• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
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readings & workshops
February 23

Poetry Reading: Anna Vitale & Roberto Harrison

readings & workshops
February 24

RESCHEDULED: Genre: Urban Arts No. 3 Release

readings & workshops
March 1

Wisconsin Reads The Round House

film & video
March 2

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
March 7

Poetry Reading: Kwabena Antoine Nixon

readings & workshops
March 8

Poetry Reading: Ed Block & Jenny Benjamin

readings & workshops
March 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Suman Chhabra

performances
March 15

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
March 17

Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body with Nikki Wallschlaeger, Jose-Luis Moctezuma & Jay Besemer

readings & workshops
March 22

Community Conversation About The Round House 

readings & workshops
March 28

Poetry Reading: Sherwin Bitsui & Bojan Louis

film & video
April 6

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
April 11

Poetry Reading: Luci Tapahonso

readings & workshops
April 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Lo Kwa Mei-en

readings & workshops
April 17

Poetry Reading and Conversation with Roberto Harrison @ Brown Deer Public Library

performances
April 19

Alash Ensemble

exhibitions
April 21

Woman: Frailty Thy Name, works by Renee Baker

performances
April 22

ACL presents Renee Baker Quartet, Visual Dark Scratch Suite

readings & workshops
May 2

Poetry Reading: Layli Long Soldier

performances
May 13

Alternating Currents Live presents The Bridge

readings & workshops
May 16

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series Noel Pabillo Mariano

performances
May 17

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
May 24

Poetry Reading: Urban Echo Poets

Joanne Diaz

Joanne Diaz is the recipient of fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of My Favorite Tyrants (Winner of the Brittingham Prize, University of Wisconsin Press ) and The Lessons (Silverfish Review Press). She teaches in the English Department at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Selected Poems

Two Emergencies

 

          after Bruegel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

 


These days, I don't see just the tiny legs
          of Icarus flailing
in the ice-cold waves, the plowman
          steering his obedient horse,
and the shepherd looking up to expose
          his face to the radiance of the sun.
I see the warhead that was stored
          in an unlocked potato shed
in a small Ukrainian town, 
          I see it smuggled across the Caucasus
to Iran, I see it hitting the surface
          of the water in the nanosecond
before the nuclear holocaust.
          When I remember that it's not
a question of if but when,
          I can imagine everything
within the frame of that painting
          and that final explosion.
Today, in El Bruc, there's only one
          pharmacy, one grocery, a public
swimming pool, and a bar, and from here,
          I can hike all the way up
to the Black Virgin of Montserrat. I can eat
          salchichón and Manchego every day
as a merienda, and I can watch
          the grape leaves crackle and drift
from the trellis to the outdoor table
          as a man, at ten in the morning, 
drinks his beer and listens
          to the car radio. Everyone's doing their best,
acting as if a bomb isn't
          about to detonate at any minute, 
and some act as if bombs
          haven't detonated at all. Two days
after the Towers became ash,
          my mother bought me a toaster from Kmart
and asked about my wedding plans
          as she would have on any other day. 
At the time, I thought callous, but now
          I think constant. I like to believe
that we have evolved because of figures
          like Icarus, but you don't have to be
an Old Master to know that isn't
          the whole story. That plowman?
Of course he heard the splash,
          the sounds of a drowning man. But he
had no idea how to swim, no interest
          in knowing, and you'd have to be
a goddamned idiot to abandon your horse
          and create two emergencies
where there was just one. Why not
          tend to your own horse. Why not
go home to a crappy toaster
          that sticks every time you push the lever. 


from My Favorite Tyrants (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), 
winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry