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30 August 2023
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
All ages welcome
Please join us to celebrate the launch of For the Unnamed by Fred D’Aguiar. Hosting the reading will be poet and editor André Naffis-Sahely. The event will feature readings and discussion, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. We will show the text during readings so that you can read along.
For the Unnamed was originally entitled ‘For the Unnamed Black Jockey Who Rode the Winning Steed in the Race Between Pico’s Sarco and Sepulveda’s Black Swan in Los Angeles, in 1852′. That title provided the full narrative in a nutshell: we know the names of the owners of the two horses, we know the horses’ names, the place and date of the race. But apart from his colour, and his victory, we know nothing about the jockey who made the whole thing happen.
Fred D’Aguiar’s new book recovers and re-imagines his story. It was the most publicised race of its era with numerous press notices but he remained unnamed. We are given several perspectives on the action – owner’s, trainer’s, the horse Black Swan’s, the jockey’s lover, the jockey himself. But one crucial element of identity is forgotten, and that forgetfulness speaks eloquently about the time and the freed man’s circumstances in the mid-nineteenth century.
Fred D’Aguiar’s previous collection, Letters to America (2020), was a Poetry Book Society Winter Choice and a White Review Book of the Year.
Registration for this online event will cost £2, redeemable against the cost of the book.
About the speakers:
Fred D’Aguiar was born in London of Guyanese parents, and grew up in Guyana before returning to London for his secondary and tertiary education. He has lived in the US since the mid-90s and currently he is Professor of English at UCLA. He trained as a psychiatric nurse before reading African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury. He was Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Cambridge University and has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. For the Unnamed (2023) is Fred D’Aguiar’s fifth collection with Carcanet. His previous poetry book, Letters to America was a Poetry Book Society Winter Choice in 2020. Carcanet also published his nonfiction, Year of Plagues (2021).
André Naffis-Sahely is the author of two collections of poetry, The Promised Land: Poems from Itinerant Life (Penguin UK, 2017) and High Desert (Bloodaxe Books, 2022), as well as the editor of The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature (Pushkin Press, 2020). He also co-edited Mick Imlah: Selected Prose (Peter Lang, 2015) and The Palm Beach Effect: Reflections on Michael Hofmann (CB Editions, 2013). He has translated over twenty titles of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, including works by Honoré de Balzac, Émile Zola, Abdellatif Laâbi, Ribka Sibhatu and Tahar Ben Jelloun. His writing appears regularly in the pages of the Times Literary Supplement, The Baffler and Poetry (Chicago), among others. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis and the editor of Poetry London.
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