Al Young title

Archive for April, 2009


Sunday, April 19th, 2009

November 10, 1933 – April 16, 2009

jim-houston-with-lei-19872 Jim Houston in 1987



Photo: Jana Marcus

Novelist, essayist, biographer, memoirist, journalist, screenwriter, teacher, lecturer, bassist, guitarist


Go to the Santa Cruz Sentinel original

Friends, admirers gather to remember James Houston

SANTA CRUZ — From mournful Scottish bagpipes to a moving Hawaiian chant, the spirit of writer James D. Houston was celebrated Saturday in a remembrance that attracted an estimated 500 people.

Houston, who died at the age of 75 on April 16, was one of Santa Cruz’s most celebrated literary figures and his memorial service reflected the essence of a man who was of Scottish ancestry, with Texas roots and an abiding love for Hawaii, but who was above all a man of California.

Writer and filmmaker Geoffrey Dunn, a close family friend, hosted the memorial that also featured such leading literary lights as novelist Maxine Hong Kingston, Hawaiian musical legend Eddie Kamae and former California poet laureate Al Young.

“We’re here to honor the life of a radiant spirit,” said Dunn in his opening, stressing that the gathering was a “celebration.” In that spirit, many of the attendees came dressed in aloha shirts and other festive flower prints.

Houston’s influence encompassed his work as an author of eight novels and numerous essays and non-fiction books, many of them reflections on California history and culture. He was also a teacher and workshop leader at UC Santa Cruz and several other universities and was a long-time board member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He and his wife, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, lived in the East Cliff Drive house that once belonged to Donner Party survivor Patty Reed.

Santa Cruz arts patron and Houston friend

George Ow Jr. reflected in wonder on Houston’s many blessings, including his three children, his career and his house. “He had it all,” said Ow. Guest speaker Jeannette Paulson is the director of the Hawaiian Film Festival, which was the direct inspiration for the Pacific Rim Film Festival in Santa Cruz, founded by the Houstons and Ow. She remembered her first meeting with the Houstons. “My life was never quite the same after meeting Jim and Jeannie Houston.”

Kamae, the Hawaiian ukulele legend turned documentary filmmaker, collaborated on seven films about Hawaiian life and culture with Jim Houston. He and his wife Myrna flew in from Hawaii; Eddie, his voice croaking with emotion, sang a song called “We’ll See You at Home.”

Music was a central facet of Houston’s life — he earned a living as a guitar teacher and played in a jug band in Santa Cruz in the 1960s. Kamae’s song and the haunting bagpipes of Santa Cruz piper Jay Salter were the only scheduled musical events, but there were impromptu moments as well, as when poet and friend Al Young began singing Hank Williams’s “Hey, Good Lookin’,” adding later of his relationship with Houston, “We loved each other and that doesn’t end.”

Hawaiian chanter Kalae Miles closed the service with a chant titled “A Love Chant for James,” which capped an afternoon of friends, family and admirers trying to express the legacy of a man of wide-ranging passions and interests. Novelist Kingston, who shared the stage with her husband actor Earll Kingston, left the audience with the reminder that Houston’s influence continues.

“Right now, Jim is hearing us,” she said, “and if we listen carefully, we can hear him, too”

© 2009 Santa Cruz Sentinel



for Jim & Jeanie Houston

Take time as lubricant or
time as deterrent, it can
either oil my gears or stop
me right here in my tracks for
snow or grass to cover up.

Green leaves, red leaves, fallen leaves
—a matter of time, distance,
room for change to happen in.
Death’s as much a happening
as birth, a process, a move,
a moving forth always, the
end never in sight except
perhaps to the gifted blind.

How much distance does the heart
cover in one lifetime of
beating? How much love is killed
in its final wising up
to the sad ways of the world?

If I’ve ignored time for months
in order to concentrate
on getting by & basics,
it’s because a light within
me that once flashed red or green
is gradually yellowing,
casually mellowing me
for lifetimes of vigilance.

