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Prof. David Grundy

David Grundy

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow

I am an Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Research Fellow at FU Berlin. From 2019-2023 I was a British Academy Fellow at the University of Warwick, and until 2019, I taught literature and film at the University of Cambridge. 

My first book, A Black Arts Poetry Machine: Amiri Baraka and the Umbra Poets (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018) concerns the relation between poetry and politics in African-American avant-gardes of the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on the work of Amiri Baraka and the Umbra Poets' Workshop. My second book, Never By Itself Alone: Queer Poetry, Queer Communities in Boston and the Bay Area, 1944-Present, a history of American post-war queer poetry in San Francisco Renaissance and Boston, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2024, and includes studies of the "Occult School" of Boston, the Combahee River Collective, the Women’s Press Collective, and New Narrative writing.

My current research project, Survival Music: Free Jazz Then and Now, focuses on a music which forms a vital part of the long history of the Black Arts Movement, Black Power, Black left internationalism, and decolonisation. I examine this music from three angles: through ideas of internationalism and diaspora; through ideas of “outness”, particularly relating to queerness and gender; and as indexing the changing historical conditions of Black political and artistic avant-gardes since the Black Arts era. Among other topics, I examine the influence of Haitian vodou, the Geechee cultures of the Georgia Sea Islands, and the epochal 1969 Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algiers, and the work of artists including Archie Shepp, Jacques Coursil, Cecil Taylor, Marion Brown, and Linda Sharrock.

Beside these projects, I have published articles and book chapters on Amiri Baraka, N.H. Pritchard, Sophie Podolski and others, and with Lauri (Ramey) Scheyer, co-edited the Selected Poems of poet and sociologist Calvin Hernton; other editorial work includes a feature on the poet Tom Weatherly published on Jacket 2. I am a poet and publisher and have co-run the small press Materials since 2012.

Research interests

The Black Radical Tradition; 20th century and contemporary Poetry; Jazz, Hip-Hop, 20th and 21st-century New Music and Improvisation; Marxism; Feminism, Queer Theory; Cinema; Relations between Aesthetics and politics.

Personal Profile

Professional Experience

2023—             Freie Universität Berlin, Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Research Fellowship

2019–2023      University of Warwick, British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow 

2017–2019      University of Cambridge, Faculty of English, Teaching Associate 


2017                Ph.D English Literature, University of Cambridge

2012                M.Phil, Criticism and Culture, University of Cambridge

2009                B.A. English, University of Cambridge (Double First)

Awards and Fellowships

2023             Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Experienced Researcher Fellowship

2019-2023       British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship

2018                Conference allowance, PRC (Planning and Resources Committee), University of Cambridge 

2017                BAAS (British Association of American Studies) Conference Grant

2012-2016       Senior Scholar in Residence, Robinson College 

2012-2015       Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Studentship 

2009                Bloomsbury Prize in English, Robinson College 

Current Projects 

  • Survival Music: Free Jazz Then and Now
  • Ensembles: Writing on Music

Talks, Presentations and Other Public Events

Invited Talks

  • ‘Poets Talk Politics’, Instituto de Literatura Comparada Margarida Losa, University of Porto, February 2023.
  • ‘ “Losing & losing & Loss”: Jay Bernard and Linton Kwesi Johnson.’ University of Warwick, November 2022.
  • Earthbound Press Poetry Reading. London Literature Festival, Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, October 2022.
  • ‘Gay Small Press Publishing in Boston’. Spineless Wonders. Event series co-hosted by Senate House Library, University of London, the Slade, MMU and Dundee University, May 2022.
  • ‘Re-making John Wieners’s Behind the State Capitol’. Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, April 2022.
  • ‘Divine Comedy’. John Wieners: A Symposium. Centre for Poetry and Poetics, University of Durham, March 2022. 
  • ‘Poetry and Politics’, Miłosz Festival, Kraków, June 2021. Panel discussion with Luke Roberts, Harry Josephine Giles, Paweł Kaczmarski and Marta Koronkiewicz. 
  • ‘Poetry, the University and Defeat’. Poetics and the Crisis of the University: A Virtual Conference. City University, New York (CUNY)/ Chant de la Sirène. March 2021. 
  • ‘Never By Itself Alone’. Departmental Seminar, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick, October 2020.
  • ‘Tracing Umbra, Editing Calvin Hernton’. InterRUPTions presents Celebrating UMBRA: Workshop, Magazine, Movement. City College, New York (CCNY). May 2020. 
  • ‘Great Companions: Amiri Baraka’. Bay Area Public School, Oakland, July 2014.

