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Carl Hancock Rux

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  • Born: New York, NY [Harlem]
  • Years Active: 2000s


Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

All Music Guide:

Poet/spoken word performer Carl Hancock Rux was born and raised in Harlem, NY; a product of the city's foster care system, he later attended Columbia University. Named "One of 30 Artists Under the Age of 30 Most Likely to Influence Culture Over the Next 30 Years" in 1994 by The New York Times, over time Rux increasingly began incorporating elements of hip-hop, jazz, and R&B into his live poetry readings, and in 1999 he released his debut album, Rux Revue. Apothecary RX followed five years later on the Giant Step label. Good Bread Alley from 2006 found him on Thirsty Ear.


Carl Hancock Rux (born March 24, in Harlem, New York City) is an award winning American poet, novelist, singer-songwriter, essayist, theater/performance artist.

His archives are housed at the Billy Rose Theater Division of the New York Public Library, the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution as well as the Film and Video/Theater and Dance Library of the California Institute of the Arts.

The recipient of numerous awards including the Alpert Award in the Arts, his work has explored race, religion, politics, sexuality, isolation, and personal relationships. The New York Times critic Margo Jefferson assessed "Mr. Rux's ideas have the urgency and passion of actions. He draws on satire, rhetoric, naturalism (the kind, Strindberg said, seeks out the points where great battles take place), and poetry (that) enters a lyrical, perhaps painful private space that we have not been prepared for.".

^ http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/21/theater/theater-the-feel-of-real-life-working-its-magic.html?pagewanted=2

Early life and influences[edit]

Born Carl Stephen Hancock in Harlem, New York, Rux's biological mother (Carol Jean Hancock) suffered from chronic mental illness, diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and institutionalized shortly after the birth of his older brother. Born the result of an illegitimate pregnancy (while his mother was under the care of a New York City operated psychiatric institution) the identity of Rux's biological father, and that of his younger brother, are unknown. Rux's older brother lived with extended family members, his younger brother was placed in foster care and Rux lived under the guardianship of his maternal grandmother, Geneva Hancock (née Rux), until her death of cirrhosis of the liver (due to alcoholism). At four years of age he entered the New York City foster care system where he remained until he was legally adopted (at the age of fifteen) by his great uncle, James Henry Rux (a WWII veteran) and his wife Arsula (née Cottrell). Exposed to jazz music by his adoptive parents, including the work of Oscar Brown Jr., John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, Rux also became a member of the Harlem Writers Workshop, a summer journalism training program for inner city youth founded by African-American journalists, sponsored by Columbia University and The Xerox Corporation. He entered the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where he studied visual art and eventually double majored in voice, during which time he sang with the Boys Choir of Harlem and Hezekiah Walker's Love Fellowship gospel choir. Upon graduation from high school he took private acting classes at both HB studios, Gertrude Jeanette's Hadley Players as well as privately with actor Robert Earl Jones (father of actor James Earl Jones). Before graduating high school, Rux was briefly reunited with his older brother who was suffering from AIDS related dementia. Shortly after his older brother's death due to AIDS related complications, Rux continued his studies at Columbia University, American University of Paris as well as the University of Ghana at Legon. Rux wrote theater, film and music criticism for several magazines and publications including Essence magazine, Interview magazine (and later) American Theater magazine. During this time Rux also became influenced by the Lower East Side poetry scene, exposed to and collaborating with poets Miguel Algarin, Bob Holman, Jayne Cortez, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange; experimental musicians David Murray, Mal Waldron, Butch Morris, Craig Harris, Jeanne Lee, Leroy Jenkins as well as experimental theater artists Laurie Carlos, Robbie McCauley, Ruth Maleczech, Lee Breuer, Reza Abdoh and others.

^ "Carl Hancock Rux". eMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2013.^ Stapleton, Lara (January 21, 2009). "Carl Hancock Rux With Lara Stapleton". The Brooklyn Rail.^ "Forward And Back". The New York Times. October 5, 2003. ^ ort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/carl-hancock-rux-—-an-artist-who-is-all-about-the-work/^ "Carl Hancock Rux". National Book Foundation. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. 


Rux is one of several poets (including Paul Beatty, Tracie Morris, Dael Orlandersmith, Willie Perdomo, Kevin Powell, Maggie Estep, Reg E. Gaines, Edwin Torres and Saul Williams) to emerge from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, most of whom were included in the poetry anthology Aloud, Voices From the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, winner of the 1994 American Book Award. His first book of poetry, Pagan Operetta, received the Village Voice Literary prize and was featured on the weekly's cover story: "Eight Writers on the Verge of (Impacting) the Literary Landscape". Rux is the author of the novel Asphalt and the author of several plays. His first play, Song of Sad Young Men (written in response to his older brother's death from AIDS), was directed by Trazana Beverly and starred actor Isaiah Washington. The play received eleven AUDELCO nominations. His most notable play is the OBIE Award-winning Talk, first produced at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 2002. Directed by Marion McClinton and starring actor Anthony Mackie, the play won seven OBIE awards.

