Poet and photographer Thomas Sayers Ellis spends some time in Houston

March 28, 2013, by

TSE Self PortraitLucky for us, accomplished poet and photographer Thomas Sayers Ellis is spending some time in Houston this spring.

Currently a faculty member of the Lesley University low-residency M.F.A Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Poetry Editor of The Baffler, Thomas’ poetry books include Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems and The Maverick Room. He is working on a book of photographs titled The Go-Go Book: People in the Pocket in Washington, D.C.

Thomas is one of the artists of Project Row Houses’ Round 38 Installations opening this weekend. The Artists’ Talk takes place Saturday, March 30th, at 2:30 pm and the opening reception takes place later that day from 4 -7 pm. For more information, click here.  Thomas will also read tonight, Thursday, March 28th, at 8:30 pm, as part of the Poison Pen Series at Poison Girl Bar, click here for details.

We had the good fortune to meet Thomas last week. It’s hard not to be charmed by his wit and thoughtfulness. He was kind enough to answer a few questions and share some images with us:

This Some BullshitInprint: Can you tell us a little bit about your installation opening this weekend at Project Row Houses?

Thomas: The installation is a series of photographic images exploring the way people in the 3rd Ward embody, live and perform Self Defense including variations of “Leave Me Alone,” “You Getting On My Nerves” and “I Ain’t Trying to Hear None of That” to name a few.

Inprint: You’ve been in Houston a few weeks now and this is your first time here, how are you finding it as a city to share your work in?

TSE Mural 2011Thomas: Like most big American cities, Houston contains an overlooked city within it. I am here, without a car, and three cameras. I find it un-walkable which means there is no place for in, truly, for folk––the people who do their living and dying closest to the ground. I am here to share my work with those people, to stay grounded.

Inprint: You are a poet, a photographer, and do so much more. How do you create space for all your passions? Do you feel like you get pulled in different directions or do you feel like your poetry makes you a better photographer and visa versa?

Ryan and Mary white borderThomas: I feel like I am a thief; like I steal everything from sleep. The passions make me. They create me and that is something the world has to make space for not me.

Inprint: After your time in Houston, what’s next for you?

Thomas: I am in another photography exhibition titled “D.C. As I See It” at the Leica Galley Store in Washington, D.C. then I am headed to New York City for a reading/celebration of Poetry Magazine, then I am giving a talk at Columbia University on the poets Amiri Baraka and Robert Hayden. After that I teach at Cave Canem which is followed by a ten day low residency stint at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Inprint: Thanks so much for your time Thomas. See you at the reading and at Project Row Houses.




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