Featured on this Recording:
Intro: Victor L. Davson, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art Executive Director (0:00 - 4:00)
Jim Haba, Founding Director of The Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival (4:20 - 10:05)
Reads "Listen, Friends"
Amina Baraka (10:15 - 21:45)
Reads her series of Freedom Poems
Anne Marie Macari (21:50 - 31:50)
Gerald Stern, National Book Award winner (32:25 - 1:01:35)
Imamu Amiri Baraka, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award winner (1:02:20 - 1:34:30)
About the Event:
On September 6, 2013, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art in Newark hosted the NJ Poet Laureate Family Reading. Amiri Baraka and Gerald Stern shared the staged with their partners Amina Baraka and Anne Marie Macari.
Gerald Stern was appointed NJ Poet Laureate in 2000 and was succeeded by Amiri Baraka in 2002. These two internationally known poets come together at Aljira, after over a decade, with the women who share their lives in poetry to celebrate the proud history of NJ poetry and the position of NJ Poet Laureate.
As founding director of the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Jim Haba worked extensively with Stern and Baraka and was also a member of the committee that nominated them to the Laureateship.
Critically acclaimed artists Stern and Baraka both demonstrated their willingness to challenge cant and hypocrisy wherever it could be found. Unafraid of pursuing political issues in their poems, they share a fierce determination to expose deceit and to promote the search for truth and justice.
Gerald Stern has won most of the major prizes accorded an American poet, including the Ruth Lilly Prize and the Wallace Stevens Award. He has taught at many colleges and universities including Raritan Valley Community College, the University of Iowa, and Princeton. He was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006 and has published more than a dozen books of poems and several books of essays and reflections. Stern lives in Lambertville.
Newark native Amiri Baraka won early national recognition as a poet before exploding onto the theater scene in the mid 1960s with a series of stunning, Obie Award-winning plays. Highly prolific as a poet, novelist, essayist, and short story writer, he is also responsible for an impressive body of work as a music critic and visual artist and art critic. He has taught at many colleges and universities including SUNY Stony Brook, Rutgers, and Yale. In 2001 he was awarded the James Weldon Johnson Medal for his contributions to literature.
Anne Marie Macari continues to teach in the low-residency MFA Program in Poetry and Translation at Drew University, of which she was the founding director. She has published three books of poems. Her second, Gloryland, celebrates the body and the physical world. She lives in Lambertville.
Amina Baraka is a poet, singer, dancer, actress, and activist who, with her husband, leads the word-music ensemble, Blue Ark. Together, they also co-direct Kimako's Blues People, a monthly salon and artspace housed in their Newark basement. Kimako's Blues People opened to the public in the mid-1980s and ran for fifteen years. Together, the couple also founded Spirit House in the 1960s which became a center of the Black Arts Movement and a also center for black cultural creativity and political assertiveness.
In Memorandum: Imamu Amiri Baraka (October 7, 1934-January 9, 2014).
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