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Carl Hancock Rux

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Carl Hancock Rux

Carl Hancock Rux
Carl Hancock Rux, Harlem Stage Gala, May, 2012
Born Carl Stephen Hancock
New York City, United States
Occupation Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Essayist, Recording Artist, Actor, Director
Language English
Ethnicity African American
Period 1990–present
Literary movement Afro Futurism, Speculative & Dystopian Fiction
Notable works Asphalt, Rux Revue, Talk, Pagan Operetta
Notable awards Alpert Award in the Arts, NYFA Prize, Village Voice Literary prize, Obie Award, Bessie Award, (BAX) Arts & Artists in Progress Award

Carl Hancock Rux (born March 24, in Harlem, New York City) is an award winning playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, performer, theater director and recording artist. He is the author of several publications including "Pagan Operetta" (poetry), Asphalt (novel) and the OBIE award winning play Talk. 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. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Alpert Award in the Arts.


  • Early life and influences 1
  • Works 2
  • Bibliography 3
    • Poetry 3.1
    • Literary fiction 3.2
    • Selected Plays 3.3
    • Selected Essays 3.4
    • Selected Anthologies 3.5
    • Journalism 3.6
    • Libretti 3.7
  • Discography 4
    • Solo Albums 4.1
    • Collaborations 4.2
    • Singles 4.3
    • 12-Inch Singles 4.4
    • Other Contributions 4.5
  • Contemporary Dance (Text &Music) 5
    • Movin' Sprits Dance Co. 5.1
    • Anita Gonzalez 5.2
    • Jane Comfort & Co. 5.3
    • Urban Bush Women 5.4
    • Jubilation! Dance Co. 5.5
    • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 5.6
    • Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (Ailey II) 5.7
    • Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Theater 5.8
    • Roberta Garrison Co. 5.9
    • M'Zawa Dance Co. 5.10
    • Robert Moses Kin 5.11
    • Topaz Arts Dance 5.12
  • Actor 6
    • Theatre 6.1
    • Film & Documentary 6.2
  • Radio 7
  • Curator 8
  • Academia 9
  • Activism 10
  • Awards/Grants/Honors 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Early life and influences

Rux was born in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem

Born Carl Stephen Hancock in Harlem, New York,[1] 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).[2] 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[3] where he studied visual art and eventually double majored in voice,[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.


Rux is one of several poets (including 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.



  • Elmina Blues (poetry) 1995
  • Pagan Operetta (poetry/Short Fiction/SemioText) 1998

Literary fiction

  • Asphalt (novel) (Atria, Simon & Schuster) 2004
  • The Exalted (novel) forthcoming

Selected Plays

  • Song of Sad Young Men
  • Talk
  • Geneva Cottrell, Waiting for the Dog to Die
  • Smoke, Lilies and Jade
  • Song of Sad Young Men
  • Chapter & Verse
  • Pipe
  • Pork Dream in the American House of Image
  • Not the Flesh of Others
  • Singing In the Womb of Angels
  • Better Dayz Jones (Harlem Stage)
  • "Stranger On Earth" (Harlem Stage)
  • The (No) Black Male Show
  • Mycenaean
  • Asphalt (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 Essays

  • "Eminem: The New White Negro" [13]
  • "Dream Work and the Mimesis of Carrie Mae Weems" [14]
  • "Belief and the Invisible Playwright" [15]