— Al Young
©1975 and 1992 by Al Young

Composed for good luck in seven-syllable lines for Jim and Jeanne Houston, this poem appears in The Song Turning Back Into Itself, the poet-novelist’s second poetry collection (Holt Rinehart Winston, 1975).



Go to Carolyn Kellogg’s original Jacket Copy reflection at the L.A. Times

Photo: Susan Gilbert
James and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, 1984

Novelist James D. Houston Dies at 75; Explored California in His Works

Known for writing fiction and nonfiction, Houston was considered a leading author in the literature of  the West. “Few writers have more consistently addressed the enduring issues arising out of the California experience than James D. Houston,” said Kevin Starr, historian and author of the seven-volume California Dream series. “He set standards by which the rest of us judged our own efforts.”

“Jim epitomizes what we think of as a California writer,” Alan Soldofsky, head of the creative writing program at San Jose State, where Houston, an alumnus, was recently writer-in-residence. “He had a consummate awareness of place and of the effect of both the natural and human communities on the writer’s psyche living on the edge of the continent.”

Born in San Francisco, Houston attended the city’s high-achieving, ethnically diverse Lowell High School. He went to San Jose State in 1952, where he met Jeanne Wakatsuki; they married in 1957. They moved to England where he served as an information officer with the Air Force. After three years and travels through Europe, they returned to Northern California, where Houston earned a master’s in American literature at Stanford, studying with Wallace Stegner.

His first book was “Between Battles” (1968), a humorous novel about Americans on an Air Force base during the Cold War. His second novel, “Gig” (1969), set in a piano bar on the California coast, established his literary reputation.

He and his wife had been married 15 years before he learned that she had been interned with her family during World War II. “He was my shrink. He helped me get it out,” Wakatsuki Houston said Friday, about the genesis of “Farewell to Manzanar.” “He’d write a draft, I’d write a draft. It was a true collaboration.”

With Jack Hicks, Maxine Hong Kingston and Al Young, Houston edited the omnibus “The Literature of California,” helping to give shape to the idea of a writing tradition unique to the Golden State. He also wrote books about surfing and Hawaiin ukulele legend Eddie Kamae. He was a longtime and well-regarded writing teacher.

His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Carolyn Kellogg

© 2009 L.A. Times


JAZZ, POETRY, AND ALLEN GINSBERG’S SOCKS: Al Young Interviewed by Michelle McEwen

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009



Al Young receives his belated laurel crown from Patrick Hunt, Stanford Professor of Classics © Linda A. Cicero


To view the original context of Michelle McEwen’s interview with Al Young, click here


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jazz, Poetry, & Allen Ginsberg’s Socks: An interview with poet
Al Young

By Michelle McEwen

In 2005, you were appointed Poet Laureate of California by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Muriel Johnson, Director of the California Arts Council, said of this appointment: “Like jazz, Al Young is an original American voice.” How does it feel to be compared to a whole genre of music— especially jazz?

AL YOUNG: It made me feel wonderful to take in Muriel Johnson’s sweeping assessment of me and my work. The spirit of music haunts my writing, and jazz is both centripetal and centrifugal to my poetry. By this I mean that, while jazz and its spirit provides me with a powerful esthetic and cultural center, jazz idiom also needles and nudges me to keep taking leave of dogma and orthodoxy. I was lucky to grow up with music. Many will tell you – and I’ve said it myself – that poetry and music are kissing cousins. Actually, the two are altogether inseparable.

We’re talking about sound of course. The difference between them is that language, unlike music, carries the burden of denotative meaning. It’s the difference between saying a word and sounding a note. In babyhood we rediscover the musicality of poetry. “Hey diddle diddle, / the cat and the fiddle,” the nursery rhyme goes. The recitation of “nonsense” verses thrills us immeasurably. “‘T’was brilling and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe,” sings Lewis Carroll in his beloved Jabberwocky (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Saw There), “All mimsy were the borogroves, / And the mome raths outgrabe.”

Sound and sense are always at odds. Centripetal. Centrifugal. Jazz, I’ll say. In poetry, I can always count on a center from which I’m free to take leave. By the same coinage – the flip-side, as it were – the homebase is always there, welcoming my return. Theme and variation, melody and improvisation – the jazz esthetic makes it all possible. That Muriel Johnson glimpsed and overheard all of this going on in my work still makes me tingle and smile.

And smiling (and tingling) is always a good thing! I agree: poetry and music are kissing cousins; sometimes when I’m reading poetry (not out loud), the reading experience either begs for music or is made more pleasant if I am listening to music— especially jazz. Let’s stay then, for now, on the subject of music. I’ve always wanted to ask a poet this question: there’s a Duke Ellington album titled “A Drum is a Woman.” Is drum a woman?

AL YOUNG: Proponents of E-prime, a mob of language vigilantes who persuasively ride shotgun on the verb to be, could step in here and make a splash. The poet in me automatically begins to re-title this astonishingly artful Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn piece, which is part jazz ballet and part concert. Drum As Woman – that’s how I might’ve renamed it. But, hey, this isn’t what you asked. So here’s what I think the composers intended. While some who know only the music and the evocative title of this work may conclude that these two males saw females as beatable instruments – or, worse yet, as objects – I would rush to point out that “A Drum Is a Woman” always struck me as a spiritualized metaphor for the struggle between time and timelessness; silence and sound; to be or not to be. The pause between beats that defines any rhythm works the same way as background or negative space in a drawing or painting. I could argue that Ellington-Strayhorn arrived at their title to express the idea that women – who may be more closely and consciously attuned to circadian or biological or natural rhythms than men — carry the beat for our species. The seasons, the tides, phases of the moon, dawn and dusk, summer and winter, autumn and spring, the shedding of leaves in fall, spring blossoms, death and rebirth— such eternal verities prompted the title and sub-motif of Dancing, my very first poem collection. As quiet as it’s kept, these cycles continue to drive and inspire not only my poetry, but poetry all over the world. Remember, too, that we not only play and listen to drumbeats; we feel them as vibration.

I’m glad you mentioned your first poem collection Dancing. Can you share with us one of your favorite poems in Dancing? Why?

AL YOUNG: First of all, I must say that, in view of where our planet now stands ethically, “Dancing,” the book’s dark multi-sectioned title poem seems to hold up remarkably. Of course I was channeling, as it were, the prevailing zeitgeist of the late 1960s. So much of United States history, relatively recent history included, gets shredded and buried in the ravages of the 24/7 news cycle. The apocalyptic tone of the title poem contrasts sharply with the overriding optimism and hopefulness that characterizes much of my philosophical and esthetic outlook. For this reason, I would have to say that “Dancing in the Laundromat, or Dust: An Ordinary Song” sticks to me still.

As an ongoing patron of neighborhood laundromats, I became conscious decades ago of the altered state we enter while we’re standing around or sitting in a coin laundry, washing clothes. For one thing, the rhythms and tonal cycles of the machines themselves induce a kind of hypnogogic state. For another thing, we – and here I need to shift persons – that is, I not only begin to look at my own garments as comical, or maybe as serio-comic objects; I see everyone’s clothing and linen from an altered perspective. The most hilarious example of this occurred several years back, when I found myself among a group invited to spend a week at Naropa as guests of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. New York-based poet David Henderson shared a duplex with me. Allen Ginsberg lived down the hall. We all met up one afternoon in the residence hall laundry, where we’d each decided to launder our workshop, leisure and reading-lecture clothes. I had actually gone down to the ludicrously costly organic market to purchase my earth-friendly laundry detergent. Rather than let David and Allen hit the machine-dispensers of unfriendly soap, I shared the good stuff with them. Eventually Allen asked if he could put some of his things into the dryer with mine. David got in on this, too. “Sure,” I said, “that way we’ll save money and energy, too.”

