Thursday, May 29, 2008

Renowned African American poets Afaa Michael Weaver and Major Jackson to be in a filmed public discussion at Somerville Community Access TV

( Afaa Weaver)

(Major Jackson)

Renowned African American poets Afaa Michael Weaver and Major Jackson to be in a filmed public discussion at Somerville Community Access TV.

( Somerville, Mass.)

Doug Holder, founder of the independent literary press “Ibbetson Street,” and the host of the Somerville Community Access TV Show “Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer” has started the process of organizing a public discussion featuring renowned African American poets Afaa Michael Weaver ( and Major Jackson ( on April 2, 2009 ( Poetry Month)

Somerville poet Afaa Michael Weaver has won the prestigious PUSHCART PRIZE (2008) for his poem “American Income,” published in POETRY magazine and in his collection "Plum Flower Dance" ( U/Pitt Press.)

Henry Louis Gates, historian and professor at Harvard University writes of Weaver:

"Afaa Michael Weaver is one of the most significant poets writing today. With its blend of Chinese spiritualism and American groundedness, his poetry presents the reader (and the listener, for his body of work is meant to be read aloud) with challenging questions about identity, about how physicality and spirit act together or counteract each other to shape who we are in the world. His attention to the way language works is rare, and the effects of that attention on his poetry are distinctive and expansive."

Major Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry: Hoops (Norton: 2006) and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Hoops was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literature - Poetry. He has received critical attention in The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Parnassus, Philadelphia Inquirer, and on National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered.' His poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Callaloo, The New Yorker, Post Road, Poetry, Triquarterly, among other literary journals and anthologies. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Last year, he served as a creative arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and as the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Major Jackson is an Associate Professor of English at University of Vermont and a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars.

A description of the discussion is as follows:

“Two Generations of Black Male Poets/
Two Sets of Eyes on the Urban Landscape

Afaa Weaver & Major Jackson

In a public chat in the SCAT television studios in Somerville,
these two poets share the experience of their lives as black
men who came of age in large American cities, Baltimore
and Philadelphia. They discuss the music, visual art, and
literature that were influential in their times, from The Temptations
to Grandmaster Flash and Chuck D, from Ron Milner
to Susan Lori Parks, and more. They share intimate moments
in their lives and some of their own work as well as that
of poets they know and admire in an evening setting in the
burgeoning artistic community north of Cambridge to be
recorded in front of the live audience.

The moderator of the event and time of event will be announced…

Contact: Doug Holder: for more information.


  1. Hello,

    I am an African-American poet. Here is a sample of my poetry.

    An Inner City Tale
    (Ode to Cabrini Green)

    Born into a tenement in the heart of the windy city in the summer of sixty-nine,
    Fourth small mouth to be fed and second girl in line.
    A time just after the assassinations of Malcolm, Medgar, JFK, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
    A time when proclamations like "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," were the in thing.
    When Bell-bottomed jeans and afros swayed effortlessly against the wind,
    An era when Motown was king and Stax was In! Our guardians were diligent and always instilled in all of us the need to get ahead
    Stressing that there is strength in numbers and to stick together no matter what was said.
    70' school bells, limited teaching apparatuses and burned out teacher and no recess,
    Escaping boredom, through reading autobiographies always held my interest.
    Benefiting from RIF (Reading is Fundamental) reading Angelou, Hansberry, Morrison, Moody, X and Cruz.
    Discovering and rediscovering, Richard Wright, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes.

    Brown scarred knees from repeatedly falling upon thick blacktop.
    Corner stores, liquors stores, ice cream, pickles, Now-n-laters, barber and beauty shops.
    Loud sounds blaring to break through red glistening project walls,
    Aretha, Chaka, Diana, O'Jays, Jackson, Curtis Mayfield and Lou Rawls.
    Broken elevators, and broken dreams, straightening combs and fade creams.
    Mayoral candidates making mockeries out of project residents by handing out
    V-necks, turkeys, and miniature Christmas trees in exchange for votes.
    Some project residents coming undone and always at each others throats.
    Skateboards, hopscotch, jump rope, Red Light Green Light and Mother May I?
    Young men masquerading as gangsters on street corners, over already-conquered city turf, why?

    Soon childhood laughter is silenced by gunshots and young bodies dropping.
    Caskets, tears, sensing my own mortality at 13, anticipating my own heart stopping.
    Guardians' tenacity paid off in the spring of '83 they rescued me,
    Before our transition out of the ghetto, I noticed young women making spaces in their bellies for little ones,
    completely throwing caution to the wind,
    Yeah, babies having babies starting the cycle all over again.

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