Saturday April 16, 2016
Brandywine Workshop, 728 S. Broad Street
Poetry as Personal History
A Day of Workshops
Workshops are 75 minutes with 15 minutes between them
“… the relationship between the craft of poetry and memoir and their reliance upon its intuitive nature. Perhaps this ethereal concept can be better understood in Melvillian terms. In Moby Dick Melville describes the inner life as fluid rather than linear. “There is no steady unretracing progress in this life: we do not advance through fixed gradations. . . . But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally.” A successful work of art retains this sense of fluidity. It contains the hills and valleys of experience. The reader enters the narrative or lyric, shaped by the author’s hand, and is witness to not only what is said, but the mystery and miracle of what exists in the white space or as Wallace Stevens wrote: “The nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” from The Unreasoning Mask by Jill Bialosky
10:00am – John Balaban
John Balaban is the author of twelve books of poetry and prose, including four volumes which together have won The Academy of American Poets’ Lamont prize, a National Poetry Series Selection, and two nominations for the National Book Award. His Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. In 2003, he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. and in 2005, he was a judge for the National Book Awards. His latest books of poetry are Path, Crooked Path, (2006) and Like Family, a chapbook (2009). In addition to writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, he is a translator of Vietnamese poetry, and a past president of the American Literary Translators Association. In 1999, with two Vietnamese friends, he founded the Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation (http://nomfoundation.org). In 2008, he was awarded a medal from the Ministry of Culture of Vietnam for his translations of poetry and his leadership in the restoration of the ancient text collection at the National Library. Balaban is Professor Emeritus of English at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
11:30 – Gregory Corbin
Lincoln University graduate and Philadelphia native, Gregory Corbin Jr., is the Founder and Executive Director of Philly Youth Poetry Movement. He is an award-winning international poet, motivational speaker, activist, teacher, and humanitarian. With over ten years of extensive classroom and community experience mentoring and educating youth, Corbin seeks to close generation gaps and foster healthy communication within communities.
Corbin is an accomplished artist who has performed from South Carolina to South Africa. He has shared stages with India Arie, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Saul Williams, Sonia Sanchez and many other powerful artists. Corbin has been featured at schools, conferences, and festivals. He has discussed youth advocacy and empowerment on TED talks, HBO, CNN, CSPAN, BET and other networks. He is the recipient of the Knight Foundation’s BMe award.
Corbin currently serves on the Mayor’s Commission for African America Males, along with the Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate Commission. He is dedicated to providing youth with the tools for becoming lifelong learners, self-advocates, and agents of social change who will shape the future. Corbin believes that when we invest in the voices of the youth, we are in turn investing in the voices of the future.
1:00pm – Lunch
2:00 Afaa M. Weaver
“Weaver offers up poems that accomplish the rare feat of describing both a foreign land—the whole spectra of people, places, traditions insofar as such can be bottled up in poems and transmitted to a reader. However, he does much more: he flawlessly incorporates his own personal history and personal struggles with his explorations of Asia and in doing so, makes his poetry all the richer instead of truncating or lessening either his autobiographical approach nor his geographical journey. City of Eternal Spring is rich, and deep, yet accessible to the reader who is willing to approach it. We need more poetry of this tenor, more poetry that is able to interrogate cultural traditions but without the normal tropes of a poet pigeon-holed into a certain ethnic, national, or other tradition: a poet, as Weaver proves himself, who is truly a traveler.” ~ Mike Walker, “Coal Hill Review”
“In these nuanced, sobering, and beautifully cadenced poems, the poet tries to deal with haunting, mysterious voices of past, present, and future—whether of fear, anxiety, joy, love, or hope. Reconciling East and West, he achieves solacing harmony and tranquility. A marvelous work.” –Ching-Hsi Perng, President of Taipei Chinese Club, on The Government of Nature
