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Meet Me There: CRUEL/CRUEL by Dior J. Stephens

Event date: 
Thursday, September 14, 2023 - 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. 

"Meet Me There" is a monthly intergenerational poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction experience curated by trans/genderqueer poet and sound artist Samuel Ace. Each month Samuel pairs an established or mid-career artist with an up and coming writer for a reading by each artist and a discussion of the resonances between their works. Writers exploring genre and gender boundaries will be a special focus of this series. This event takes place on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30pm ET. Some months our readings will take place at Charis Books with an option to watch virtually, and some months the event will be fully virtual, so be sure to check the listing!

Featured Poet

September's featured poet is Dior J. Stephens in celebration of CRUEL/CRUEL, a response to the unimaginable cruelties that became our new quotidian in 2020, that moves musically and discursively through innovative permutations of lyric form. CRUEL/CRUEL is the manifestation of a Black, queer voice grappling with the intricacies of (un)belonging and identity. These poems use genres of queerness and race to reckon with the pervasive power of oppressive institutions, shaped by art and a soundtrack of Black musical traditions of resistance: from jazz to soul to experimental to hip hop. A hybrid visual and literary object, CRUEL/CRUEL feels relentlessly present, and yet emphasizes the archival and documentary as intrinsic to our personal and collective survivals.

Dior J. Stephens is a proud pisces hailing from Midwestern waters. He is the author of the chapbooks SCREAMS & lavender, 001, and CANNON!. Their debut full-length collection, CRUEL/CRUEL is out now with Nightboat Books. You can find their work in Somesuch Stories, fourteen poems, Peach Mag, and more. They happily serve as the Managing Poetry Editor of Foglifter Journal and Press. 

Opening Poet

W.J. Lofton is a Black Queer Southern poet and multimodal artist. He is the author of A Garden for Black Boys Between the Stages of Soil and Stardust. His work has appeared widely, including TIME, wildnessScalawag Magazine, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, and No Justice, No Peace: From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter. His  memoir, Sue City, is forthcoming from Beacon Press. He holds writing and art fellowships from Cave Canem and Emory University. Lofton’s constant concern is freedom and the ways in which we access it, particularly through pain, love, grief, and pleasure. Atlanta, GA is his home, where he prioritizes community building, frolicking, and joy.

Host Poet

Samuel Ace is a trans/genderqueer poet and sound artist. His most recent books are Our Weather Our Sea (Black Radish), Meet MeThere: Normal Sex & Home in three days. Don’t wash. (Belladonna* Germinal Texts), and the chapbook What started / this mess (above/ground press). Ace is the recipient of the Astraea Lesbian Writer Award and the Firecracker Alternative Book Award in Poetry, as well as a repeat finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the National Poetry Series. Recent work can be found in ex-PuritanPOETRY, We Want it All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetry, PEN America, Best American Experimental Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. A book-length poetic essay, I Want to Start by Saying, is forthcoming from the Cleveland State University Poetry Center (2024).

This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices.

In-person event guidelines: 

  • All attendees must wear a face mask during the event.

  • We will begin seating people at 7:00 PM ET and start promptly at 7:30 PM.

  • 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 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 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 immediately.

Event address: 
A Charis Hybrid (in person + virtual) Event
184 S. Candler Street
Decatur, GA 30030
Cruel/Cruel By Dior J. Stephens Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643621586
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Nightboat Books - March 14th, 2023

A response to the unimaginable cruelties that became our new quotidian in 2020, that moves musically and discursively through innovative permutations of lyric form.CRUEL/CRUEL is the manifestation of a Black, queer voice grappling with the intricacies of (un)belonging and identity.

Meet Me There: Normal Sex & Home in Three Days. Don't Wash. By Samuel Ace Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780998843926
Published: Belladonna Series - May 1st, 2019

Poetry. LGBTQIA Studies. MEET ME THERE is a paired republication of Normal Sex (Firebrand Books, 1994) and Home in three days. Don't wash. (Hard Press, 1996). In the present edition, the texts are accompanied by a new introduction and poem by Samuel Ace, and by a collection of short essays and reflections on Ace and Smukler's poetics.

Event Summary: 
"Meet Me There" is a monthly intergenerational poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction experience curated by trans/genderqueer poet and sound artist Samuel Ace.