Alexis Pauline Gumbs

The luminous, visionary poetry of Alexis Pauline Gumbs emerges from urgent realities of the present and haunting voices of the past to imagine alternative worlds shaped by radical listening, compassion, and love.

Born in Summit, New Jersey in 1982, Alexis Pauline Gumbs is an activist, critic, poet, scholar, and educator. A self-described “Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist,” Gumbs uses hybrid forms to re-envision old narratives and engage with the history of Black intellectual-imaginative work. Her four books of prose-poetry include Dub: Finding Ceremony (2020), Undrowned (2020), M Archive (2018), and Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (2016). Dub, M Archive, and Spill form a kind of triptych, each engaging with the work of a Black woman theorist: Sylvia Wynter in Dub; M. Jacqui Alexander in M Archive; and Hortense Spillers in Spill. In all her work, Gumbs raises the stakes of literature within and beyond the page. She is a people’s poet, awake to the form’s capacity to imagine alternative worlds, across and through time. Her worldview is capacious and paradigm-shifting, speaking to urgent realities with exuberant love, and inviting activists, artists, and readers alike to join in her participatory presentations. A graduate of Barnard College and Duke University, Gumbs is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (2022), a Whiting Award (2022), and a National Humanities Center Fellowship (2020). She lives in Durham, North Carolina, and is currently at work on a biography of Audre Lorde.

I still keep asking myself if this is really happening. This means so much as an independent non-traditional artist. I feel like I'm being rewarded for trusting myself. ALEXIS PAULINE GUMBS