“The Kingsley Tufts Award is one of the most prestigious prizes a poet can win, and I’m delighted to see it go to Afaa. His father was a sharecropper. After serving for two years in the Army, he toiled for fifteen years in factories, writing poems all the while. When he learned that he’d won a National Endowment Fellowship, he quit his job and attended Brown University on a full scholarship. He essentially invented himself from whole cloth as a poet. It’s truly remarkable.” Chase Twichell, Chief Judge, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award 2014, presented for The Government of Nature, “City of Eternal Spring , [winner of the Phillis Wheatley Award for excellence in poetry at the 2015 Harlem Book Fair, is the final book in Afaa Michael Weaver’s Plum Flower Trilogy. The two earlier books, The Plum Flower Dance: Poems 1985 to 2005 and The Government of Nature, reveal similar themes that address the author’s personal experience with childhood abuse through the context of Daoist renderings of nature as a metaphor for the human body, with an eye to recovery and forgiveness in a very eclectic spiritual life. City of Eternal Spring chronicles Weaver’s travels abroad in Taiwan and China, as well as showing the limits of cultural influence.” -University of Pittsburgh Press
3:30pm Amy Small-McKinney
Amy Small-McKinney is the author of Life is Perfect, and two chapbooks of poetry, Body of Surrender and Clear Moon, Frost. She was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, such as The American Poetry Review, Tiferet Journal, The Cortland Review, The Pedestal Magazine, LIPS Magazine, upstreet, SAND, Berlin’s English Literary Journal, and anthologies, including Veils, Halos, Shackles: International Poetry on Oppression and Empowerment of Women, and Main Street Rag, Voices from the porch. Small-McKinney was guest editor for the June 2006 issue of The Pedestal Magazine and recipient of the 2011 Toni Brown Memorial Scholarship, judged by several poets, including Peter Murphy and J. C. Todd. She was the 2011 Montgomery County Poet Laureate, selected by poet, Christopher Bursk: “I was immediately won over by the complexity of the language in the deceptively local poem Dillsburg, PA, a poem hardly provincial in its immersion of us in the syntax and in the setting. This poet is not afraid to try all the tools available in poetry, all the ways it can take form on the page, all the ways it can tease and mystify and provoke us…”
Her poetry was part of a collaboration of women artists and poets for the project, The Poetry Dress, at the 2011 Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Several poems written during cancer treatment are to be published in an anthology, Bared. During her tenure as 2011 Montgomery County Poet Laureate, Amy founded a program using creative writing for healing. “Often, the only relief I’d get from fear and worry was to sit down and write. I did not try to write perfect poems. I wanted to be allowed to say anything. And it was the only time during day or night when I felt some sense of relief. So I just kept writing through the whole process. I didn’t even know if they were poems yet. I didn’t care if they were poems. I just knew it was the only place I could feel some sense of control. During the chemo, when I was really sick, I didn’t write as often, but it was always there for me. It was a ladder out of this well, this cave. I was drowning and it was my ladder out. So I’m grateful to poetry.” from an interview on April 22nd, 2015 in The Breast Cancer Journey.
5:00 pm – Sonia Sanchez
Poet. Mother. Professor. National and International lecturer on Black Culture and Literature, Women’s Liberation, Peace and Racial Justice. Sponsor of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Board Member of MADRE. First Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, Sonia Sanchez is the author of over 16 books including Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Homegirls and Handgrenades, Under a Soprano Sky, Wounded in the House of a Friend, Does Your House Have Lions?, Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Shake Loose My Skin, and most recently, Morning Haiku. In addition to being a contributing editor to Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies, she has edited an anthology, We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans. BMA: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review is the first African American Journal that discusses the work of Sonia Sanchez and the Black Arts Movement.
A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, she is a winner of the 1985 American Book Award for Homegirls and Handgrenades, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities for 1988, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom (W.I.L.P.F.) for 1989, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for 1992-1993 and the recipient of Langston Hughes Poetry Award for 1999. Does Your House Have Lions? was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist and a Ford Freedom Scholar from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Sonia Sanchez 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 was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University and she held the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University. She is the recipient of the Harper Lee Award, 2004, Alabama Distinguished Writer, and the National Visionary Leadership Award for 2006
6:30pm – Dinner Break
7:30pm – Saturday Night Reading
John Balaban, Gregory Corbin, Sonia Sanchez, Amy Small McKinney & Afaa M. Weaver