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Celebration of Assotto Saint's Sacred Spells: Collected Works

Event date: 
Saturday, April 6, 2024 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

This event takes place in person at Charis and on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. This event is free, but registration is required for virtual attendance. Click here to register to attend virtually. Please read the in-person event guidelines at the bottom of this page to be sure you can participate in the event.

Join Charis in celebrating the publication of Assotto Saint's Sacred Spells: Collected Works. Featuring readings by Jericho Brown, G. Winston James, Young Hughley, and Michael Ward, and hosted by Franklin Abbott and Duncan Teague. This event is co-sponsored by the Counter Narrative Project, Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, and the Women and Gender Collections at the Georgia State University Archives. 

In this timely collection of poetry, plays, fiction, and performance texts, Assotto Saint draws upon music and incantation, his Haitian heritage, and a politics of liberation to weave together a tapestry of literature that celebrates life in the face of death. Influential to contemporary writers such as Essex Hemphill, Marlon Riggs, and Melvin Dixon, Sacred Spells is Saint’s crucial legacy–five hundred incandescent pages of painful, lyric writing that exemplifies the visceral, spiritual dimensions of an artistic practice that’s integral to Black and LGBTQ activist movements worldwide, both historic and present.

Assotto Saint (born Yves Francois Lubin) was a Haitian-born American writer, performer, publisher and AIDS activist. As Publisher of Galiens Press, Assotto published two volumes of his poetry, Stations and Wishing For Wings. He edited two seminal anthologies of Black Gay writing: 1991 Lambda Literary Award winner The Road Before Us: 100 Gay Black Poets and Here To Dare: 10 Gay Black Poets. He was also the author of such plays as Risin' To The Love We Need, New Love Song, Black Fag and Nuclear Lovers. In 1990, he was awarded both the Fellowship in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the James Baldwin Award from the Black Gay Leadership Forum. Born in Haiti, October 2, 1957, he lived in New York City with Jan Urban Holmgren, his life partner and co-founder of Metamorphosis Theater and the techno-pop band Xotika. Saint died June 29,1994 of AIDS. Assotto Saint's poetry, fiction, essays, song lyrics, and plays are gathered in Sacred Spells: Collected Works (Nightboat Books, 2023).

About the Hosts

Franklin Abbott is a poet, psychotherapist, editor and activist.  He published Assotto Saint in his anthology New Men, New Minds (Crossing Press, 1987) and in two magazines where he served as poetry editor, RFD and Changing Men.  He and Saint became close friends and correspondents giving each other much needed support during the worst years of the AIDS epidemic.  Saint's letters to Abbott are part of his papers in the Women and Gender Collection in the archives of Georgia State University.  He is author of three anthologies of writings about men and masculinity, two volumes of poetry and a recording of original music and poetry, Don't Go Back To Sleep.  

Duncan E. Teague (he, him, his) has been in Atlanta for 35 plus years and has been in some kind of relationship with Charis Books and More since his second year in Atlanta. He has been writing and performing poetry, writing for gay magazines; for HIV/AIDS, and now for Abundant Love Unitarian Universalist Congregation (Abundant LUUv) almost every week. He is the founding minister of this West End Unitarian Universalist congregation.  

Teague’s first poetry in a gay anthology was published by Assotto Saint in The Road Before Us and he is very proud to have gotten to know Assotto personally. He is the surviving senior member of The ADODI Muse; A Gay Negro Ensemble, who have been doing the poetry-on-stage as theatre since longer than he admits. Previous work of The ADODI Muse is available on their CD “Ain’t Got Sense Enuf to be ‘Shamed”.

This poet (now reverend) is proof that you can survive prostate cancer, stay with your gay husband for more than twenty-five years, and start a church, all after you are eligible for AARP newsletters and coupons. 

