July 27, 2022
Byron Schenkman and Friends’ Pride Month event, “A Double Portrait: Johannes Brahms & Jonathan Woody”, premiered on June 26. This concert, an intimate, Pride-friendly celebration of Brahms’ music, features two of Jonathan Woody’s works, including the world premiere of ‘nor shape of today’ for voice, viola, and piano set to text by poet Raquel Salas Rivera from his Ambroggio Prize-winner x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación.
Written in the early days of the rise of world-wide fascism and the poet’s gender transition, x/ex/exis: poemas para la nación/poems for the nation accepts the invitation to push poetic and gender imaginaries beyond the bounds set by nation.
From teen dysphoria, to the incarceration of anticolonial activists Oscar López and Nina Droz Franco, to the entanglement of church and state, these poems acknowledge the violence of imposed binaries. For Salas Rivera, the x marks Puerto Rican transness in a world that seeks trans death, denial, and erasure. Instead of justifying his existence, he takes up the flag of illegibility and writes an apocalyptic book that screams into an uncertain future, armed with nothing to lose.
For more on the celebration:
Here is the concert: