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Poet Sholeh Wolpé Gets Inspiration From Basquiat’s Gold Griot

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Southland Sessions Presents: From high school operas and drive-thru art exhibitions to Chicano comedies and underground DJ sets—we are showcasing the vibrancy of arts and culture across our city today.

The Broad may be temporarily closed but they are still committed to inspiring and fostering an appreciation of contemporary art with The Broad From Home.
Interplay: Poetry and Art, features poets working in a variety of styles to respond to specific artworks in the Broad collection to demonstrate the bond between visual art and literature.

Title: Sholeh Wolpé on Basqiat's Gold Griot (1984)
Presented by: The Broad
Originally Performed: June 14, 2020
Written and Recited by: Sholeh Wolpé

About The Broad
The Broad is a contemporary art museum founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, the museum offers free general admission and presents an active program of rotating temporary exhibitions and innovative audience engagement. The Broad is home to more than 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is one of the world's most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art.

About the Series
Interplay: Poetry and Art, features poets working in a variety of styles to respond to specific artworks in the Broad collection to demonstrate the bond between visual art and literature. Some of the writings are new ekphrastic poems, and others are previously written works, chosen by the poet to pair with an artwork. As the textures, surfaces, palettes, and subject matter of the visual work intertwine with the poetry, the connections between these distinctly different mediums emerge, revealing how one complements the other.

About the Poet
Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet, writer, and playwright. A UCLA’s inaugural Writer-in-Residence in 2018, she is presently the current Writer-in-Residence at UC Irvine. Wolpé is the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award, and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, as well as artist fellowships and residencies in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Australia, and Switzerland. Her most recent books include Keeping Time With Blue Hyacinth (Univ. of Arkansas Press) and The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton). Wolpé’s literary work number over twelve collections of poetry, books of translations, and anthologies, as well as several plays. She has performed her literary work with world-renowned musicians nationally and internationally.

"Yellow to Blue"


I offer every ghost 
who comes to my bed 
a cigarette,

catalogue every untruth
I’ve told,
postpone everything

hire mourners in case
I jump, water
the wilted flowers on my
bedroom walls.

There is no calm
in patience,
no restlessness
in motion.

You can’t assign yellow
to blue,
and adjectives are sick
of being married
to nouns.

I want to go Da-Da-Da,
say NO
laced with yes,
paint horizons
over horizons,

because I know
a river never stops
stroking itself
towards the sea,

and cigarettes don’t
kill what’s already

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