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Saturday, March 1, 2014

What Langston Heard

      The following was written by poet John-Michael Albert. One of the many reasons I have been too busy to post lately is that I have been researching my writer. Her life is fascinating.

What Langston Heard: Contemporary Poets Read and Respond to Langston Hughes's Contemporaries; sponsored by Seacoast African American Cultural Center; at the Kittery Community Center; Thu Apr 24, 2014, 7:00-9:00 pm. Very proud of this project. Hope many of my friends take the plunge and witness the greatest array of local poets I've ever seen at a single event. 

Contemporary Poets Read and Respond to Langston Hughes’s Contemporaries
Sponsored by The Seacoast African American Cultural Center
Thursday, April 24, 2014, 7-9 pm; Kittery Community Center, Community Room; 120 Rogers Road, Kittery ME 03904

The Seacoast African American Cultural Center has adopted the theme “The Harlem Renaissance” for this year’s activities. In recognition of National Poetry Month, they have asked me to curate a poetry reading on Thursday evening, April 24, 2014 and suggested that it focus on Harlem Renaissance poets other than Langston Hughes. I have also chosen to exempt three other famous poets from the era, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, and Claude McKay. When these famous men went to a poetry reading, who did they hear?

I have invited contemporary poets to select a Harlem Renaissance poet to introduce with a short bio, to read a poem by that poet, and to write an original poem in response—a sort of poetic dialogue. The following, in chronological order, are the HARLEM RENAISSANCE POETS that have been selected by the following (contemporary poets):

ALICE DUNBAR-NELSON (1875-1935) (Tammi Truax, journalist, Herald)

GEORGIA DOUGLAS JOHNSON (1877-1966) (Pat Frisella, immediate past president of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire)

ANGELINA WELD GRIMKÉ (1880-1958) (Alison Harville, Business Systems Analyst, Liberty Mutual)

EFFIE LEE NEWSOME (1885-1979) (Royaline Edwards, Artist in Residence, Eliot Elementary School)

FENTON JOHNSON (1888-1958) (Bruce Pingree, Manager, The Press Room; Heart of Portsmouth Award 2013)

STERLING BROWN (1890-1960) (James Rioux, Lecturer in English, University of New Hampshire Durham)

JEAN TOOMER (1894-1967) (Mark DeCarteret, 7th Portsmouth Poet Laureate)

GWENDOLYN BENNETT (1902-1981) (Maren Tirabassi, 3rd Portsmouth Poet Laureate, Pastor, Union Congregational Church Madbury)

ARNA BONTEMPS (1902-1973) (Gordon Lang, 2011 New England Association of Teachers of English, Poet of the Year; teacher, English and Journalism, Kingswood High School Wolfeboro)

LANGSTON HUGHES (1902-1967) (the single exception)(John Perrault, 4th Portsmouth Poet Laureate, lawyer and balladeer)

HELENA JOHNSON (1907-1995) (Kathleen Knox, student of S Stephanie, New Hampshire Institute of Art Manchester)

MAE COWDERY (1909-1953) (S Stephanie, teacher and mentor, New Hampshire Institute of Art Manchester and Peterborough)

I am very excited by the array of poets who have responded to my invitation, and by the array of poets they’ve chosen to represent at the event. When the evening is over, you’ll have no doubt about the rich poetic community Hughes, Cullen, Johnson and McKay thrived in. And you may have discovered a new favorite poet from the period as well.

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