Selected Anthologies

  • Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project University of Texas Press
  • Soul: Black Power, Politics, and Pleasure NYU Press
  • Heights of the Marvelous NYU Press
  • Juncture: 25 Very Good Stories and 12 Excellent Drawings Soft Skull Press
  • Da Capo Best Music Writing 2004: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Hip-hop, Jazz, Pop, Country, and More, DeCapo Press
  • Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, Counterpoint Press
  • Humana Festival 2014: The Complete Plays, Playscripts, Incorporated
  • Action: The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Theatre, Simon & Schuster
  • Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Three Rivers Press
  • The African American Male, Writing, and Difference: A Polycentric Approach to African American Literature, Criticism and History, State University of New York Press
  • Meditations and Ascensions: Black Writers on Writing, Third World Press
  • Plays from the Boom Box Galaxy: Theater from the Hip-hop Generation, Theatre Communications Group
  • Bad Behavior, Random House
  • Verse: An Introduction to Prosody , John Wiley & Sons Press
  • Significations of Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of a Black Film, UMI Press
  • So Much Things to Say: 100 Poets from the First Ten Years of the Calabash International Literary Festival, Akashic Books
  • Black Men In Their Own Words, Crown Publishers
  • Bulletproof Diva, Knopf Doubleday
  • Race Manners: Navigating the Minefield Between Black and White Americans, Skyhorse Publishing
  • In Their Company: Portraits of American Playwrights, Umbrage Press
  • Listen 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 Stage
  • Blackamoor Angel (music by Deidre Murray; directed by Karin Coonrod) Bard Spiegeltent/Joseph Papp Public Theater
  • KINGMAKER (music by Toshi Reagon) BRIC Arts Media


Solo Albums

  • Cornbread, Cognac, Collard Green Revolution (unreleased/1997)
  • Rux Revue Sony/550 Music (1999)
  • Apothecary Rx Giant Step (2004)
  • Good Bread Alley Thirsty Ear (2006)
  • Homeostasis CD Baby (2013)


  • Sweeper Don't Clean My Streets Polygram (1995)
  • Eargasms Vol. 1 (1996)
  • 70 Years Coming R. L. Burnside Bongload/Acid Blues Records (1998)
  • Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like the Rivers: Black Poets Read Their Works, Rhino (2000)
  • Bow Down to the Exit Sign David Holmes Go! Beat (2000)
  • Love Each Other Yukihiro Fukutomi Sony/ Japan (2001)
  • Optometry DJ Spooky Thirsty Ear Recordings (2002)
  • The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Studio Cast Recording) (2004)
  • "Inradio 5 Morningwatch" 2004
  • "Thirsty Ear Presents: Blue Series Sampler" (Thirsty Ear) 2006
  • Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work, 1888-2006 Box Set Shout! Factory (2006)
  • More Than Posthuman-Rise of the Mojosexual Cotillion Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, TruGROID (2006)
  • The Dogs Are Parading David Holmes Universal (2010)
  • Life Forum Gerald Clayton Concord Jazz (2013)


  • "Miguel" (Sony) 1999
  • "Wasted Seed" (Sony) 1999
  • "Fall Down" (Sony) 1999
  • "No Black Male Show" (Sony) 1999
  • "Good Bread Alley" (Thirsty Ear) 2006
  • "Thadius Star" (Thirsty Ear) 2006
  • "Living Room" (Thirsty Ear) 2006
  • "Disrupted Dreams" (Giant Step) 2010
  • "Eleven More Days" (Giant Step) 2010
  • "I Got A Name" (Giant Step) 2010
  • "Living Room" (Kevin Shields Remix) (Mercury) 2013

12-Inch Singles

Other Contributions

Contemporary Dance (Text &Music)

Movin' Sprits Dance Co.

  • 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 Center
  • Of Urban Intimacies (chor: Marlies Yearby), Lincoln Center Serious Fun!, Central Park Summerstage, National Tour
  • That Was Like This/ This Was Like That(chor: Marlies Yearby, music: Grisha Coleman), Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Central Park Summerstage, National Tour

Anita Gonzalez

  • Yanga, (chor: Anita Gonzalez, music: Cooper-Moore, composer), Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Montclair State College

Jane Comfort & Co.

  • 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

  • Soul Deep (chor: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, composer: David Murray), Walker Arts Center, National Tour
  • Shelter (chor: Jawole Willo Jo Zollar, music: Junior Gabbu Wedderburn) International Tour
  • Hair Stories (chor: Jawole Willa jo Zollar) BAM Theater/Esplanade Theater (Singapore) Hong Kong Arts Festival

Jubilation! Dance Co.

