Assotto Saint’s Sacred Spells: Collected Works is a landmark volume that brings together an expansive range of the late Haitian-born American poet and performance artist’s work.
Assotto’s poems, plays, essays, and short stories are gathered for the first time in a volume edited by Michele Karlsberg, in the context of the Black gay cultural arts and AIDS movement of the 1980s and ’90s.
Assotto braids music and incantation, his Haitian heritage and activism, to craft a tapestry that celebrates life in the face of death. His work insists on truth, while never forgetting love and the erotic, as he rages against the silencing of Black gay voices and those suffering from HIV/AIDS. Assotto’s life and work speaks with an urgency and example that is as timely today as when he lived.
Born Yves Francois Lubin in Haiti in 1957, Assotto Saint was a New York-based gay activist, poet, and performance artist who edited two anthologies of gay Black poets in the early 1990s. In addition, Saint also wrote and produced several theater pieces, including Risin to the Love We Need and New Love Song. Saint was the founder and artistic director of Metamorphosis Theater and the lead singer of the rock band Xotica. He died of HIV-related illness in 1994.
The interdisciplinary writer, performer, and central figure in the Black gay cultural arts and AIDS movements was influential to contemporary writers such as Essex Hemphill, Marlon Riggs, and Melvin Dixon.
Sacred Spells is Saint’s crucial legacy: five hundred incandescent pages of painful, lyric writing that exemplifies the visceral, spiritual dimensions of an artistic practice that’s integral to Black and LGBTQ activist movements worldwide, both historic and present.
Advance praise for the book:
“The road before us looms as an infernal horizon, then metamorphoses and appears as the cyclical Phoenix at the crossroads of life, an intersection of evolution and revolution, where we—baptized in the righteous anger of the Haitian Saint Assotto—forgive and heal in the knowledge that none of us is a cosmic orphan.”—André De Shields
“Assotto was a man who created community… And the fragmented nature of this volume accurately reminds us of the brilliance and courage cut short. A necessary addition that speaks directly to our world.”— Sarah Schulman
“Assotto Saint swept in, like Dorothy Dandridge if she’d been allowed to play Cleopatra: tall, regal, perfectly made up, moving as if on a Milan runway with an authority unlike any poet I’d ever seen. When Assotto spoke, it was like French silk fabric snapped out over you… He said, ‘on my resume write survivor.’”—Jewelle Gomez
Get the book here.