Celia Dropkin: Bent Like A Question Mark




Celia Dropkin was a transgressive visionary who published her first poems in Yiddish around 100 years ago. She wrote about desire and violence in a way that feels shockingly true; her work is well-loved by musicians and queers.   Book of J (Jewlia Eisenberg and Jeremiah Lockwood) were artists-in-residence at YIVO in 2018, setting Dropkin’s papers to music—including unpublished poems, autobiographical sketches and letters.  This presentation is a performance, an introduction to Dropkin’s work and milieu, and a discussion of open-archive process, where everything from research to brainstorming to listening to composition to rehearsal to presentation happens at a single site.


REGISTER FOR THIS ZOOM WEBINAR HERE: https://uchicago.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Fwz-LZWuSx2BR1wElyxT0Q


LISTEN to Zing Ikh Dir, a poem by Celia Dropkin with music by Book of J (featuring drummer Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs)




The BBC calls us: “a wonder of haunted American roots music, taking listeners from Yiddish laments to labor anthems via mystical twists and turns.”

The New Yorker says: “The affecting, expansive musical landscape of Book of J encompasses gothic Yiddish songs, Piedmont blues, and queer politics."



Jewlia Eisenberg is a musician and composer working at the intersection of voice, text and diaspora consciousness.  Her music is mostly released with John Zorn's Tzadik label on the Radical Jewish Culture imprint. Her installation work has been curated into the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and the Museum of Peace in Uzbekistan; she performs regularly in Europe and the Americas. She has been a visiting artist at CalArts, MIT, and the University of Colorado.


Jeremiah Lockwood has played around the world from Montreal Jazz to the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali, as the leader of The Sway Machinery and as the guitarist in Balkan Beat Box. Jeremiah was a recipient of a Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, an Artist-in-Residence for the Forward and a Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra Composer Fellow.  He is currently completing a PhD dissertation on cantorial revivalism in the New York Chassidic community at Stanford University.

Funding graciously provided by the Sarah (Bunny) and Leo Horvitz Memorial Lectureship Fund.