Sunday, June 11, 2023 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM EDT
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Jay Heritage Center
210 Boston Post Road
Rye, NY 10580

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Meredith Slater, Office Manager and Assistant Program Director
Jay Heritage Center
(914) 698-9275

Boneyarn with David Mills

On Sunday, June 11, at 4 p.m., poet David Mills will discuss his most-recent collection, “Boneyarn.” Co-sponsored by the Friends of the African American Cemetery (FOAAC), Rye, New York

Following an update on the African American Cemetery by Dave Thomas, “Mills will read from and reflect upon the research behind ‘Boneyarn,’ the first-ever book of poems about slavery in New York City. The city holds the oldest and largest slave cemetery in the United States—the Negro Burial Ground—which was open from 1712 to 1795 and is located in Wall Street’s shadows. Fifteen thousand enslaved and free Blacks, some Native Americans, and poor whites are buried there.

Mills creatively ‘excavates’ the tragedies and triumphs of New York’s enslaved and free Black community. He writes about those who toiled as cooks, childhood chimney sweeps, sailed the Atlantic, fought in the Revolutionary War, maintained African traditions when burying the dead, built the ‘wall’ where Wall Street gets its name, and regrettably were dehumanized in life and sometimes desecrated in death. The collection also includes a suite of poems dedicated to Jupiter Hammon; born into slavery in New York, Hammon was the first Black poet published in North America.”

The talk is FREE but registration is requested. Book-signing and refreshments following in the Jay Estate Gardens.

David Mills (official bio): Mills has published four collections: Boneyarn: New York slavery poems (winner of the North American Book Award), After Mistic (Massachusetts slavery poems), The Sudden Country and The Dream Detective. His poems have appeared in PloughsharesColorado ReviewFenceCrab Orchard ReviewJubilatCallalooBrooklyn Rail, and Obsidian.

He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Breadloaf, the American Antiquarian Society, the Queens Council on the Arts, and Flushing Town Hall. He lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years. He wrote the audio script for Macarthur Genius Award-winner Deborah Willis’s curated exhibition Reflections in Black: 100 Years of Black Photography, which showed at the Whitney and West Museums. The Juilliard School of Drama commissioned and produced a play by Mr. Mills. He has also recorded his poetry on ESPN and RCA Records.

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The Jay Heritage Center (JHC) is an educational nonprofit and the steward of the Jay Estate in Rye, New York, a 23-acre National Historic Landmark site and public park. JHC hosts programs in American history, social justice, environmental stewardship, architecture, and preservation. It is one of 16 sites on Westchester County's African American Heritage Trail. Learn more at www.jayheritagecenter.org or email jayheritagecenter@gmail.com for more information.