The New Social Environment#251

Radical Poetry Reading with Ben Keating

Featuring political poetry read by Helixx C. Armageddon, Sparrow, Max Blagg, Billy Martin, David Mills, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, Ilka Scobie, and Phong H. Bui.


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Ben Keating curates the 28th Radical Poetry Reading featuring political poetry read by Helixx C. Armageddon, Sparrow, Max Blagg, Billy Martin, David Mills, Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, Ilka Scobie, and Phong H. Bui.

In this talk

Helixx C. Armageddon

Photo of Helixx C. Armageddon by Anna Bernabe
Photo by Anna Bernabe
A storyteller intrigued with the human condition. She is a performance artist that weaves together poetry, music and fashion to shift her audiences from observers to participants. Known for impassioned performances, Helixx channels a space for community, connection and dialogue. For her, words are powerful and create more than narrative; words create action and momentum towards a more just world.


Member of the New York-based literary group The Unbearables, Sparrow has published several poetry collections with Soft Skull Press, as well as chapbooks in collaboration with St. Mark’s Poetry Project, and has served as the editor for the literary journal Big Fish. He has been published in The New Yorker (after picketing their offices in 1996 while holding a sign reading, “My Poetry is as bad as yours”), The Quarterly, and the New York Times. He was featured in the PBS series The United States of Poetry, and his music (with the band Foamola) is featured on the poetry compilation Poemfone: New Word Order. Sparrow lives with his wife and daughter in the hamlet of Phoenicia, New York, in the Catskill Mountains.

Max Blagg

Photo of Max Blagg by Sebastian Kim
Photo of Max Blagg by Sebastian Kim
English born, has lived in NYC since 1971. He has appeared at innumerable venues in and out of NYC, including the Kitchen, Guggenheim Museum, Parrish Museum, Jackie 60, St Marks Church, The National Arts Club, Bowery Poetry Club, CBGB, and many other choice locations. Since 1979 he has published five volumes of poetry and prose, and his writing has appeared frequently in various magazines, including Bomb, Interview, Aperture, Village Voice, among others. Blagg was co-founder and co-editor with Glenn O’Brien, of the short-lived but groundbreaking magazine of art and literature, BALD EGO.

Billy Martin

Billy Martin
Born in NYC in 1963 to a Radio City Rockette and a concert violinist. From the roots of the downtown scene he emerged with Medeski Martin and Wood, bridging the harmonic complexity of jazz, the conversational fluency of free improvisation, and the groove and swagger of classic R&B and funk. Martin is also an accomplished filmmaker and visual artist, whose work has been exhibited in solo and group installations around the world including 2014’s Cartegena de indias Bienal in Colombia and the Drawing Sound series at The Drawing Center in NYC (2015). Billy is currently Executive Artistic Director and CEO of the legendary Creative Music Studio. He also owns and manages his own record label Amulet Records.

David Mills

A headshot of poet David Mills
Luigi Cazzaniga
The author of The Sudden Country, The Dream Detective and the chapbook After Mistic. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Breadloaf and Arts Link. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Brooklyn Rail, Jubilat and Hanging Loose Press to name a few. He lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home for three years. The Juilliard School of Drama commissioned and produced Mr. Mills’ play The Serpent and the Dove. He has also recorded his poetry on ESPN and RCA Records.

Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

Photo of Jeffrey Cyphers Wright by Lori Ortiz
Photo by Lori Ortiz
An artist, critic, eco-activist, impresario, and publisher. He received his MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College where he studied with Allen Ginsberg and also taught. He served on the Poetry Project Board of Directors at St. Mark’s Church and also taught there. From 1987 to 2000 he ran Cover Magazine, the Underground National. Currently, Wright produces literary events in NYC at La Mama ETC, Howl! Happening, and KGB Lit Bar in conjunction with his annual art and poetry journal, LiVE MAG!

Ilka Scobie

Ilka Scobie
Native New Yorker Ilka Scobie is a poet who teaches in the public school system. She writes about art for London Artlyst and recently co-curated a group show ART AM 3 in Soncino, Italy. Featured artists included Tano Festa, Mario Schifano, Ugo Rondinone, John Giorno, Rita Barros and Elisabeth Kley along with forty other contemporary Italian and American artists. Her recent poems have appeared in Urban Grafitti, Vanitas, and Poetry in Performance. She is also a deputy editor of LiveMag, a New York based literary magazine.

Phong H. Bui

Photo of Phong Bui taken by Nicola Delorme
Photo by Nicola Delorme
Artist, writer, and independent curator Phong H. Bui is Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail, the River Rail, Rail Editions, and Rail Curatorial Projects. Among many other awards, Bui received The Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Prize for Arts Writers in 2017, was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Arts in 2020, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts in 2021.

Ben Keating

Ben Keating
was born in Brooklyn, New York; he lives in Brooklyn and works between Mana Contemporary, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. Ben operates The Keating Foundry at Mana Contemporary as a master sculptor who works primarily in bronze. He has also casted bronze sculptures for artists like Julian Schnabel, Michele Oka Doner, Kiki Smith, Tom Otterness, and many others.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.