Book Launch: Paul Hlava Ceballos & Quenton Baker

Join Paul Hlava Ceballos & Quenton Baker for a reading and celebration of their book Banana [ ] / we pilot the blood at Elliott Bay Book Company on Tuesday, November 2nd. Visit Elliott Bay’s website for more details on the event.

This book is a thing of beauty and grief. Two accounts of empire by two different poets, between them a critical/contemplative interval conducted by writer and scholar Christina Sharpe in conversation with artist Torkwase Dyson’s “hypershapes.”

Assembled from the Senate document detailing the 1841 slave revolt aboard the brig Creole, Quenton Baker’s “we pilot the blood”considers the position of blackness and the ongoing afterlife of slavery.

Paul Hlava Ceballos’s “Banana [         ]” collages declassified CIA documents, corporate reports, horticultural papers and personal accounts into a bloody portrait of multinational exploitation.

Praise for Banana [          ] / we pilot the blood

Official histories erase, deceive. In this collaborative work, Paul Hlava Ceballos and Quenton Baker refuse and remix the narratives in official documents to make visible oppression, rebellion. These new narratives reshape the past, charge the future. Here is poetry not rooted in the mythologies of nation-states, here is poetry that casts new light. – Eduardo C. Corral

What can language do, in the festering fuckery of empire? This book, which features both Quenton Baker’s “we pilot the blood” and Paul Hlava Ceballos’s “Banana [         ],” demands that we look directly into the violent and voracious maw of empire. From tracing the history of bananas in the Americas (“Banana [      ]”) to the erasure of the senate document of the revolt aboard the slave ship Creole (“we pilot the blood”), Hlava Ceballos and Baker speak to silenced histories with resounding resistance across source texts, redactions, erasures, and lifted language. In this excavation, this reckoning, what has been kept hidden from us? – Jane Wong, author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything

Banana [         ] / we pilot the blood is an urgent collection that exhumes bodies buried in the archive. While naming historical violence, the book also offers new shapes, forms, and utterances. What a brilliant and necessary intervention. – Cathy Linh Che, author of Split

About the Authors

Paul Hlava Ceballos is the recipient of the 2021 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry as well as fellowships from CantoMundo, Artist Trust, and the Poets House. His full-length monograph, Banana [          ], is forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press in 2022, and his work has been published in the Best New Poets Anthology and translated into the Ukrainian. It can be found in Narrative MagazineBOMB, the PEN Poetry SeriesAcentos ReviewThe LA Times, among other journals and newspapers, and has been nominated for the Pushcart. Born and raised in Southern California, he has an MFA from NYU, and currently lives in Seattle, where he practices echocardiography.

Quenton Baker is a poet, educator, and Cave Canem fellow. His current focus is black interiority and the afterlife of slavery. His work has appeared in The OffingJubilatVinylThe Rumpus and elsewhere. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Southern Maine and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He is the recipient of the 2018 Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust, was a 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence, and is a 2021 NEA Fellow. He is author of the forthcoming collection Ballast (Three Count Pour, 2022) and This Glittering Republic (Willow Books, 2016).

Christina Sharpe is a writer, Professor, and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University. She is the author of: In the Wake: On Blackness and Being and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects. Her third book, Ordinary Notes, will be published in 2022 (Knopf/FSG/Daunt). She is working on a monograph called Black. Still. Life. She has recently published essays in Alison Saar Of Aether and EartheGrief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, and Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing.

Torkwase Dyson art practice draws on her interest in abstraction, social architecture and environmental justice. In her “hypershapes” series, from which images are drawn for this book, she theorizes formal concepts of “black compositional thought.” Dyson’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions at the Drawing Center in New York City, the Landmark Gallery in Lubbock, TX, Eyebeam in Brooklyn, the Meat Market Gallery in DC, and has also been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Martos Gallery, Postmasters Gallery, We Buy Gold in Brooklyn and elsewhere. Dyson is on the board of the Architectural League of New York and is a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Art. She is represented by Davidson Contemporary, New York, and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.


Nov 02 2021


7:00 pm


Elliott Bay Book Company
Seattle, WA