This week I was interviewed by the iconic Lois Reitzes of Atlanta's NPR station about my editing and curatorial work. You can listen to the full interview here (our conversation begins at the 8:32 mark) or read an excerpt of the conversation below.
Lois Reitzes: Why do you think the platform resonates with its audience? You also have a decent readership. Does that go back to the emotion that you think was lacking?
Elle Aviv Newton: There’s this almost cataclysmic feeling, especially if you’re in a particular political position in this country right now, that there is this bait of feeling hopeless. If you want to, the option is there for you. Poets Reading the News is a place where creativity comes alive to begin to express hope, and resilience, and endurance in an era that feels very uncertain and where people are feeling like they don’t have as much control over whats happening on a national scale as they would like to. For that reason, arts becomes so integral to feeling any sense of safety, any sense of connectivity, and really reaching into a sense of community right now. Those principles are just so important to what’s going on. Poets Reading the News really resonates for people because it provides all of those things.
Here's a link to the poem by Clare Welsh, "Parts Unknown", read at the end.
I am included in the new Censored 2019 book edited by Dr. Mickey Huff and Dr. Andy Lee Roth and published by Seven Stories Press. The essay is coauthored with J. Spagnolo, my coeditor at Poets Reading the News. You can order a copy here for September shipment.
Censored 2019 once again presents the News that Didn’t Make the News (and why) in our annual listing of the Top 25 underreported stories, as well as documenting the corporate media’s most egregious Junk Food News distractions and News Abuse propaganda, while celebrating independent news organizations and activists, such as Act Out!, Poets Reading the News, and UnKoch My Campus, that truly exemplify Media Democracy in Action.
Beyond these annual features, Censored 2019 includes in-depth chapters on media coverage of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements; how data activists from communities around the world are redirecting the power of “Big Data” to organize for social, economic, and political justice; and why it’s important to call Big Media by its proper name—corporate media is no longer “mainstream” in any meaningful sense of that term. Our newest book, published by Seven Stories Press, concludes with an examination of ongoing democratic initiatives and promising approaches to address the “controversial, geopolitical social problem” of fake news.
With keen cartoons by Khalil Bendib, an eye-popping cover by artist Anson Stevens-Bollen that pays homage to the 80th anniversary of the infamous “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast and its contemporary relevance, plus a no-holds-barred foreword by journalist Abby Martin, Censored 2019 is a rallying cry to arm ourselves with the power of knowledge as we join together to fight the fake news invasion.
"Afterward" is a poem I wrote about the housing crisis in Oakland in the aftermath of the Ghostship fire. First published on Poets Reading the News, it has now been adapted for the stage in the original documentary-play "Red-Tagged" directed by Victor Talmadge and featuring the passionate actors from the Mills Theatre Department. The play debuts April 27th in Oakland, California.
Inprint, the premier literary center of Houston, presents Poets Reading the News for an evening workshop. Join founders and editors Elle Aviv Newton and J. Spagnolo as they share strategies that welcome writers into the act of documenting and witnessing rapidly-shifting political and cultural landscapes through the art of poetry.
I had the pleasure of talking to the two Joes behind the No Good Poetry podcast on my recent visit to New Orleans. We chatted about some of my favorite things: the intersection between journalism and poetry, the panels I spoke on at the New Orleans Poetry Fest, the current state of mainstream media, and how to bring new voices into the news cycle.
I will be participating in panel discussions and readings at the New Orleans Poetry Festival 2018. I will moderate "Journalism in Verse", a panel talk featuring Abigail Carl-Klassen, J. Todd Hawkins and Jenna Spagnolo. I will also be participating in the "Collabs, Communities + Collectives" panel hosted by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright.
"When the Las Vegas shooting happened a couple of weeks ago, U.S. media was awash with all sorts of headlines exploring everything from who the shooter was to profiles of victims to pleas for tighter gun control. The stories took the form of traditional news shorts, narrative features, think pieces, first person essays, infographics, videos, and more. All of which, said Elle Aviv Newton, co-founder ofPoets Reading the News, traditionally fall short.
“There are now a thousand ways to read the news, and yet so few ways to reckon with it,” said Newton. “The repetitions, surprises, scale, complexity—processing all of this needs to happen somewhere.”
A Bay Area-based digital publication where, you guessed it, poets interpret current events, Poets Reading the News offers another way to engage what’s going on around us. In response to the Las Vegas shooting, for example, Catherine Strayhall’s “Not The Time” interrogates the refrain often heard from politicians regarding gun legislation..."
"Elle Aviv Newton felt crushed by this past November’s election results. She withdrew from political conversations. She avoided the news, which suddenly seemed to lack credibility. And then the 28-year-old curator and Oakland native rebounded. “I got interested in artwork that reflected a really deep engagement with the news, that showed the artists really struggling through the surface,” she told the Express. “I wanted to build a lighthouse in our ocean of screens.”
The artworks in Believe the Hype, which Newton solicited and selected from an open call for submissions, explore our so-called “post-truth” era of filter bubbles, hyper-partisan shills, and political polarity — all closely bound, the show suggests, to a great crisis in the media.
The show features a dozen artists, about half of them local, working in various mediums to complicate or elucidate how we generate and distribute information. That means analysis of the political spectrum that composes the “alt-right” online (Caroline Sinders’ “Things Are Rarely Binary”), speculative social-media headlines printed on fabrics (Lucia Goodbag’s “Alternative Facts”), and an automated Twitter account (Ben Lerchin’s “#fakenewsbot”). Believe the Hype exposes the bitter ideological battles behind even seemingly neutral reportage in the digital age..."
DeadNite Magazine features me in their July cover story, in a write-up on my recent projects about art and the news media: Poets Reading the News and my latest exhibition Believe the Hype. In the photograph I am standing amidst two landmark political works by Design is Play, the revolutionary atelier of California College of the Arts professors and designers Angie Wang and Marc Fox.