Members have access to preferred seating in our reserved members’ section.

This program is held in conjunction with Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection. Our ICP Museum–public program combination ticket grants $10 entry to the galleries starting at 4:30 PM to those attending the program. Tickets are only available online when you register for the program.

Read our public program attendance policies.

About Photo Prose

Photography and poetry have a storied history of intrinsic connection. Perhaps linked by their ability to inscribe meaning or hold a magnifying glass to a fixed moment in time. Or through the nuances that are revealed when a moment is captured in light or language. The ability of both images and the written word to evoke feeling while also embodying their own language of symbols, metaphors, and subtlety allow a unique transference of understanding between the two that has been celebrated by artists and authors alike. ICP’s public program series Photo Prose carries on that tradition while inviting poets, artists, and the community to engage with and activate the images within the ICP Museum.


Diane Exavier is a writer and theater-maker whose work invites audiences to participate in performance that rejects passive reception. Her work has been presented at Bushwick Starr, Haiti Cultural Exchange, Westmont College, the Flea Theater, Sibiu's International Theater Festival in Romania, New Urban Arts, West Chicago City Museum, Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, and more. Her writing appears in Cunjuh Magazine, the Atlas Review, and the Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind, among other publications. Her chapbook, Teaches of Peaches, was published by TAR Chapbook Series in 2017. Diane lives and works in Brooklyn.

Desiree C. Bailey is the author of the fiction chapbook In Dirt or Saltwater (O’Clock Press, 2016), and has been published in Best American Poetry, Callaloo, The Rumpus, Washington Square Review, One World Two: A Second Global Anthology of Short Stories and elsewhere. She has an MFA from Brown University and has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Poets House, Kimbilio Fiction, Callaloo, and the Norman Mailer Center. She is from Trinidad and Tobago, and Queens, NY.

Paolo Javier was born in Quezon City and grew up in Las Piñas; Katonah; al-Ma'adi; and North Delta. A featured artist in Queens International 2018, he has recorded three albums of sound poetry with Listening Center (David Mason), including the limited edition pamphlet/cassette Ur’lyeh/ Aklopolis (Texte und Töne 2016) and the chapbook/cassette Maybe the Sweet Honey Pours (Nion Editions/Temporary Tapes 2018). The author of four full-length books of poetry, he recently completed OBB (Nightboat Books 2020), a [weird postcolonial techno dreampop] comics poem, with illustrations by Alex Tarampi and Ernest Concepcion. He lives with his family in Queens.

Angel Nafis is the author of BlackGirl Mansion (Red Beard Press, 2012). She earned her BA at Hunter College and her MFA in poetry at Warren Wilson College. Her work has appeared in BuzzFeed Reader, them, Poetry Magazine, the BreakBeat Poets anthologies series, and elsewhere. Nafis is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Millay Colony, the Poetry Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Founder and curator of the Greenlight Bookstore Poetry Salon, she is also half of the Odes For You Tour with poet, musician, and visual artist Shira Erlichman, and with poet Morgan Parker, she runs the Other Black Girl Collective. Reading poems and facilitating workshops across the country she lives and works in Brooklyn.

Matthea Harvey is the author of five books of poetry—If the Tabloids are True What Are You?, Of Lamb (an illustrated erasure with images by Amy Jean Porter), Modern Life (a finalist for the National Book Critics Cirlcle Award and a New York Times Notable Book), Sad Little Breathing Machine, and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form. She has also published two children’s books, Cecil the Pet Glacier, illustrated by Giselle Potter, and The Little General and the Giant Snowflake, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.

Robert Polito’s most recent books are the poetry collection Hollywood & God and Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber. He received a National Book Critics Circle Award for Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson. The founding director of the Graduate Writing Program and the Riggio Honors Program: Writing & Democracy at the New School, he served as president of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago (2013–2015), before returning to New York and the New School. His current projects include a catalog of Manny Farber’s paintings (co-edited with Michael Almereyda and Jonathan Lethem) and a book about Bob Dylan, as well as new poems and essays.

Christopher Soto (b. 1991, Los Angeles) is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of the chapbook Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). He cofounded the Undocupoets Campaign and worked with Amazon Literary Partnerships to establish grants for undocumented writers. In 2017, he was awarded the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism by Split This Rock and he was invited to teach a Poetry and Protest Movements course at Columbia University, as part of the June Jordan Teaching Corp. In 2016, Poets & Writers honored Christopher Soto with the Barnes & Nobles Writer for Writers Award. He frequently writes book reviews for the Lambda Literary Foundation. His poems, reviews, interviews, and articles can be found at The Nation, The Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Tin House, and more. His work has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Thai. He has been invited to speak at university campuses across the country. He is currently working on a full-length poetry manuscript about police violence and mass incarceration. He received his MFA in poetry from NYU, where he was a Goldwater Hospital Writing Workshop Fellow.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips is a poet, author, screenwriter, academic, translator and journalist. His books include The Ground, Heaven, and The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey. He is also the author of influential critical study When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness. Phillips has been the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award, the PEN/Osterweil Prize for Poetry, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the GLCA New Writers Award. His most recent book, The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey, won the 2019 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting. He lives in New York City and Barcelona.


Image: P. H. Polk, Mr. & Mrs. T. M. Campbell and children, ca. 1932. International Center of Photography, Purchase, with funds provided by the Lois and Bruce Zenkel Purchase Fund,
1982 (96.1982.h) © Tuskegee University Archives