Later that evening – I think it was a summertime Friday – I was standing outside my quarters, talking with David about everything in the universe, which tends to be the cross-referential way he and I always talk. Suddenly Allen, all decked out in Bermuda-like shorts and socks, emerged from his room and approached us. When I saw he was wearing my socks, I lost my cool. “Allen,” I said, “those are my socks you’re wearing. I must’ve folded yours by mistake.” “Yes,” he said, laughing, not missing a beat. “I know, but I like your socks. Do you mind?” And off he stepped to some reading or gathering awaiting his arrival. Allen’s cavalier attitude unsettled me. Eyeing my displeasure, David Henderson said, “I know how you feel, man. You don’t want them gay Jewish socks. You want your Brother socks, right?”

Well, that’s the kind of consciousness visits to laundromats induce in me. Thirty years would pass between the time I composed the poem – around 1968, I think – and the night this sock mix-up would jump out. But the spirit of the poem embodies a continuum that still asks: “What is it we wear that never needs washing? / What is it we wear that never wears.” The other day, carrying out some badly needed spring cleaning, I came across a sealed manila envelope that I’ve clearly identified in Magic Marker ink: ALLEN GINSBERG’S SOCKS. If celebrity fetish capitalism is still around when he matures, my son Michael might be able to sell these socks for fun and profit, as we Americans say. Dust and ordinariness— that’s the poem’s theme. All over the world people love it.

Brother socks! Oh, what a wonderful recollection about the Laundromat! The Laundromat is poetic in itself— the need for quarters, the shoving the clothes in, the heat of the clothes coming out of the dryer, the people just coming in & the people just leaving, the cars out front with their trunks open; there’s a lot of material for poetry there.

Now, speaking of material for poetry, can you send us out with an answer to this question: there is a Langston Hughes poem called Daybreak in Alabama that begins: “When I get to be a composer/I’m gonna write me some music about/daybreak in Alabama…” Is there a place somewhere on earth where daybreak there would inspire you enough to “write [you] some [poetry]” about it?

AL YOUNG: Langston Hughes’ “Daybreak in Alabama” first reached me in the form of a song by pianist-vocalist Bob Dorough. It was 1959. The album was Jazz Canto, a collection of poetry & jazz from Pacific Jazz Records in Los Angeles. I was enrolled at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. We’ve entered the emotional zone of geography. I played the thing over and over again. Dorough, who attracted jazz attention when he sang on two Miles Davis albums, also drew national acclaim from an educational TV show he conducted with bassist Ben Riley: Schoolhouse Rock!

I was always struck by the creative image that Hughes’ poem evokes of using music to transform the traditionally racist, segregationist, Ku Klux Klan-plagued into a setting where black and white people could peaceably and humanely dwell and interact. Some make-over! Such is the magic of poem-making, and such was the genius of Langston Hughes.

As for a place today, where daybreak would inspire me, I would have to say right here where I sit at this moment, which happens to be Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area. It just so happens I’m monitoring (is that a funny word, or what?) a rainy daybreak as it unfolds, shade by shade, black and gray turning blue, sky by sky. I think it was St. Augustine who reminded us that every point in space is God-centered. While this may have seemed quaint and lofty back when he set this down on paper, the digital, screen-haunted world we now inhabit reminds us that what we used to regard as peripheries no longer apply; the center is everywhere. And so is the darkness. That we – human beings, I mean – slaughtered far more than 100 million of our own kind during the 20th century tells us how sick and unconscious our behavior has become planet-wide. And now we’re dead set on killing off the planet itself. I write and speak daily against this staggering ignorance, which still supports an economic system that deems it perfectly OK to steal and sell water, one of life’s essentials, to the poor. Torture, physical and mental, prevails. The trashing of future generations is condoned and taken for granted— and all for what? Money. We’ve even taken to calling money wealth. Wealth is community, health, friendship, creativity, shared love, promise and hope, spiritual unfoldment.

And so it is that I’ll keep on smuggling out my message that human beings are in essence divine, and I’ll do it in the form of poetry, almost making my poems as song-like as I can. How about “Daybreak All Over” as a working title?

