An Experimental Writers Reading Series

curated by Laura Hinton at The City College of New York



         Virginia Woolf once described women’s writing as “interrupting” the “smooth gliding of sentence” in literary fiction.  More recently, the Language Poet Bruce Andrews has referred to “ironic rupture” as the basis of a critical poetics practice, a form of “Brechtian” distancing that requires a radical re-theorizing of writing, aesthetics and the political. 

            InterRUPTions is a reading series at the City College of New York featuring writers who rupture or break with established modes of writing.  While experimental, conceptual views of multi-disciplinary writing in relation to the political have long circulated in New York City,  they are often only associated with Manhattan’s “Downtown” literary scene, below 14th Street.  Our City College neighborhood in Harlem has its own rich history of literary-artistic innovation and politically engaged art.  InterRUPTions seeks to bring traditionally “Downtown” writers to CCNY’s Uptown campus, which is one of the city’s most ethnically diverse college communities.  In order to foster an on-going exchange on topics concerning aesthetics and values, art and ideas, discussions follow every reading.  Most events have been co-sponsored by Poets & Writers Inc. in the past. 


The Audience

            InterRUPTions brings together students and community members.  It is advertised on the national Poetics List and within the New York City free media.  While its base audience consists of non-resident graduate and undergraduate students studying in the CCNY English M.A.and M.F.A. program, the series also draws members from the New York City region at large.  Laura Hinton coordinates the series schedule with the CCNY English graduate seminar, “American Women’s Experimental Writing.”  


Student Involvement

            Student involvement in InterRUPTions has traditionally been crucial to the success of the series.  The series began in 2003 as a project between Professor Hinton and her graduate students.  Many CCNY students have generously volunteered their time over the past decade-plus, including former CCNY students Monica Sirigano ,Mimi Allin , Laura Modigliani, Dee McAree, Carmel McMahon, Jackie Clark, Matt Mead, and Gregory Crosby.



Announcing 2015 Reading Event

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge 

Wednesday, April 1, 7 p.m.

The City College of New York

Amsterdam at 138th St.

North Academic Complex (NAC), Rifkind Room (6th Floor)

Sponsored by the English Department.  Open to the public.




Former InterRUPTions Readings: A Brief History


Norma Cole read to a packed Rifkind Room in the Fall of 2012.  Based in San Francisco, and associated with the poets of the Language School as well as the former collective of feminist experimentalists How(ever), Cole is the author of 15 poetry books including 


Cover of the Jayne Cortez memorial program, from the Celebration of her life at Cooper Union's Great Hall, 2012.

Cover of the Jayne Cortez memorial program, from the Celebration of her life at Cooper Union's Great Hall, 2012.

Jayne Cortez, who read in December of 2009, is the author of twelve books of poetry and performer of poems with music on nine recordings.  Jayne Cortez tragically passed away in 2012.  We did not know this would be one of our final chances to hear Cortez in person present her astounding performance poetry.  We grieve with Cortez's many fans and her family.  

Since Cortez's death, Professor Hinton has been working on a book that incorporates essays on Cortez's poetics, and organized a tribute panel at the American Literature Association for its May 2014 Washington D.C. meeting, that discussed Cortez's importance as a political activist and sound poet.

Cortez's voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound. She presented her work around the world. Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals, and magazines.  She received several awards including Arts International, the National Endowment for the Arts, the International African Festival Award, the Langston Hughes Medal, The American Book Award and the Thelma Mc-Andless Distinguished Professorship Award.  Her books include The Beautiful Book (Bola Press 2007), On The Imperial Highway (2009) and Jazz Fan Looks Back (Hanging Loose Press 2002). CDs with her Firespitter Band include "Find Your Own Voice" and "Borders of Disorderly Time" (Bola Press), as well as "Taking the Blues Back Home," produced by Harmolodic and by Verve Records.  Cortez was also the organizer of the international symposium "Slave Routes: Resistance, Abolition & Creative Progress" at NYU 2008, and director of the film, Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization. She was co/founder and president of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Inc & can be seen on screen in the films Women In Jazz and Poetry In Motion.


Bruce Andrews read in February in the Rifkind Center Room  Andrews is the author of over 40 books of poetry, including Mistaken Identity (Faux Press), Lip Service (Coffee House Press) and Plans Carry Weight (housepress).  He is also the author of numerous essays on poetry and poetics, and co-edited the legendary journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E from 1978-1981(with Charles Bernstein).  As a performance poet, Andrews has collaborated in text-music-dance stagings with numerous artists, including the choreographer Sally Silvers.  He is also a social scientist, and holds a professorship in Political Science at Fordham University in New York City. 

Tracie Morris read and performed her “sound poetry” in April in the Graduate Student Lounge.  About 75 students were in attendance.  Morris is a multi-disciplinary artist and performance poet, whose work combine voice, jazz, and hybridic texts.  She has performed throughout the country, as well as Europe and Asia.  Her  recordings are available at the Whitney Museum and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.


Lyn Hejinian read in March, to a standing-room only crowd in the Rifkind Room.  Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, Hejinian is the author of over 30 books of poetry, including My Life and The Cold of Poetry (both from Sun & Moon Press), and, recently, The Fatalist (Omnidawn) and A Border Comedy (Granary Books).  She is the author of two volumes of critical prose, including The Language of Inquiry (University of California Press); numerous translations and multi-media collaborations.  Since 1976, she has been the editor of Tuumba Press; from 1981 to 1999, she was co-editor of Poetics Journal (with Barrett Watten). In 2000 she was elected a Fellow of the Academy of American Poets. 



Rae Armantrout read in November in the IRADAC Art Gallery.  Armantrout is the author of Up to Speed (Wesleyan University Press 2004), and six books of poetry, including Veil: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan, 2001).  She is a professor of poetry at the University of California, San Diego, and the year after her City College reading, she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.


Leslie Scalapino read in December of 2004 at the CCNY Compton-Goethals Art Gallery,.  Nearly 100 students and faculty from across the Humanities disciplines were in attendance.  Before she tragically died of cancer in 2010, Scalapino  had published of over 30 books of poetry, fiction, plays, intergenre writing and essays.   This unique reading was followed by a special colloquium on Scalapino’s work, with talks given by Elizabeth Frost of Fordham University and Laura Hinton of CCNY, with Scalapino responding.  There were more than 70 students and faculty in attendance at this special event, which was held at the Compton Art Gallery. 

Renee Gladman, the author of two books of experimental fiction, read in March as part of Women’s History Month calendar of events.


Mei-mei Berssenbrugge gave the first InterRUPTions reading in October 2003.  Following the reading was a public interview of the poet with Laura Hinton and CCNY graduate students, later to be published in Jacket (on line), and reprinted in The Journal of the Academy of American Poets and the anthology In Her Own Words (University of Iowa Press 2007). 

Carla Harryman, associated with the Bay Area’s Language School and co-founder of the San Francisco Poet’s Theater, read in November 2003. 

Marjorie Welish, a New York abstract poet and painter,  read March 2004 in the IRADAC Art Gallery.  





Sponsorship and More Information ...  Events are sponsored by the CCNY English Department and its Division of the Humanities & Arts. Other support in the past has been provided by Poets & Writers, Inc., with public funds from The New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.  Additional support during various years has come from: the CCNY Rifkind Center and the Division of Humanities and Arts; the CCNY Graduate Student Association and student group called “The Poetry Gap.” 


For more information about InterRUPTions, please contact Laura Hinton.