Deadlines and Divine Distractions

Negar Azimi, Pati Hertling, 2021

Deadlines and Divine Distractions is an ongoing epistolary project, which brings together letters between friends and strangers, the living and the dead. In this special iteration, letters penned by six artists, writers, and filmmakers—each accompanied by a phone recording—will intervene weekly in the Renaissance Society’s regular cadence of email announcements.

The project’s co-editors—Negar Azimi, writer and Editor in Chief of Bidoun, and Pati Hertling, Deputy Director of Performance Space New York—have made this selection of letters on the occasion of the Renaissance Society’s current exhibition, Smashing into my heart, which explores friendship as a framework for interrogating how we live and work and exist in the world.

Miranda July

Los Angeles, March 2017

Screen reader-compatible PDF transcript available here.

Miranda July is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. Her books include a collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, and a novel, The First Bad Man. She wrote, directed and starred in The Future and Me and You and Everyone We Know—winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes. July’s participatory art works include the website Learning to Love You More, Eleven Heavy Things (a sculpture garden), New Society (a performance), and Somebody (a messaging app.) Her newest book Miranda July (Prestel, 2020) is a complete retrospective of all her work to date. July’s third feature film, Kajillionaire, was released in Fall 2020. Raised in Berkeley, California, July lives in Los Angeles.

Kaveh Akbar

Somewhere in the air, 2018

Screen reader-compatible PDF transcript available here.

Kaveh Akbar is the author of two books of poetry—Pilgrim Bell (Graywolf, 2021) and Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James, 2017)—and the editor of The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse. Akbar’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, The New York Times, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. He also serves as Poetry Editor for The Nation. Born in Tehran, Iran, Kaveh teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph and Warren Wilson College.

Audrey Wollen

New York, 2018

Screen reader-compatible PDF transcript available here.

Audrey Wollen is a writer from Los Angeles, currently living in New York City. Recently, her work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, Artforum, The New York Times, Bookforum, and The Nation.

Ariana Reines

New York, October 2018

Screen reader-compatible PDF transcript available here.

Ariana Reines is author of A Sand Book (Tin House, 2019), the play Telephone (Wonder, 2018), and The Origin of the World (Semiotext(e) for the Whitney Biennial, 2014) among other works as a poet, theatrical playwright, translator, and performing artist.

Natasha Stagg

New York, 2002

Screen reader-compatible PDF transcript available here.

Natasha Stagg is author of Surveys: A Novel and Sleeveless: Fashion, Image, Media, New York 2011-2019 (both Semiotext(e)).

Eileen Myles

New York, November 2014

Screen reader-compatible PDF transcript available here.

Eileen Myles came to New York from Boston in 1974 to be a poet, subsequently novelist, public talker and art journalist. A Sagittarius, their 22 books include For Now, evolution, Afterglow, I Must Be Living Twice/new & selected poems, and Chelsea Girls. In 2019 they wrote and directed an 18-minute super 8 film, The Trip, a puppet road film. See it on youtube. They live in New York and Marfa, TX.

This page will be updated with letters and recordings as they come out each week. Sign up for our mailing list to receive the missives directly in your inbox.