Conference Papers

  • ‘ “Trying to keep things together”: Dance and Text in the work of Ishmael Houston-Jones’. Writing/Performance, Royal College of Art. January 2020.
  • ‘ “With Blazing Eyes and Opened Mouth”: The Poetry of Cecil Taylor.’ Unit Structures: The Art of Cecil Taylor. City University of New York (CUNY). October 2019.
  • ‘Contemporary Sappho’. Faculty Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, November 2018.
  • ‘ “Zero Hour”: D.S. Marriott and Simone White.’ RAPAPUK (Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK): Legacies of Colonialism, University of Cambridge, October 2018.
  • ‘ “In the Memory of Love”: John Wieners and Dana Durkee.’ Contemporary Innovative Poetry Research Seminar, University of London, October 2018.
  • ‘ “A Gay Presence”: Publication and Revision in John Wieners’ Behind the State Capitol.’ Publishing Queer, Senate House Library, October 2018.
  • ‘ “This is the Time”: On Guard for Freedom and the Death of Lumumba’. AALCS Panel, ALA (American Literature Association) Annual Conference, San Francisco, May 2018.
  • ‘Amiri Baraka and Marxism-Leninism in the 1970s’. The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic, Institute for the Black Atlantic, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK, October 2017.
  • ‘The Umbra Poets’ Workshop’. BAAS (British Association of American Studies) Annual Conference, Canterbury Christ Church University, April 2017.
  • ‘Poetry and Secrecy in Luke Roberts’ To My Contemporaries’. Secret Poetry Symposium, University of Northumbria, April 2016. 
  • ‘ ‘Towards the songs’ pretended sea”: History and Society in Amiri Baraka’. Amiri Baraka: A Retrospective, University of Kent / ICA, April 2014. 
  • ‘Occupy and the Student Movement’. Performing Cities, Cambridge Interdisciplinary Performance Network, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, January 2014.
  • ‘ “Suicide or Dynamite”: Sophie Podolski’s le pays où tout est permis’. Contemporary Experimental Women’s Writing Conference, University of Manchester, October 2013. 
  • ‘ “Poems that kill”: Violence and the Collective in the work of Amiri Baraka’. When ‘I’ means ‘we’: Poetry and Social Life: Comparative Poetics Colloquium, Princeton University, May 2013.  

Invited Workshops

  • ‘Typography and Queer Politics.’ Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, NL, November 2022.
  • British Academy Grant Writing Training Session. British Academy ECR Network, July 2022.
  • ‘Creative Writing in English’. Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, August 2019.
  • ‘Where Does Poetry Come From?’ Wuhan University Summer School, January 2019.
  • ‘Approaches to Material: Literatures in English’. Doshisha University Summer School, August 2017

Publishing and Public-Facing Activity

  • Publisher, Materials/Materialien (2014–). Poetry press, previously supported by Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fund, University of Cambridge. Publications include work by Pulitzer-prize winner Anne Boyer, San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin, J.H. Prynne, Sean Bonney, D.S. Marriott and younger and emerging poets. Books have been listed on the TLS and Guardian Books of the Year.
  • Organiser, Materials Reading and Seminar Series. Sponsored by Judith E. Wilson Fund, University of Cambridge, 2014-2019. Subsequently organized in London in venues including the May Day Rooms Archive.
  • Materials/Materialien: Group Show, Halle für Kunst, Lüneberg, January 2023.
  • Co-organiser (with Alex Assaly), Reclaiming the Legends: Myth and the Black Arts Movement. Exhibition and Film Series, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, January – February 2017.

Academic Monographs

--Reviewed in African American Review (2020), American Literary Scholarship (2019), Choice (2019), Journal of Beat Studies (2021), Journal of Urban History (2022) and The Year’s Work in English Studies (2021).
  • Never By Itself Alone: Queer Poetry, Queer Communities in Boston and the Bay Area, 1944-Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2024.

Trade Books

  • Ensembles: Writing on Music. New York: Blank Forms. Forthcoming, 2024. Essays.
  • A True Account. London: The 87 Press. Forthcoming, 2023. Poetry.
  • Present Continuous. London and Tehran: Pamenar Press, 2022. Creative Non-Fiction.
--Reviewed in Los Angeles Review of Books (2023).

Edited Books and Journal Issues 

  • Selected Poems of Calvin C. Hernton. Co-editor with Lauri (Ramey) Scheyer. Wesleyan University Press, 2023.
  • Co-editor with Jeff Hilson. Sean Bonney Special Issue, Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, 14 (1), September 2022.
  • Co-editor with Tonya Foster and Jean-Philippe Marcoux. The Umbra Galaxy. Wesleyan University Press. Forthcoming, 2024.
  • Editor. A Short History of Tom Weatherly. Jacket 2, University of Pennsylvania, September 2019. Web.


  • Umbra magazine (1963-1974): An Introduction and Bibliography. The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, 2021.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles 

  • ‘N.H. Pritchard by Sight and Sound’. African American Review, Vol. 56:3 (Fall 2023). 
  • ‘Poetry and Defeat in the Work of Sean Bonney’. Études anglaises, Vol. 76.1 (Jan.-Mar. 2023): 10-30.
  • ‘Songs for the Future: Askia Touré.’ Paideuma: Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. Vol. 48 (2023): 3-28.
  • ‘New Narratives in Gabrielle Daniels and Ishmael Houston-Jones’. Journal of Narrative Theory, Vol.51.3 (Fall 2021): 296-325.
  • ‘ “Zero Hour”: Simone White and D.S. Marriott’. Journal of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Vol.3.2 (2019): 88-103.
  • ‘Poetry and Secrecy in Luke Roberts’ To My Contemporaries’. Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, 10:1 (2018): 1-25.

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

  • ‘Demystifying Funding’. Getting In, Getting On and Getting Out of Academia. Accepted, forthcoming, HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) / The British Academy, 2023.
  • ‘A Question of Form: Jazz in Joans, Kaufman, and Cortez’. Keith Leonard (ed.), The Cambridge History of African American Poetry. Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press, 2023.
  • ‘Nation Times: Jazz and Hip-Hop’s Changing Same.’ Rob Turner (ed.), Hip-Hop and American Literature (Cambridge Themes in American Literature series). Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press, 2023.
  • ‘Hard Facts: Amiri Baraka and Marxism-Leninism in the 1970s’. David Featherstone, Christian Høgsbjerg, and Alan Rice (eds.), Revolutionary Lives of the Red and Black Atlantic since 1917. Manchester University Press, 2022. 
    • ‘ “A Gay Presence”: Publication and Revision in John Wieners’ Behind the State Capitol.’ Leila Kassir and Richard Espley (eds.), Queer Between the Covers. University of London Press, 2021. 
    • ‘John Wieners and the only one who ever mattered’. Alex Marsh and Michael Kindellan (eds.), Utter Vulnerability: Essays on John Wieners. Presses Universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2023.

Selected Reviews 


  • (With Pierre Crépon). Review of Sezgin Boynik and Taneli Viitahuhta, Free Jazz CommunismCritical Studies in Improvisation// Études critiques en improvisation  Vol. 14, No. 2-3 (May 2021).  
  • Review of Steve Abbott, Beautiful Aliens (Nightboat, 2019), Chicago Review, July 2020.
  • Review of Bob Kaufman, Collected Poems (City Lights Books, 2019). Music and Literature, July 2020.
  • Review of Building the Black Arts Movement: Hoyt Fuller and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s, by Jonathan Fenderson. The ALH Online Review, Series XXIV (2020).
  • Review of Graeme Abernethy, The Iconography of Malcolm X. Critical Quarterly, 56(2), July 2014, 124-127.


  • “Queer shoulders at the wheel”. [Review of Yours Presently: The Selected Letters of John Wieners.Boston Review, May 2021. 
  • 'Matrix Revolutions'. Review of N.H. Pritchard, The Matrix. ArtforumApril 2021.
  • Review of Stephen Jonas, Arcana (City Lights Books, 2019), Tripwire, Issue 16, May 2020. 

Other Writing

  • ‘ “Key to a Savage Sideshow”: The Magazines of the Occult School of Boston.’ In Nick Sturm (ed.), Little Magazines Cluster, Post-45, June 2023. 
  • ‘Shadows Out of Color’. [On Mark Hyatt] The Poetry Foundation, May 2023. 
  • ‘A Cry of Anguish: Eight Songs for a Mad King.’ The Wire, May 2023. 
  • ‘Muse of Fire: The phonopoetics of Fred Moten, Brandon López, and Gerald Cleaver.’ Artforum, April 2023. 
  • ‘Expanding Universe: Wayne Shorter (1933-2023).’ The WireMarch 2023. 
  • ‘Music boxes, walkie-talkies and the plantation machine: Hannah Kendall.’ Bachtrack, March 2023. 
  • ‘Eddie Prévost’s Journey to a Bright Nowhere’. Point of Departure, 80, September 2022. 

--Translated into Spanish by Chema Chacón for Oro Molido, January 2023.

  • ‘Passages: Pharoah Sanders (1940-2022).’ Artforum, September 2022. 
  • ‘Night Music: A Tristan und Isolde for our time.’ [On Hans Werner Henze’s Tristan.] Artforum, September 2022. 
  • ‘Nowhere Band: On AMM’s final performance’. Artforum, August 2022. 
  • “Together on the Way”: An Interview with Eva-Maria Houben. VAN Magazine, August 2022. 
  • ‘ “Attica is in Front of Me”: Mingus, Rzewski, Shepp’. Blank Forms Journal (Special Issue: Coming Together: Attica 50 years on), July 2022. 
  • ‘Child of Light: Claude Vivier’. Artforum, May 2022. 
  • ‘I Worship at the Shrine of Poetry: Anna Mendelssohn / Grace Lake’. The Poetry Foundation, March 2022. 
  • ‘The Julius Eastman Revival.’ 032c, March 2022. 
  • ‘Dave Burrell: From Ragtime to No Time: an interview with David Grundy.’ Point of Departure 78, March 2022. 
  • ‘Immortal Homosexual Poets:. On Michael Finnissy’s Hammerklavier’.  Artforum, February 2022.
  • ‘Diedre Murray: Stringology’. [Interview with Diedre Murray]. Point of Departure 77, December 2021. 
  • ‘The New Thing: John Coltrane in Seattle’. ArtforumOctober 2021. 
  • ‘Occupied Territory and Abolitionist Freeze-Frames: Haile Gerima’s Bush Mama’. Senses of Cinema, Issue 99, July 2021. 
  • ‘ Poetry, the Student Movement, and Defeat'. Chant de La Sirène, Issue 2: Poetics and the University in Crisis, July 2021. 
  • ‘Passages: Frederic Rzewski (1938-2021).’ Artforum, July 2021. 
  • ‘Unity: Larry Young and Black Music, from Soul Jazz to Free to Fusion’. Point of Departure 71, June 2021. 
  • ‘Passages: Milford Graves (1941-2021).’ Artforum, February 2021. 
  • ' ''Don't Talk to us about Being Killed": Uptight and The Problem of Black Cinema in Hollywood', Bright Lights Film Journal, August 2020. 
  • Passages: Jacques Coursil (1938-2020). Artforum, July 2020. 
  • 'Horses and History', Social Text, July 2020. 
  • ' "Why?": The Parabolic New Music of Alan Shorter', Point of Departure, Issue 71, June 2020. 
  • 'Cecil Taylor's Voodoo Poetics', Point of Departure, Issue 70, March 2020. 
  • 'Sean Bonney's Life-Work'. The Poetry Foundation, March 2020. 
  • 'Old Friends: The Anthony Braxton Standards Quartet'. Artforum, February 2020. 

Book Introductions

  • Introduction: “Tiny Social Mouths”. Kruk Book: An Anthology for Frances Kruk (Materials, 2022), 15-22.
  • Introduction: “Molten Bitumen is Poetry's Tendency Anyway”. Candace Hill, Short Leash Kept On (Materials, 2022), 
  • ‘Introduction: The Cricket in Context’. In: The Cricket: Black Music in Evolution,
  • 1968-69. Eds. by A.B. Spellman, Larry Neal, and A.B. Spellman (New York: Blank Forms, 2022), 9-16.
  • 'Introduction'. Gabrielle Daniels, Something Else Again: Poetry and Prose, 1975-2019. (Materials, 2020), viii-xi.


  • Turning. (Poetry pamphlet) RunAmok Press, 2022.
  • Local Apocalypse. (London: Materials, 2020).
  • Relief Efforts. (Brighton: Barque Press, 2018). 
  • To The Reader. (London: Shit Valley, 2016).
  • The Problem, The Questions, The Poem. (Oxford: Tipped Press, 2015)..
  • Whatever You Think the Good Home (Scarborough, ME: Punch Press, 2014)
  • [2010-present] Poems in Botch, Cambridge Literary Review, Contingencies, Datableed, Department, From London Out, Materials, Half Circle, Hi Zero, Romulan Soup Woman, Litter, Dusie, Internal Leg and Cutlery Preview, Gaff, Paradise Now, Sundial, No Infinite, The Paper Nautilus

 Liner Notes

  • Liner Notes to re-issue of Bill Dixon/Ben/Hall Aaron Siegel, Weight/Counterweight.  Forthcoming, 2023.
  • Liner notes to Eddie Prévost, The Art of Noticing (Matchless Recordings, 2023).
  • ‘New Whats In the Tradition’. Liner Notes to Anthony Braxton, Quartet (Standards) 2020. (Tri-Centric Foundation / New Braxton House Records, June 2021).
  • Liner notes to Consorts, Distinctions (Spoonhunt, 2021).
  • Liner notes to Furt, Sense (psi, 2009).