Billie Holiday. Photo by Herman Leonard. New York, 1955. Courtesy of Harmony Holiday.

In Conversation: Harmony Holiday and Margo Jefferson


On View: March 22

The Kitchen at Westbeth (163B Bank Street, 4th Floor Loft)


7pm (Doors and exhibition on view 6pm, program begins 7pm)

The first public program in conjunction with Harmony Holiday: BLACK BACKSTAGE brings the artist and award-winning writer Margo Jefferson into conversation to reflect on the histories and traditions of Black performance, memory, and critique.


Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, and experimental filmmaker whose work surveys music, ancestry, death and rebirth, and celebrity. She is the author of 5 collections of poetry including MAAFA (2022), and also curates an archive of griot poetics and a related performance and conversation series at LA’s 2220Arts. At the core of her practice is a pursuit of visual and literary vocabularies that might best express the melancholic hope endemic to Black American social life. As Holiday navigates the depths of Black remembrance and loss, she sets her sights on the relationship between “the new”, “the archival,” and the spaces between them that defy linear time. She treats these energies as collectively improvising ensembles in which prose and poetry sit by turns comfortable and chaotic, next to images cribbed from Black artistic and private life. Most recently she has received awards from the Silver’s and Rabkin foundations, and is completing a memoir Love is War for Miles, a biography of Abbey Lincoln, and collection of poems.

Margo Jefferson is an arts critic and memoirist. She was a staff writer at New York Times and Newsweek, and has published in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, VOGUE, O, The Believer, Guernica and Bookforum. Her essays have been anthologized in The Best African American Essays, The Best American Essays, The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death, The Jazz Cadence of American Culture and The Mrs. Dalloway Reader. Her books are On Michael Jackson (2005); Negroland (2015); and Constructing a Nervous System (2022). She received a 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, a 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, a 2022 Windham Campbell Prize for Nonfiction, and a 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize for Nonfiction. She lives in New York and teaches writing at Columbia University.


The Kitchen’s programs are made possible in part with support from The Kitchen’s Board of Directors, The Kitchen Leadership Fund, and the Director’s Council, as well as through generous support from The Amphion Foundation, Inc., Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Aaron Copland Fund for. Music, The Cowles Charitable Trust, Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, Inc., Howard Gilman Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Marta Heflin Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund, a fund of Tides Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Open Society Foundation, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, Ruth Foundation For The Arts, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Simons Foundation, and Teiger Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts 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 the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.