  • Sweet In The Morning (chor: Kevin Iega Jeff)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

  • Shelter (chor: Jawole Willo Jo Zollar, music: Junior Gabbu Wedderburn) City Center, International Tour
  • Uptown (chor: Matthew Rushing) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Four Corners (chor: Ronald K. Brown) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 2014

Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (Ailey II)

  • Seeds (chor: Kevin Iega Jeff) Aaron Davis Hall, Apollo Theater, National Tour

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Theater

  • The Artificial Nigger (chor: Bill T. Jones) Arnie Zane Bill T. Jones Dance Co; music: Daniel Bernard Roumain National Tour

Roberta Garrison Co.

  • 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.

  • Seeking Pyramidic Balance/Flipmode (chor: Maia Claire Garrison) 651 Arts

Robert Moses Kin

  • Helen (chor: Robert Moses) Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center
  • Nevabawarldapece (chor: Robert Moses) Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center

Topaz Arts Dance

  • Dreamfield (chor: Paz Tanjuaquio) Hudson River Park NY


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.".[16]


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

Rux appears in the films The Grand Inquisitor (directed by Tony Torn, screenplay by Ruth Margraff), The Nelson George) and Gill Scott Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (directed by Don Letts for BBC television).


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.[5] 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.



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.[17] 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,[18] 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.[19] 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.


  • Alpert Award in the Arts
  • OBIE Award
  • Bessie Schonburg Award
  • New York Foundation for the Arts Prize
  • CINE Golden Eagle Award (television documentary)
  • MNSWA Urban Griot Award (poetry)
  • Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) 10 Arts & Artists in Progress Award
  • New York Press Club Journalism Award for Entertainment News
  • Kitchen Theater Artist Award
  • Fresh Poet Prize
  • National Endowment for the Arts Playwright in Residence Fellow
  • New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard Fellow
  • Rockefeller Map Grant *Rockefeller Multi-Arts Production Fund
  • Rockefeller Multi Arts Production Fund
  • Creative Capital Fund
  • Creative Capital Multi-Arts Production Fund
  • Creative Capital Artists Initiative Grant
  • Doris Duke Awards for New Works
  • Doris Duke Charitable Fund
  • National Endowment for the Arts Grant
  • New York State Council on the Arts Grant
  • Mary Flagler Cary Foundation
  • Time 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 Music
  • Vibe Magazine "Ones to Watch"
  • Village Voice Literary Prize
  • Interview Magazine Artists Award
  • Hermitage Artist Fellow
  • United States Artist Fellowship (shortlist)
  • Isadora Duncan Award/Outstanding Text and Dance (nominated)


  1. ^ "Carl Hancock Rux". eMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Stapleton, Lara (January 21, 2009). "Carl Hancock Rux With Lara Stapleton". The Brooklyn Rail.
  3. ^ a b "Forward And Back". The New York Times. October 5, 2003. 
  4. ^—-an-artist-who-is-all-about-the-work/
  5. ^ a b "Carl Hancock Rux". National Book Foundation. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Bookstore". Nuyorican Poet's Bookstore. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ Hill, Anthony D.; Barnett, Douglas Q. (2008). Historical Dictionary of African American Theater. Scarecrow Press. p. 428.  
  8. ^ Wishna, Victor (2006). In Their Company: Portraits of American Playwrights. Consortium Book Sales & Dist.  
  9. ^ "Off-Broadway". New York Magazine (New York Media) 23 (32): 145. August 20, 1990. 
  10. ^ "Isaiah Washington Biography (1963-)". Film Reference. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  11. ^ Rux, Carl Hancock (2004). Talk. Theatre Communications Gr.  
  12. ^ "Carl Hancock Rux, Renaissance Man". Weekend Edition Sunday.  
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Brooklyn Boheme. FilmBuff. January 1, 2011.
  19. ^ Villarosa, Linda (March 20, 2012). "Group Helps You Find Mr. Wright". The Local. Fort Green/Clinton Hill. 

External links

  • Official website
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