About the Panelists 

Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019), which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Time, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry anthologies

G. Winston James is a Jamaican-born poet, author, essayist and editor.  He holds a BA from Columbia University, an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College and is the author of the Lambda Literary Award and Ferro-Grumley Award finalist collection Shaming the Devil: Collected Short Stories.  He is the author of The Damaged Good: Poems Around Love and the Lambda Literary Award finalist collection Lyric: Poems Along a Broken Road.  His essays appear in the anthologies For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough and Love, Christopher Street: Reflections of Gay New York.  James is co-editor of the historic anthologies, Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Writing and the Lambda Literary Award finalist publication Spirited: Affirming the Soul and Black Gay/Lesbian Identity.  He is also the author of the introduction to American photographer Thomas Roma’s 2015 monograph In the Vale of Cashmere.

Young Hughley, native of Atlanta, earned his BA degree from Morehouse College. He earned three executive certificates, in nonprofit management, from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government. He is a recipient of 20+ awards, recognitions, citations, and fellowships for his work in affordable housing, community development and nonprofit management. In his encore life he is happy now to spend time writing and exploring the written works of others. In 2018 YTH & Associates published his first book, IMAGES FINALLY FOCUSED. It is a compilation of poetry, essays, and short stories. 

Social equity, inclusion, diversity, and affordable housing are important to him. When not writing he finds time to work with organizations supporting the same.

Michael Ward is an actor, host, writer, and HIV advocate. He has numerous stage, film, and voice credits. His most recent credits include The Family Table (AMC Performance Company) and oneintwo (Out Front Theatre). He and Josh Jenks co-founded BLACK, GAY, stuck at home, a bi-weekly virtual screening series that centers Black queer media. He is a former host of CNP’s The Reckoning Podcast, the show highlights Black men’s health and wellness. His writing appears in Cultural Silence and Wounded Souls: Black Men Speak about Mental Health (Mark Tuggle), Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call (Vintage Entity Press, 2014), Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices... (Flashpoint Publications, 2017), and UPTOWN Magazine.

About the Co-Sponsors

The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival was founded in 2007 and has hosted numerous events that highlight LGBTQ writers living in Atlanta as well as inviting distinguished LGBTQ writers from around the country to come to Atlanta and share their work.  Young Hughley is the festival's executive director.  For more information visit www.atlantaqueerfest.com 

The Counter Narrative Project (CNP) shifts narratives about Black gay, bisexual, queer, and other men who have sex with men to change policy and improve lives.

The Gender and Sexuality Collections at Georgia State University document LGBTQ+ communities in Georgia and the Southeast. They include manuscript collections, audio visual materials, textiles, artifacts, newspapers and magazines, and oral histories. 

The event is free and open to all people, but we encourage and appreciate a donation of $5-20 in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Donate on crowdcast or via our website: www.chariscircle.org/donate or in person the night of the event.

In-person event guidelines: 

  • All attendees must wear a face mask at all times inside the building 

  • We will begin seating people at 7:00 PM ET.

  • This event will be live-streamed via crowdcast. Click here to register to attend virtually.

  • As a reminder: If you are not feeling well, please do not come to the event.

  • If you have any questions regarding these guidelines or to request specific accessibility accommodations, please contact info@charisbooksandmore.com or call the store at 404-524-0304

If you would like to watch the virtual event with computer-generated captions, please watch in Google Chrome and enable captions. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to info@chariscircle.org. We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we continue to connect across distances.

By attending our event you agree to our Code of Conduct: Our event seeks to provide a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), class, or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Sexual language and imagery are not appropriate. Anyone violating these rules will be expelled from this event and all future events at the discretion of the organizers. Please report all harassment to info@chariscircle.org immediately.

Event address: 
A Charis Hybrid (in-person + virtual) Event
184 S. Candler Street
Decatur, GA 30030
Sacred Spells: Collected Works By Assotto Saint, Michele Karlsberg (Editor) Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781643621562
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Nightboat Books - August 29th, 2023

The collected life-work of an interdisciplinary writer, performer, and central figure in the Black Gay cultural arts and AIDS movements.In this timely collection of poetry, plays, fiction, and performance texts, Assotto Saint draws upon music and incantation, his Haitian heritage and a politics of liberation, to weave together a tapestry of literature that celebrates life in the face of dea


Event Summary: 
Join Charis in celebrating the publication of Assotto Saint's Sacred Spells: Collected Works. Featuring readings by Jericho Brown, G. Winston James, Young Hughley, and Michael Ward, and hosted by Franklin Abbott and Duncan Teague.