New Essay: "The Art of Yearning"

Today my essay, "The Art of Yearning," was published on UK-based Platypus Press's Wildness Literary Journal. It's a narrative essay in six parts. It pertains to how yearning manifests from an over-proliferation of contemporary signs. It's about Chicago, yearning, and what consumes us. Head over to Wildness to read it. 

 

"Stop the Violence (diptych)" (2015)

Women's March Chicago [Photos]

Today I went to the streets of downtown Chicago to walk in the Women's March. It was sunny, unseasonably warm. A great day for a protest, apparently, because turnout was massive. NBC Chicago estimated the total present to be near 250,000, making it one of the largest of the Women's March gatherings today in America.

Of course, I brought my camera with me. Below are the photos I took. Feel free to link to these photos with credit to RJ Eldridge. 

Welcome Back, Binkey (Photos)

About a year ago, our friend and local Chicago legend Lawrence "Binkey" Tolefree went on what was supposed to be a three-month-long artist trip to Thailand. What he found kept him there longer than any of us expected. He built a following in Chiang Mai, and helped to found Blackpackers, an organization devoted to building connections between black world travelers. This past week, he finally came back to Chicago to pay us a visit. I took a few photos from the small gathering he held at the Silver Room in Hyde Park. 

 

This Could Be the First Trumpet (Might As Well Be the Last) - With Sam Trump

Yesterday I got a chance to do a brief shoot with the incomparable musician and singer Sam Trump. I've known Sam for a few years, as we've crossed paths at the Gala and in other Chicago performance-based spaces. This was my first chance to shoot him. As with many of my recent shoots, I've been making work in response to the work of Jeffery Renard Allen, whose descriptions of urban sunlight have stuck with me since the first time I read them. 

Below find a sampling of my shoot with Sam. Feel free to share!

 

God Is With Us + (2016)

 

CHICAGO |

Today I spent some time in Hyde Park with multidisciplinary artist Plus Sign. We spoke about the act of naming, and about the richness of cultural spaces. He was an easy subject, and as we built on concepts relating to the black mind, we found many spaces of light and shadow to make reflection. Enjoy the work and feel free to share. 

RJ Eldridge

 

DJ Manti Presents: The Stage

CHICAGO | February 23, 2016 -- On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, I'll be featuring at DJ Manti Presents: The Stage at Refuge Chicago. Here are the details:

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The Stage is a weekly open mic hosted by Ace da Vinci & Bella Bahhs every Wednesday at Refuge Live located on 416 S. Clark St. Chicago, IL. Black History Month @ The Stage Has Been Amazing! We've Had The Best Talent In Chicago And This Week Will Be No Different. The Features Are Jamie Sherman & Reginald Eldridge Jr.. Ace da Vinci Will Be Back This Week Along Side Of Bella Bahhs So Make Sure Y'all Come Check It Us Out This Wednesday!

For more info, visit the Facebook event page here.

Lyrical Sublime Vol. III at the Silver Room

CHICAGO | January 25, 2016 -- This Thursday, January 28, at 7:00PM, Vol III of the Lyrical Sublime will take place at The Silver Room in Hyde Park. Lyrical Sublime is a ritual and ceremonial performance and conversation that extends meditations on citizenship, spiritual change, and the vicissitudes of identity in the midst of our yet-ambiguous moment.

I started The Lyrical Sublime because I wanted to begin to cultivate a ceremony for young people who need or desire a space of truth-telling that affirms the spiritual realities of our time. Frankly: a lot of people are hurting and the internet isn't a good enough place for us to share with one another the means by which we as human beings have evolved to heal each other and ourselves. We need more face to face time, more spells for flourishing, more belief in the magnitude of our dreams.

I wanted to help cultivate a place where people might feel better through shared expression, radical truth-telling and vulnerability. Each incarnation of the performance is different, and informed by the spaces in which the performance takes place, as well as by the performances before it, and by the people in the room.

I did the first performance in a far-flung corner of the city on a very cold night, to a rapt but tiny audience.

Volume II featured the guest appearance of the incomparable Akenya. Her vocal compositions, masterful and rich, fed us well.

Volume III will be the first incarnation of the performance on the south side of the city, where I reside. I invite anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood to come out. Guest performers will include Christian JaLon, Frankiem Mitchell, and others.

Eric Williams of The Silver Room is donating the space to us, and so there will be no charge at the door. Just bring yourself, and perhaps your own spell for flourishing.

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-R

New Essay in The Offing

CHICAGO | October 20, 2015 --

Hello, readers. Today my essay, "Even Ressurection, Even Insurrection" went live on The Offing. Click on the link to check out the piece. It's another in a series of essays I've been working on in the past year, each of which engage aspects of the strangenesses of millennial identity, from racial politics to ontological anguish, from the poetics of the sign to contemporary black art vis-a-vis pop culture, in order to explore connections that might yield insights about our circumstances. To read the essay, click below:

A Pin Drops Like a Pungent Odor...

Photos from "Wild Hundreds" Book Release [Update]

CHICAGO | September 29, 2015 A couple of nights ago I attended the release show for Nate Marshall's debut full collection of poems, Wild Hundreds. Held at The Currency Exchange Cafe in Washington Park, it was one of the clearest demonstrations yet that Chicago millennials are and will continue to be the lifeblood of this renaissance moment in creative work.

Family, friends and fans filled the stylish space Theater Gates opened in June of last year. Attendees came from as far away as Memphis to see the native son's inauguration, the poems for which his collection won the 2014 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize.

Britteney Kapri hosted gleefully the whole night, the one exception to this glee being to urge some very excited  audience members in the back to quiet down. After some spinning by DJ Itch 13, Noname Gypsy and Safia Elhillo each did a set, both splendid and fitting for their respective excellence.

Nate took the stage and gave a very strong reading. The poems in performance landed well, and the energy stayed high throughout the reading. One surprising highlight: a few poems in, after mentioning that his inspirations were his mother and Lucille Clifton, he called his mother up to read Clifton's famous "won't you celebrate with me." She did, and she took us all in with her.

Overall, it was a great night. Enjoy the photos.

R