Poet David Mills on “Boneyarn”

Commemorate Juneteenth with poet and historian David Mills. On Sunday, June 11 at 4pm, Mills “will read from and reflect upon the research behind ‘Boneyarn,’ the first-ever book of poems about slavery in New York City. His work amplifies the human narratives underlying Manhattan’s African Burial Ground, the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. Today the site he has memorialized in verse has been designated a National Monument. “Fifteen thousand enslaved and free Blacks, some Native Americans, and poor whites are buried there. Mills creatively ‘excavates’ the tragedies and triumphs of New York’s enslaved and free Black community. He writes about those who toiled as cooks, childhood chimney sweeps, sailed the Atlantic, fought in the Revolutionary War, maintained African traditions when burying the dead, built the ‘wall’ where Wall Street gets its name and regrettably were dehumanized in life and sometimes desecrated in death. The collection also includes a suite of poems dedicated to Jupiter Hammon; born into slavery in New York, Hammon was the first Black poet published in North America.”

Co-sponsored by the Friends of the African American Cemetery (FOAAC), Rye, New York. A book-signing and reception will follow the readings. Program is FREE but registration is requested. REGISTER HERE


David Mills (official bio): Mills has published four collections: Boneyarn: New York slavery poems (winner of the North American Book Award), After Mistic (Massachusetts slavery poems), The Sudden Country and The Dream Detective. His poems have appeared in PloughsharesColorado ReviewFenceCrab Orchard ReviewJubilatCallalooBrooklyn Rail, and Obsidian. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Breadloaf, the American Antiquarian Society, the Queens Council on the Arts, and Flushing Town Hall. He lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years. He wrote the audio script for Macarthur Genius Award-winner Deborah Willis’s curated exhibition Reflections in Black: 100 Years of Black Photography, which showed at the Whitney and West Museums. The Juilliard School of Drama commissioned and produced a play by Mr. Mills. He has also recorded his poetry on ESPN and RCA Records.