Jessica Hagedorn, Tenement Lover: (no palm trees/in new york city), 1981. Performance view, The Kitchen. ©1981 Paula Court.
Jessica Hagedorn, Tenement Lover: (no palm trees/in new york city), 1981. Performance view, The Kitchen. ©1981 Paula Court.

Constance DeJong, Jessica Hagedorn, Carl Hancock Rux, and Matvei Yankelevich

Literature at The Kitchen: A Roundtable

On View: May 14

The Kitchen’s series of 50th Anniversary Conversations continued with a roundtable exploring the history of literature and language-based programming at The Kitchen. The recording of this event, which took place via livestream on May 4, 2021, appears below.

From the time of The Kitchen’s first literature event in 1976 through to the establishment of its dedicated literature series in 1989 and into the present day, The Kitchen “has presented vanguard literary work, from many points of view, through author readings, spoken word, and other forms of live Literature events.” The roundtable participants Constance DeJong, Jessica Hagedorn, Carl Hancock Rux, and Matvei Yankelevich exemplify the range of language forms cited in this quotation from a 1995 Kitchen press release. Having presented their work in different decades, the participants in conversation conveyed both their individual contributions to and reflections on The Kitchen’s fifty years of programming.

To coincide with this roundtable, The Kitchen published a Video Viewing Room showcasing work that DeJong, Hagedorn, Rux, and Yankelevich (as a member of the Ugly Duckling Presse editorial collective) have presented or organized at The Kitchen.

This event is organized by DeJong and Alison Burstein, Curator, Media and Engagement.

Literature at The Kitchen: A Roundtable with Constance DeJong, Jessica Hagedorn, Carl Hancock Rux, and Matvei Yankelevich.

“Literature at The Kitchen” is the fifth event in the 50th Anniversary Conversation series, which brings together artists across generations who have sustained relationships with The Kitchen. These programs create opportunities to draw out connections within The Kitchen’s community and to reflect on the organization’s history through the lens of first-hand accounts. Previous events in the series featured Dara Birnbaum and Sondra Perry, Moor Mother and Vernon Reid, Eric Bogosian and Tina Satter, and Carlota Schoolman and Stephen Vitiello.


Constance DeJong is a New York-based artist who has exhibited and performed locally and internationally. Her work has been presented at Renaissance Society, Chicago; the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN; The Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and in New York at The Kitchen, Threadwaxing Space, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Dia Center for the Arts. She composed the libretto for the Philip Glass opera Satyagraha in 1983, which has been staged at opera houses worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera, NY; The Netherlands National Opera, Rotterdam, NL, and The Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY. She has permanent audio-text installations in Beacon, NY, London and Seattle. She has published several books of fiction, including her celebrated Modern Love(published by Standard Editions with Dorothea Tanning in 1977 and reissued by Primary Information/Ugly Duckling Presse in 2017), I.T.I.L.O.E(Top Stories, 1983), and Speakchamber (Bureau, 2013).

Jessica Hagedorn is a poet, novelist, playwright, and performance artist. Her publications include Toxicology, Dream Jungle, The Gangster Of Love, Danger And Beauty, and Dogeaters, which was a National Book Award finalist. Hagedorn has created performance collaborations with artists including Ntozake Shange & Thulani Davis (The Satin Sisters), Robbie McCauley & Laurie Carlos (Thought Music), Han Ong, Urban Bushwomen, Blondell Cummings, and The Gangster Choir. She has written plays including Most Wanted, Stairway To Heaven, Fe In The Desert, and the stage adaptations of Dogeaters, The Gangster Of Love, and Felix Starro, and the screenplays Fresh Kill andThe Pink Palace. Hagedorn has received numerous awards including The Rome Prize, the Guggenheim Fiction Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, the American Book Award, and the Lucille Lortel Playwriting Fellowship.

Carl Hancock Rux is an American poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, actor, and director. He is the author of several books including the Village Voice Literary Prize-winning “Pagan Operetta,” the novel Asphalt, and the Obie Award-winning play Talk. Rux is also a singer/songwriter with four CDs to his credit and a frequent collaborator in the fields of dance, theater, film, and contemporary art. Notable collaborators include Nona Hendryx, Toshi Reagon, Bill T. Jones, Ronald K. Brown, Nick Cave, Anne Bogart, Robert Wilson, Kenny Leon, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jonathan Demme, Stanley Nelson Jr., Carrie Mae Weems, and Glenn Ligon. Rux is the recipient of numerous awards including the Doris Duke Award for New Works, the Doris Duke Charitable Fund, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Prize, the Bessie Award and the Alpert Award in the Arts, and a 2019 Global Change Maker award by WeMakeChange.Org. Rux is a co-Artistic Director of Mabou Mines.

Matvei Yankelevich is a poet and translator and one of the founding editors of Ugly Duckling Presse, a nonprofit publisher of poetry, translation, experimental prose, performance texts, and books by artists, based in Brooklyn. He curates UDP’s Eastern European Poets Series, and was a co-editor of the poetry journal 6x6 from 2000 to 2017. His poetry books include Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt (Black Square). His translations from Russian include Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook/Abrams), and (with Eugene Ostashevsky) Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets), which received a National Translation Award. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for Humanities. He teaches translation and book arts at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.


“Literature at The Kitchen: A Roundtable with Constance DeJong, Jessica Hagedorn, Carl Hancock Rux, and Matvei Yankelevich” is made possible with generous support from David Freedlander, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.