Hello Poetry Family and Friends,
Wow, we made it through April, National Poetry Month (NPM)! This year April was truly a marathon month in more ways than one! For me, the month literally ended with the 1st Annual Black Writers Museum Poetry Marathon on Saturday, April 30th, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This incredible 12-hour event (11 AM to 11 PM!) featured hundreds of poets of all ages from across the country. One of the poetry groups with which I am a member, Collective Voices, was honored to participate. Although the marathon was overflowing with talent throughout the day and well into the night, one of the major event highlights was the tribute to special honored guest poets, Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka by local Germantown elementary and middle school-aged students. Immediately following the tribute, Bro. Supreme Dow, founder of The Black Writers Museum, presented "Living Legends" awards to both honorees. The Black Writers Museum Poetry Marathon was a awesome event! I encourage you to visit http://blackwritersmuseum.org/
to obtain more info about this extraordinary and historic celebration of literary excellence. Thank you, Supreme Dow, for including Collective Voices in your inaugural Poetry Marathon. We look forward to continuing to support your efforts and are proud to have participated in the first ever Black Writers Museum Poetry Marathon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Persons and organizations interested in contacting and/or supporting the newly established Black Writers Museum may contact museum founder, Supreme Dow at 267.297.3078 or send a Facebook contact through the above listed link.
Just as the month ended on an extraordinary note, it began with excellence as well. On April 2, Collective Voices (Ladi Di, Brenardo and Sistah Joy) along with area poets, Dyone Mitchell, Avery Lanier Tynes and Carolyn Joyner, along with classical musicians Karen Wiggs-Wilbanks and Patrick D. McCoy, and The Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers, were featured in the premiere presentation of Honoring A King, the 2011 Poetry Between The Lines, NPM event. Honoring A King, a creation of Collective Voices, was sponsored by The Prince George's Arts Council (PGAC) and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, (M-NCPPC) with support by the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA). This commemorative tribute to the legacy of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which was presented during the period of national recognition of the 43rd anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, was attended by hundreds. Thank you to all who attended and also to those who have extended such overwhelming emails and phone calls of support after the event. In response to the echoed sentiment of many, Collective Voices would be very pleased to have Honoring A King become an annual event presented at The Publick Playhouse or other Prince George's County-based venue each April. We will certainly keep friends and supporters informed of opportunities to help make this possible. Additional information about the inaugural Honoring A King tribute is available on the PGAC website at http://princegeorgesartscouncil.org/news-events/
. Please reply via email if you or your organization are interested in bringing Honoring A King or similar programs of cultural and artistic significant to your community or venue.
On Thursday, April 21, Annie's Art Gallery, where I serve as Poet in Residence, was honored to present Orville Walker (aka "Orville The Poet") as our Featured Poet at the Gallery's 2011 NPM Family-Friendly Poetry Open Mic. Thank you Orville, and thank you also to visual artist, Ishmael Reed and our NPM celebration sponsor, Chatmoa Insurance. A big THANK YOU also to our ever growing Poetry Family that came out to celebrate poetry with us at Annie's Art Gallery. We look forward to seeing each of you again this month on Thursday, 5/19, when Just MundayNight will be our featured poetry group. Save the date now, ...and pass the word!
Of significance also last month was Gospel Cha-Cha, a collaboration of poetry and opera. On Sunday, April 3, classical composer Elena Ruehr presented her opera, the New Music for a New Age, a concert which partnered the poetry of Langston Hughes with the full orchestra accompaniment of The Washington Chorus and featuring Baritone Steven Salters. This partnering of poetry and opera took place at The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. This was truly an exceptional experience, one which the members of Collective Voices along with several hundred classical music enthusiasts, were blessed to witness. Thank you CAAPA, for your innovative programs and lecture series which made it possible for us to attend this event.
Thank you and congratulations to Brenardo on hosting your 5th annual noontime NPM "Spring Fling" on 4/22 at Verizon's corporate offices in Silver Spring. I know I speak for each Featured Poet: Gayle Danley, Mosaic, Ladi Di, and yours truly (Sistah Joy) when I say we each enjoyed presenting our poems welcoming and celebrating Spring in such a beautifully decorated setting. The music, decor and picturesque setting (the wall of floor to ceiling windows overlooking a wooded and natural garden area) were inspiring and uplifting. The light mist of spring rain actually accentuated the feeling of springtime. Your co-hosts, Ladi Di and Gayle Danley encouraged us all to have fun while infusing their own unique style as hosts. Poetry in Spring is just so very perfect!
Thank you also to Avery Lanier Tynes for extending the invite to participate in your 5th annual NPM Open Mic celebration at the Largo-Kettering Library. Ladi Di and I enjoyed it! Collective Voices looks forward to being supporters again next year!
Congratulations to Ladi Di on her successful NPM Harmony Hall Open Mic Night on 4/15. I was so very happy to support your event, Ladi Di. It was good to see so many of our friends and community poets there as well, ...and absolutely wonderful to hear Mrs. Dorothy Beverly (Ladi Di's #1 fan!) on the mic!
The Anointed P.E.N.S. (Poets Empowered to Nurture Souls) of Ebenezer A.M.E. Chuch Poetry Ministry celebrated NPM by ministering to the residents at The Fort Washington Health and Rehabilitation Center on Saturday, 4/16. We always receive so much more than we give through this experience. We have ministered at The Center many times and are blessed to have been invited to return again. We look forward to doing so. We are doubly pleased to have welcomed two new Ministry members who joined us at this event. Welcome to the PENS Family Sis. Dreama and Bro. Malcolm! Persons interested in learning more about The Anointed P.E.N.S. or who wish to join The Ebenezer A.M.E. Church Poetry Ministry may reply to this posting or phone The Ebenezer A.M.E. Church Poetry Ministry 24-hour Hotline at 301.265.8254.
Thank you also to the extraordinary group of individuals at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center who invited me to participate in the community-galvanizing efforts surrounding Fortunes Bones - The Manumission Requiem.
This extraordinary year-long project promises to be an incredible experience, one that will provide many opportunities for interested members of the community to become involved. Information about Fortune's Bones
, about which Connecticut poet-laureate Marilyn Nelson wrote Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem, which Dr. Ysaye Barnwell, composer and artistic director of Sweet Honey in the Rock, set the text to music, can be viewed at http://www.fortunestory.org/.
There will be an extensive series of community activities that will culminate in an opera and full orchestra cantata. Please be in touch if you would like to be part of this intriguing project.
I have listed most of the major public poetry events in which I was involved during National Poetry Month here. Please be in touch if you would like additional information about any of these events or about upcoming poetry events in which you have an interest.
Also, I am happy to announce that my chapbook, From Pain To Empowerment - The Fabric of My Being, has just be reprinted, so I am now able to make copies available. The chapbook costs $10. Also, the 2nd printing of my earlier publication, This Garden Called Life, which contains my poetry and photography is expected to be available later this month. The cost is $15. I will announce the availability of my first book, Lord I'm Dancin' As Fast As I Can, as soon as the reprints are available, prayerfully before the end of this summer. Thank you to those of you who have obtained each of my 3 books. My fourth book of poetry, Midnight Sunrise, is expected to be available next year. Please be in touch if you would like to host book signings or book me for poetry performances, or simply would like to obtain signed copies of the books for yourself or as gifts for friends and loved ones.
Thank you to all who supported any of these poetry activities during NPM. Whether poetry-based or birthday-based (thanks for all the cards!), the celebrations throughout the month of April were magnificent. It was truly a marathon month!
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Blessings & much love to all,