Haarlem Reborn: A Novel in Verses

Haarlem Reborn is a novel in verses, imagined as a staged performance, a series of portrait paintings, a reel in changing colors, a fashion showcase, a symphony of lights and jazz. A carefully curated set of artistic celebrities, friends, and fictions are invited to a mysterious party in Harlem, where an astrological séance makes contact with the early 20th-century figures of the Harlem Renaissance. The guests and their talents become the ingredients for a powerful ritual that threatens the neighborhood itself, and forces representations of the past and present to merge for the sake of Harlem’s future.

Juxtaposed with contemporary cycles of development and economic change in Harlem, the poems capture the lost sense of conversation and collaboration among disparate art forms. The party soon sheds its benevolent façade as its invocations disrupt the neighborhood, and spirits of the past begin to influence the guests. When the festivities reach the ultimate point of excess, the celestial alignment unravels…

The structure explores a mock 21st-century-epic style, casting fictional depictions of musicians, dramatists, artists, designers, poets, writers, and philosophers, including Zadie Smith, Justin Timberlake, Chimamanda Adichie, Kara Walker, Cornel West, and Dorothea Lasky, alongside historic icons like W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Bessie Smith, and a young James Baldwin.