|Poet Afaa Michael Weaver|
Catching Up With Somerville Poet Afaa Michael Weaver
By Doug Holder
In late April the flames in the fireplace in the back of the Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square no longer burn. But poet Afaa Michael Weaver’s flame is very much in view. He joined me at my usual table near the fireplace, a makeshift office with a comfortable disarray of students' essays, newspapers, and the discarded skins of whitefish on my plate that once adorned my morning bagel. It has been a while since we had a chance to talk as he has been in a whirlwind of activity as of late.
Weaver, a poet, playwright and a Professor at Simmons College in Boston has recently won the the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Award for poetry that comes with a purse of a 100,000 dollars. Big money in the poetry biz and according to the noted poet Chase Twichell (And judge of the award) well deserved. Twitchell wrote:
" The Kingsley Tufts Award is one of the most prestigious prizes a poet can win, and I am delighted to see it go to Afaa... He essentially invented himself from whole cloth as a poet. It is truly remarkable."
The poetry collection that grabbed the eye of the prize was The Government of Nature ( UPITT) The poems, according to Weaver, deal with: "...the recovery of childhood trauma in the context of Chinese spiritualism, merged with my own Christian upbringing."
Weaver has a few other things on his plate as well. Professor Enzo Surin, a colleague of mine at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, has started a small publishing press the Central Square Press. He will be publishing a collection by Weaver titled: A Hard Summation. It will contain 13 poems that span African-American history from slavery to contemporary times.
Weaver has also finished his final draft of his play GRIP. This is a two act play set in Baltimore( Weaver is a native son of Baltimore) in the year 2000. The play is a family drama that deals with a number of themes including: urban revitalization, the haunted past of a grandfather, race, class and gender. Weaver, years ago, studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel. ( How I learned to Drive) at Brown University. At Brown he not only honed his poetic skills but his play writing ones as well.
Finally Weaver will have a new poetry collection coming out titled: City of Eternal Spring (UPitt) with a striking front cover by the African-American artist Romare Bearden.
Weaver left the café, with the lumbering gait of a big man and probably headed back to his humble apartment that he refers to as The Cave on Highland Ave. And undoubtedly in his dark and cloistered corner of the world he will be hatching his next creative plot…and that’s the way it is in the Paris of New England.