Requiem for the Innocent: El Paso and Beyond
A provocative and somber tribute to those who lost their lives and were injured in the mass shooting in El Paso.
On Saturday morning, August 3, 2019, a twenty-one-year-old self-declared white supremacist from Allen, Texas, targeted “Mexicans” in a hate crime and shot and killed twenty-three people at the Cielo Vista Walmart (Supercenter #512) in El Paso. Among the dead were fourteen Americans, eight Mexicans from nearby Ciudad Juarez, and one German. Another twenty-six were injured. It was the seventh-deadliest mass shooting in the United States since 1949 and the deadliest attack on Hispanic and Latina/o Americans in U.S. history.
This book and the traveling exhibition and performances that accompany it are meant to honor the memory of the twenty-three souls who lost their lives and to be mindful of the twenty-six others who were injured in El Paso. The book, exhibition, and performances also honor and remind us of the countless others who have suffered—and continue to suffer—from hate and violence in any form.
Requiem for the Innocent: El Paso and Beyond is a collaboration between photographer John Willis, poet Robin Behn, and composer Matan Rubinstein. The work of choreographer Shannon Hummel will also be featured in the traveling exhibition.
Freedom and Fire! A Civil War Story
Freedom and Fire! A Civil War Story, a new opera with libretto by Robin Behn, score by Amir Zaheri, and direction by Paul Houghtaling, premiered at The University of Alabama Opera Theatre and won a national award. The opera tells the story of the last few days of the Civil War as Union troops burn down a southern campus, from the multiple points of view of student cadets, professors, commanders and young soldiers on both sides, enslaved servants, and townspeople. The score is available for distribution.
Music and Poetry: Fiddle Tune Poems and Quarry CrossAn Interview with Robin Behn by Chard deNiord
As a feature in Plume Poetry, Chard deNiord interviews Robin Behn about her fiddle tune poems and the composition of Quarry Cross.
"In writing these Fiddle Tune Poems, I was influenced by each tune’s sound—its rhythms, major or minor key, its melody and phrasing—that creates an underlying mood, and also by the images or narratives suggested by the names of the tunes. The poems take their titles from the tunes that inspired them. They stand on their own as written poems, but for performance, I’ve arranged them back inside their tunes to be played by a single melody instrument or, as is the case here in Plume, by a traditional band."
"Naked Writing" Installation
A collaboration between artist Mirjana Ugrinov and poet Robin Behn at ARC Gallery, Chicago.
Resembling huge pages of a book unfurling in air, the lines of Behn’s poetry are superimposed upon Ugrinov’s sculpted, translucent sheets to tell a complex, erotic storyline in several voices. A chapbook, Naked Writing, containing the poems used in the installation, was published on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition by M.C. Hyland's DoubleCross Press.
The Poetic Dialogue
Robin Behn and painter Mirjana Ugrinov worked together during several "Poetic Dialogue" exhibitions at ARC Gallery in Chicago.
After you have swum to the inland island
after you have toweled off with the giant leaf
and rolled in the black resin garment
and scaled the hill like a forgotten saint
and gained the pointed dwelling
after the bellrope brushes your face
one knot for every hesitation of your life
that ends that will end in a burnished bell
once you step back into the footprints
once your arms make a roof above your thoughts
once you are dangling from the rusted crucible
of every furious dissemblance you hath done
and the lake gathers round and glistens with the sound
that carries that turns that licks
the barren and forfeits all clamber and slays
the surfeit of the sun and winds time
to a tether and hooks it on your heart
what then, what then, will you have done?
And how and what should you presume? Exhume?
The coin hewn in half? And if you picked it up,
and began right there on the earthen floor
to scratch out your chance, your yin of a green
and, deeper, your gold, interminable dream?
And tyranny of riches kept
that flattens your thought to a mold?
Now bring on the keepers and the truck.
The packages, the alms.
Cough up your little night
and render your drop
now all the snug particulars are gone.
Robin Behn collaborated with painter Melissa Herrington of Venice CA on three book covers.
The Yellow House project includes additional paintings by Melissa Herrington, that are paired with individual poems from the book: