Eileen Myles, Precious Okoyomon and Anaïs Duplan perform poetic pieces for the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

This film presents the first instalment of a bi-annual, bi-coastal night of poetry, music and performance that aims to raise funds for different charitable organisations. Two New York-based artists, Eliza Soros and Eliza Barry Callahan, are the driving force behind the Verses project. They collaborated with filmmaker Owen Smith-Clark on this film that memorializes their maiden event.”

For one night in early 2019, Verses brought together established and emerging multidisciplinary artists to perform work in reaction to the migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border. “It was important to us that the film not only exist as a record,” the directors comment. “But also as a stand-alone piece that both extends and evokes the legacy of activism within the arts.”

Hosted in The Kitchen, a non-profit space in Manhattan, the film’s monochrome and syncopated visuals are excerpts of musical performances from Lily Konigsberg and L’Rain, with powerful poetry and spoken work delivered by the likes of Eileen Myles, Dorothea Lasky, Wayne Koestenbaum, Precious Okoyomon, Anaïs Duplan and Raquel Salas Rivera.

To proactively address socio-political issues across the US, the night was held in support of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP)—with Soros and Callahan collaborating with artist Gussie Roc. The group provides emergency legal aid to thousands of asylum seekers across the country and works to make the government accountable for abuses suffered by people in detention.

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