Rux is also a recording artist, first featured on Reg E. Gaines CD Sweeper Don't Clean My Streets (Polygram). As a musician, his work is known to encompass an eclectic mixture of blues, rock, vintage R&B, classical music, futuristic pop, soul, poetry, folk, psychedelic music and jazz. His debut CD, Cornbread, Cognac & Collard Green Revolution (unreleased) was produced by Nona Hendryx and Mark Batson, featuring musicians Craig Harris, Ronnie Drayton and Lonnie Plaxico. His CD Rux Revue was recorded and produced in Los Angeles by the Dust Brothers, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf. Rux recorded a follow up album, Apothecary Rx, (selected by French writer Phillippe Robert for his 2008 publication "Great Black Music": an exhaustive tribute of 110 albums including 1954's "Lady Sings The Blues" by Billie Holiday, the work of Jazz artists Oliver Nelson, Max Roach, John Coltrane, rhythm and blues artists Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton; as well as individual impressions of Fela Kuti, Jimi Hendrix, and Mos Def.) His fourth studio CD, Good Bread Alley, was released by Thirsty Ear Records, and his fifth "Homeostasis" (CD Baby) was released in May 2013. Rux has written and performed (or contributed music) to a proportionate number of dance companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company; Jane Comfort & Co. and Ronald K. Brown's "Evidence" among others.

^ "Bookstore". Nuyorican Poet's Bookstore. Retrieved May 30, 2013. ^ Hill, Anthony D.; Barnett, Douglas Q. (2008). Historical Dictionary of African American Theater. Scarecrow Press. p. 428. ISBN 9780810862760. ^ Wishna, Victor (2006). In Their Company: Portraits of American Playwrights. Consortium Book Sales & Dist. ISBN 9781884167546. ^ "Off-Broadway". New York Magazine (New York Media) 23 (32): 145. August 20, 1990. ^ "Isaiah Washington Biography (1963-)". Film Reference. Retrieved May 30, 2013. ^ Rux, Carl Hancock (2004). Talk. Theatre Communications Gr. ISBN 9781559362269. ^ "Carl Hancock Rux, Renaissance Man". Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR. June 27, 2004. 


Bibliography1.1 Poetry1.2 Literary fiction1.3 Selected plays1.4 Selected Anthologies1.5 Journalism1.6 Libretti


Elmina Blues (poetry) 1995Pagan Operetta (poetry/Short Fiction/SemioText) 1998
Literary fiction[edit]
Asphalt (novel) (Atria, Simon & Schuster) 2004The Exalted (novel) forthcoming
Selected plays[edit]
Song of Sad Young MenTalkGeneva Cottrell, Waiting for the Dog to DieSmoke, Lilies and JadeSong of Sad Young MenChapter & VersePipePork Dream in the American House of ImageNot the Flesh of OthersSinging In the Womb of AngelsBetter Dayz Jones (Harlem Stage)"Stranger On Earth" (Harlem Stage)The (No) Black Male ShowMycenaeanAsphalt (directed by Talvin Wilkes)Etudes for the Sleep of Other Sleepers (directed by Laurie Carlos)Steel Hammer (co-written by Will Power, Kia Corthran and Regina Taylor for the SITI company, directed by Anne Bogart).The Exalted (directed by Anne Bogart)NPR Presents WATER ± (co-written by Arthur Yorinks, directed by Kenny Leon)
Selected Anthologies[edit]
Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project University of Texas PressSoul: Black Power, Politics, and Pleasure NYU PressHeights of the Marvelous NYU PressJuncture: 25 Very Good Stories and 12 Excellent Drawings Soft Skull PressDa Capo Best Music Writing 2004: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Hip-hop, Jazz, Pop, Country, and More, DeCapo PressWords in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, Counterpoint PressHumana Festival 2014: The Complete Plays, Playscripts, IncorporatedAction: The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Theatre, Simon & SchusterBum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Three Rivers PressThe African American Male, Writing, and Difference: A Polycentric Approach to African American Literature, Criticism and History, State University of New York PressMeditations and Ascensions: Black Writers on Writing, Third World PressPlays from the Boom Box Galaxy: Theater from the Hip-hop Generation, Theatre Communications GroupBad Behavior, Random HouseVerse: An Introduction to Prosody , John Wiley & Sons PressSignifications of Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of a Black Film, UMI PressSo Much Things to Say: 100 Poets from the First Ten Years of the Calabash International Literary Festival, Akashic BooksBlack Men In Their Own Words, Crown PublishersBulletproof Diva, Knopf DoubledayRace Manners: Navigating the Minefield Between Black and White Americans, Skyhorse PublishingIn Their Company: Portraits of American Playwrights, Umbrage PressListen Again: a Momentary History of Pop Music, Duke University Press

Rux has been published as a contributing writer in numerous journals, catalogues, anthologies, and magazines including Interview magazine, Essence magazine, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, aRude Magazine, Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art (founded by fellow art critics Okwui Enwezor, Chika Okeke-Agulu and Salah Hassan) and American Theater Magazine.

