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Remembering Gwendolyn Brooks
October 29 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm$5.00
African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Free with Reduced Museum Admission of $5.00
Poet, educator, and social activist Gwendolyn Brooks was a singular force in American culture. The first black woman to be named United States poet laureate, Brook’s poetry, fiction, and social commentary shed light on the beauty of humanity, the distinct qualities of black life and community, and the destructive effects of racism, sexism, and class inequality.
An informal discussion honoring Gwendolyn Brooks on her centennial with Herman Beavers, Margo Natalie Crawford, Sonia Sanchez, and Lamont Steptoe.
“But each time I read Miss Brooks, each time I revisit her poems, they climb up on my knees and sit in tight contentment. They speak to me of form and color, patterns and dawns. They talk of myths: they tell me where flesh lives, where a troop of young heroes and sheroes lean back in chairs. “beautiful. Imprudent. Ready for life’ Where the young ‘Live not for battles won. /Live not for the-end-of-the-song/Live in the along’” -Sonia Sanchez
“If a person from another planet continent or culture wishes to gain insight into the inner working, the comings and goings of black people in America, an excellent place to begin a formal or informal education is with the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks.”-Haki R. Madubuti
HERMAN BEAVERS is Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, he has been teaching African American Literature and Creative Writing since 1989. His poems have appeared in Whiskey Island, Cross Connect, Black American Literature Forum (presently titled The African American Review), Dark Phrases, The Cincinnati Poetry Review, Peregrine, The Painted Bride Quarterly, Callaloo, MELUS, The Langston Hughes Colloquy, Versadelphia, Cleaver Magazine, and American Arts Quarterly, as well as the anthology, Gathering Ground: A Cave Canem Reader. His chapbook, A Neighborhood of Feeling won first prize in the Doris Press Chapbook competition. His poems have been nominated for The Best American Poetry series, The Best of the Web, and nominated three times for The Pushcart Prize in Poetry. He has been a finalist for the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize, and the Lena Miles Wever Poetry Prize. Dr. Beavers has recently completed work on a chapbook of poems, The Vernell Poems an d a full length poetry manuscript. His chapbook, Obsidian Blues, is forthcoming from Agape Editions as part of its Morning House Chapbook Series.
MARGO NATALIE CRAWFORD is the author of Dilution Anxiety and the Black Phallus (Ohio State University Press, 2008) and the coeditor, with Lisa Gail Collins, of New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement (Rutgers University Press, 2006). Her essays appear in a wide range of books and journals, including American Literature, Want to Start a Revolution?, The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945, The Modernist Party, Callaloo, Black Camera, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Black Renaissance Noire, and James Baldwin: Go Tell It on the Mountain; Historical and Critical Essays. She is on the editorial board of the Society for Textual Scholarship, the James Baldwin Review, and the Wiley Blackwell Anthology of African American Literature. She is now completing “Black Post-Blackness: the 1960s and 70s Roots of 21st Century Black Aesthetics.” Margo has participated in programs with Gwendolyn Brooks in Chicago in the past. She was the faculty director of Cornell’s Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research program, and now works as an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
SONIA SANCHEZ is an African-American poet most often associated with the Black Arts Movement. She has authored over a dozen books of poetry, as well as short stories, critical essays, plays, and children’s books. She was a recipient of 1993 Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Lucretia Mott Award for 1984, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, and the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. In 2001, Sanchez was the recipient of the Robert Frost Medal for her poetry (one of the highest honors awarded to a nationally recognized poet), the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities for 1988, the Peace and Freedom Award from the Women International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award for 1999. She has lectured at over 500 universities and colleges in the United States and has traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Europe, Nicaragua, the People’s Republic of China, Norway, and Canada. She has been influential to other African-American female poets, including Krista Franklin.
LAMONT STEPTOE is a poet, activist, Vietnam Veteran, photographer and founder/publisher of Whirlwind Press. He is a graduate of Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater, where he majored in Radio, Television, and Film. Steptoe has a clear, direct and matter-of-fact approach to his socio-cultural subject matter and his language is rich and revealing. He is the author of fourteen books of poetry and is the editor of two collections of poems by South African poet, Dennis Brutus. He has performed his work at the Library of Congress, the National Library of Nicaragua, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, the Knitting Factory, the Schomburg Center for Black Culture, and various colleges and universities throughout the United States. He was awarded the Life-time Achievement Award by the Kuntu Writers Workshop from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in 1996 and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Steptoe was awarded the American Book Award in 2005.