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Talking to the Bones

April 16 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

A photo of David Mills next to the cover of his book of poems- Boneyarn with text about the event and two logos.

A reading by David Mills of poems about slavery in Manhattan where the oldest and largest slave cemetery in the country is located.

Van Cortlandt Park Alliance presents a poetry reading by poet and Bronx byproduct David Mills.

Mills will read from his poetry collection, Boneyarn, the first-ever book of poems about slavery in New York City and winner of the 2022 North American Book Award. The reading will be held on the third floor of the Van Cortlandt House Museum, adjacent to an area identified as the quarters inhabited by the enslaved people who toiled and lived on the plantation.

The Enslaved People Project 

This reading is part of a series of Van Cortlandt Park Alliance’s ongoing programs and  continued efforts to educate the community about the Enslaved People of the Van Cortlandt Plantation.

About Boneyarn: New York City holds the oldest and largest slave cemetery in the United States—the Negro Burial Ground—which was open from 1712 to 1795 and is located in Wall Street’s shadows. Fifteen thousand enslaved and free Blacks, some Native Americans, and poor whites are buried there. Mills creatively “excavates” the tragedies and triumphs of New York’s enslaved and free Black community. He writes about those who toiled as cooks, childhood chimney sweeps, sailed the Atlantic, fought in the Revolutionary War, maintained African traditions when burying the dead, built the “wall” where Wall Street gets its name, and regrettably were dehumanized in life and sometimes desecrated in death. The collection also includes a suite of poems dedicated to Jupiter Hammon; born into slavery in New York, Hammon was the first Black poet published in North America.

About David Mills: David Mills holds an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College and an M.A. from New York University in creative writing. He’s published four collections: Boneyarn (New York slavery poems), After Mistic (Massachusetts slavery poems), The Sudden Country and The Dream Detective. His poems have appeared in PloughsharesColorado ReviewFenceCrab Orchard ReviewJubilatCallalooBrooklyn Rail, and Obsidian.


Space is limited so advance registration is required.

Special thanks to our hosts at the Van Cortlandt House Museum and the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York who will provide light refreshments.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.



April 16
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
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