Makandal (music by Yosvaney Terry, stage design and costumes by Edouard Duval Carrie, directed by Lars Jan) Harlem StageBlackamoor Angel (music by Deidre Murray; directed by Karin Coonrod) Bard Spiegeltent/Joseph Papp Public TheaterKINGMAKER (music by Toshi Reagon) BRIC Arts Media


Contemporary Dance (Text &Music)1.1 Movin' Sprits Dance Co.1.2 Anita Gonzalez1.3 Jane Comfort & Co.1.4 Urban Bush Women1.5 Jubilation! Dance Co.1.6 Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater1.7 Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (Ailey II)1.8 Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Theater1.9 Roberta Garrison Co.1.10 M'Zawa Dance Co.1.11 Robert Moses Kin

Contemporary Dance (Text &Music)[edit]

Movin' Sprits Dance Co.[edit]
Kick The Boot, Raise the Dust An' Fly; A Recipe for Buckin (chor: Marlies Yearby, co-authors: Sekou Sundiata, Laurie Carlos, music: Craig Harris ) Performance Space 122, Maison des arts de Créteil (France)Totin' Business & Carryin' Bones (chor. Marlies Yearby), Performance Space 122, Maison des arts de Créteil (France)The Beautiful (chor: Marlies Yearby, co-author:Laurie Carlos), Judson Church, Tribeca Performing Arts CenterOf Urban Intimacies (chor: Marlies Yearby), Lincoln Center Serious Fun!, Central Park Summerstage, National TourThat Was Like This/ This Was Like That(chor: Marlies Yearby, music: Grisha Coleman), Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Central Park Summerstage, National Tour
Anita Gonzalez[edit]
Yanga, (chor: Anita Gonzalez, music: Cooper-Moore, composer), Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Montclair State College
Jane Comfort & Co.[edit]
Asphalt (dir/chor:Jane Comfort; vocal score: Toshi Reagon, music: DJ Spooky, David Pleasant, Foosh, dramaturgy:Morgan Jenness, costumes: Liz Prince, lighting design: David Ferri ), Joyce Theater, National Tour
Urban Bush Women[edit]
Soul Deep (chor: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, composer: David Murray), Walker Arts Center, National TourShelter (chor: Jawole Willo Jo Zollar, music: Junior Gabbu Wedderburn) International TourHair Stories (chor: Jawole Willa jo Zollar) BAM Theater/Esplanade Theater (Singapore) Hong Kong Arts Festival
Jubilation! Dance Co.[edit]
Sweet In The Morning (chor: Kevin Iega Jeff)
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater[edit]
Shelter (chor: Jawole Willo Jo Zollar, music: Junior Gabbu Wedderburn) City Center, International TourUptown (chor: Matthew Rushing) Alvin Ailey American Dance TheaterFour Corners (chor: Ronald K. Brown) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 2014
Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (Ailey II)[edit]
Seeds (chor: Kevin Iega Jeff) Aaron Davis Hall, Apollo Theater, National Tour
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Theater[edit]
The Artificial Nigger (chor: Bill T. Jones) Arnie Zane Bill T. Jones Dance Co; music: Daniel Bernard Roumain National Tour
Roberta Garrison Co.[edit]
Certo! (chor: Roberta Garrison, music: Mathew Garrison) Scuola di Danza Mimma Testa in Trastevere (Rome, Italy) Teatro de natal infantil Raffaelly Beligni (Naples, Italy)
M'Zawa Dance Co.[edit]
Seeking Pyramidic Balance/Flipmode (chor: Maia Claire Garrison) 651 Arts
Robert Moses Kin[edit]
Nevabawarldapece (chor: Robert Moses) Yerba Buena Performing Arts CenterHelen (chor: Robert Moses) Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center


Actor1.1 Opera1.2 Theatre1.3 Film & Documentary



Rux studied acting at the Hagen Institute (under Uta Hagen); the Luleå National Theatre School (Luleå, Sweden) and at the National Theater of Ghana (Accra). Rux has appeared in several theater projects, most notably originating the title role in the folk opera production of The Temptation of St. Anthony, based on the Gustave Flaubert novel, directed by Robert Wilson with book, libretto and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon with costumes by Geoffrey Holder. The production debuted as part of the RuhrTriennale festival in Duisburg Germany with subsequent performances at the Greek Theater in Siracusa, Italy; the Festival di Peralada in Peralada, Spain; the Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in Santander, Spain; Sadler's Wells in London, Great Britain; the Teatro Piccinni in Bari, Italy; the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao and the Teatro Espanol in Madrid, Spain. The opera made its American premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2004 and official "world premiere" at the Paris Opera, becoming the first all African American opera to perform on its stage since the inauguration of the Académie Nationale de Musique - Théâtre de l'Opéra. Combining both his dramatic training and dance movement into his performance, Rux's performance was described as having "phenomenal charisma and supreme physical expressiveness" and achieving "a near-iconic power, equally evoking El Greco's saints in extremis and images of civil rights protesters besieged by fire hoses.".


