CARL HANCOCK RUX is a published poet, essayist, novelist and playwright.

His plays and performance works for theater have been produced and or commissioned throughout the United States and internationally at venues including The Joseph Papp Public Theater, the Robert E. Fischer Center for the Performing Arts, PS 122, the Kitchen, HERE Arts Center, New Victory Theater, Lincoln center (Serious Fun & Outdoors Festival), Aaron Davis Hall, the BAM Harvey Theater (Next Wave Festival), REDCAT (Los Angeles), Mass MOCA (Mass.), the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas (Seattle, Washington), Theater X (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), University of Ghana at Legon (West Africa), Ebenezor Experimental Theater Festival (Sweden) Maison des Arts (Creteil, France), and the Victoria Theater (Singapore) among others. Plays include Geneva Cottrell, Waiting for the Dog to Die, Mycenaean, Chapter & Verse, The No Black Male Show, Smoke, Lilies & Jade, Singing In the Womb of Angels, Yanga, Song of Sad Young Men, and the libretto for two operas: The Blackamoor Angel and Makandal.

As a radio journalist he has been a guest commentator on WNYC and for XM radio’s The Bob Edwards Show as well as written and hosted National Public Radio’s Walt Whitman: Songs of Myself, winner of the New York Press Club Journalism Award for Entertainment News. As a recording artist he has recorded three CD’s: Rux Revue (Sony 550), Apothecary Rx (Giant Step), and Good Bread Alley (Thirsty Ear).

Rux is the subject of Carl Hancock Rux, Coming of Age (Larry Clamage/Richard Maniscalco for Voices of America), recipient of the CINE Golden Eagle award for television documentary.

Carl Hancock Rux has written for (and performed with) several dance companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co., Jane Comfort & Co., and created the title role in the Robert Wilson/Bernice Johnson Reagon opera The Temptation of Saint Anthony, which had its world premiere at the Paris Opera (Garnier).

Mr. Rux is the recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Prize, and the Bessie Schomburg Award, the Village Voice Literary Prize, Fresh Poet Award, National Endowment for the Arts/Theater Communication Group Playwright in Residence fellowship, NEA Leadership Initiatives Meet the Composer Grant, the Kitchen Theater Artist Award, Rockefeller Map grant, Creative Capital Artist grant, New York Foundation for the Arts Gregory Millard fellowship, NYFA Prize, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) Arts & Artists in Progress Award and was shortlisted for the United Artist Fellowship.

He is the author of the Village Voice Literary prize-winning collection of poetry Pagan Operetta (Fly By Night Press/Autonomedia), the novel Asphalt (Simon & Schuster) and the OBIE award winning play Talk (TCG).




A Novel

Atria – May 18, 2004

Already a celebrated performance artist, vocalist, poet, playwright, and visionary, Carl Hancock Rux now presents a brilliant debut novel—a profound and lyrical portrait of urban life that will take its place among the classics of American literature.

Asphalt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a city and its inhabitants in transition, a timely meditation and a virtuosic performance by a unique prose stylist. Written in an electrifying, poetic style that captures the soul of a city and its inhabitants, Asphalt is a groundbreaking debut by a gifted artist. Rux’s narrative––drawing some of its inspiration from Jean Racine’s reimagining of Euripedes’ Hippolytus––moves with the logic of a dream, floating freely between poetic visions and gritty reality, as the identities of the characters blur and even merge. With Asphalt, author Carl Hancock Rux makes a bold debut and leaves an indelible imprint on the literary landscape.

Racine is a reserved young man, but his passion for music lights him up inside. He’s just returned from Paris where he’d been invited by a friend to produce music, make recordings, and earn a living. The plan didn’t quite pan out, and now he’s back in New York, where fate, providence, or just plain chance leads him to a once-glorious brownstone turned into a squat by a few eccentric loners.

There’s Manny, who wears sarongs and glitter but has no trouble attracting beautiful women, and Couchette, a gorgeous second-generation dancer whose mother has gone to Bali to live and bear a child with a man who built her a house in the midst of a rice paddy. What binds the characters is a deep sense of loss. Each is—like the city they live in—wounded and seeking healing and connection with and through the other housemates.

Rux’s poetic fiction blurs the lines between characters’ dreams, memory, and reality.

Asphalt—the name representing the essence of the city and the hard, layered, yet vulnerable sensibility of its inhabitants—is part post-modern parable, part urban mythology, and altogether relevant to contemporary reality. Asphalt is daring and unforgettable, marking the arrival of an original and astounding new voice in American literature.

Praise for ASPHALT

“Daring, intense, and provocative, in Asphalt, Hancock Rux fast forwards the novel form into a future that is unexpected, seductive, and compelling.”—Jill Nelson, author of Sexual Healing

Asphalt [is] a hallucinatory journey…set in a sooty, just-a-day-after-tomorrow future. The book blends speculative fiction and myth with real-life post-9/11 unease embroidered throughout…enamored with densely arranged assemblages—quirky juxtapositions, blurry borders—spinning dross into gold…a grand-scale collage.”—Los Angeles Times

Asphalt gets at how the urban myth of ‘keeping it real’ must continually run up against the abstracting roadblocks and revelations of one’s fractured inner truth and the even sexier surrealism of a Cosmopolis determined to remix your imagination at every turn. Like Celine’s Journey, Baraka’s System, and Delaney’s Dahlgren, this is a novel where the mythopoeic modern city is the real protagonist and the ostensible hero, like all of us, is just a squirrel trying not to nut out.”—Greg Tate, author of Everything but the Burden

“The first lines…promise a mélange of literary forms and edgy melancholy characters…part postmodern parable, part contemporary urban portrait…it is fully formed, like an existential poem.”—Black Issues Book Review, QBR Summer 2004 reading selection

“[A]n elegantly gloomy addition to Rux’s artistic achievements.”—Publishers Weekly

“Rux’s novel is written beautifully in a neo-1970s hipster style, and his writing is so effective because the attitudes, values, and morals that these artists abide by is subtly woven into his narrative and washes over us in undulating waves, constantly reminding the reader that art is indeed a state of being in many respects and not simply something that one does or is defined by the places or the conditions where one lives.“—


Jessica SpiveyR