Rux often appears in his own works and also appeared appeared in Blessing The Boats by Sekou Sundiata, directed by Rhodessa Jones (River to River Festival, Under The Radar Festival, Joseph Papp Public Theater, Segrestrom Center for the Performing Arts).

Film & Documentary[edit]

Rux appears in the films The Grand Inquisitor (directed by Tony Torn, screenplay by Ruth Margraff), The Bratz as well as the documentary films Brooklyn Boheme (co-directed by Diane Paragas and Nelson George)

and Gill Scott Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (directed by Don Letts for BBC television).

^ http://www.villagevoice.com/2004-10-19/theater/balm-in-brooklyn/full/


Carl Hancock Rux was the host and artistic programming director of the WBAI radio show, Live from The Nuyorican Poets Cafe; contributing correspondent for XM radio's The Bob Edwards Show and frequent guest host on WNYC. He also worked as a featured guest host for WNYC's Live at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space as well as NPR and co-wrote and performed in the national touring production of NPR Presents Water±, directed by Kenny Leon.

^ Cite error: The named reference NBF was invoked but never defined (see the help page).


The Whitney MuseumSolomon R. Guggenheim MuseumThread Waxing SpaceThe Foundry TheaterThe KitchenHarlem Stage


Rux is formally the Head of the MFA Writing for Performance Program at the California Institute of Arts and has taught and or been an artist in residence at Brown University, Hollins University, UMass at Amhurst, Duke University, Stanford University, University of Iowa, and University of Wisconsin at Madison, among others.


Rux joined New Yorkers Against Fracking, organized by singer Natalie Merchant, calling for a fracking ban on natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing. A concert featuring Rux, Merchant, actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo and musicians Joan Osborne, Tracy Bonham, Toshi Reagon, Citizen Cope, Meshell Ndegeocello and numerous others was held in Albany and resulted in public protests. Subsequently, New York Governor Mario Cuomo banned hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. New York follows Vermont as the only other U.S. state to ban fracking, joining such economic superpowers as France and Bulgaria. Rux was a co-producer ( through a partnership between MAPP International and Harlem Stage) and curator of WeDaPeoples Cabaret, an annual event regarding citizens without borders in a globally interdependent world. A longtime resident of Fort Greene Brooklyn, Carl Rux worked with the Fort Greene association and New York philanthropist Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel to erect a cultural medallion at the Carlton Avenue home where novelist Richard Wright lived between May and October, 1938, and penned his seminal work, Native Son. Rux is a member of Take Back the Night, a foundation seeking to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.

^ http://www.wsj.com/articles/cuomo-bans-fracking-1418947374^ Brooklyn Boheme. FilmBuff. January 1, 2011.^ Villarosa, Linda (March 20, 2012). "Group Helps You Find Mr. Wright". The Local. Fort Green/Clinton Hill. 


Alpert Award in the ArtsOBIE AwardBessie Schonburg AwardNew York Foundation for the Arts PrizeCINE Golden Eagle Award (television documentary)MNSWA Urban Griot Award (poetry)Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) 10 Arts & Artists in Progress AwardNew York Press Club Journalism Award for Entertainment NewsKitchen Theater Artist AwardFresh Poet PrizeNational Endowment for the Arts Playwright in Residence FellowNew York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard FellowRockefeller Map Grant *Rockefeller Multi-Arts Production FundRockefeller Multi Arts Production FundCreative Capital FundCreative Capital Multi-Arts Production FundCreative Capital Artists Initiative GrantDoris Duke Awards for New WorksDoris Duke Charitable FundNational Endowment for the Arts GrantNew York State Council on the Arts GrantMary Flagler Cary FoundationTime Out Top 10 Plays Citation (Theater)DeCapo’s Best Music Writing (Essay)New York Times "Thirty Artists under Thirty (Most Likely to Influence Culture)"New York Times Best Alternative MusicVibe Magazine "Ones to Watch"Village Voice Literary PrizeInterview Magazine Artists AwardHermitage Artist FellowUnited States Artist Fellowship (shortlist)Isadora Duncan Award/Outstanding Text and Dance (nominated)
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