© Michelle McEwen



David Henderson |   © Christopher Felver/Corbis


Allen Ginsberg   | Courtesy Photo




Al Young is the author of more than 22 books, including Jazz Idiom: Blueprints, Still and Frames (The Jazz Photography of Charles L. Robinson), Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry, Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006, The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000, and Heaven: Poems 1957-1990. Widely anthologized and translated, his work has carried him throughout the world (Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the whole of the United States), and earned him praise from Jane Hirshfield, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the New York Times. A beloved teacher, Young has taught writing, literature and creativity at Stanford, the University of California at Santa Cruz, San José State University, and the University of Michigan. From 2005 through 2008 he served as poet laureate of California. The Sea, The Sky, And You, And I, his second poetry & jazz CD, came out this year from Bardo Digital. For more information, click here.



Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


Golden State laureate launches
Magic Poetry Bus Project


Visit the Magic Poetry Bus Project website


California poet laureate Carol Muske-Dukes with KCET’s Saul González


Watch or listen to KCET’s SoCal story editor Saul González interview Carol Muske-Dukes on her Magic Poetry Bus Project.



Carol Muske-Dukes
© Laurie Lambrecht


sparrow-bk-cvr-muske-dukes life-after-death

Other books by Carol Muske-Dukes

The California poet laureate’s public calendar


Not resting on her laurels, poet has plans to popularize form | Karen Lindell | Ventura North County Star | April 20, 2009

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in concert with Carol Muske- Dukes | Broad Stage, Santa Monica | April 23, 2009 at 7 pm




Dear Friends,

I’ve recently been appointed Poet Laureate of California and I am charged by the Governor to develop a statewide project , which I’m delighted to announce is now “revving up” —

The project, which is called The Magic Poetry Bus, will be rolling soon!

Aboard the actual “bus” — which we hope to drive out of the garage very soon – will be poets, actors, playwrights and a film-maker, who will travel to public schools, elementary and secondary, and also to juvenile halls, throughout the state of California. Often with a film crew, these creative artists will teach workshops, writing exercises, and have fun with games and riddles.

We’ll also be filming young performing poets and one-on-one and “pop-ups” to be posted on the Mission Imagination Virtual Bus (or website), which will serve as a fuel-ready fun imaginative guide to teaching creative writing and the creative arts.

This manual is an ongoing, constantly “up-dateable” resource for teachers and students — featuring:

* Digital features of poets and actors reading a poem or talking about poetry
* Videos of students learning to write poems or plays in a workshop setting
* Creative writing “exercises”
* Poetry in performance
* Animation
* Games
* Maybe even a “Science & Poetry” feature!

This website will be a “virtual” bus tour of the poetic imagination — with Inspiration Points, Bus Stops, Fast and Slowdown Lanes — inviting teachers and students to grab a seat, and check out the Bus Driver’s Manual of “how to’s,” making the entry into imaginative writing unthreatening and inviting. The format will be dynamic: constantly updated with ideas and feedback from participating kid and grown-up poets, and students of the arts. We will feature an instant-publishing component — a Big Yellow Sign parking space — where participants can “post” their poems, stories, or plays when they are ready to “publish.”

Our board includes former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky, actor John Lithgow, playwright Christopher Durang, author and performance artist Sandra Tsing Loh, singer/songwriter Paul Simon, and many others. We will also be working with other creative arts individuals at organizations like the Get Lit Players, whose teen-age members offer performances in schools, combining classical traditional poetry and performance art; “826”, the immensely successful storefront “kids writing” project founded by Dave Eggers (California, New York, Chicago) and others. Our Arts Advisory Staff includes Stephanie Carrie of The Actors’ Gang, Ali-Reza Nusrat, cinematographer, Diana Arterian and John Muske, arts support specialists and Stewart Grace, web design.

Hop on The Magic Poetry Bus for a tour of the creative imagination — we hope that you’ll stay aboard and even take a magic turn of your own!


Signature Carol Muske-Dukes.

Carol Muske-Dukes,
Poet Laureate, State of California



Monday, April 6th, 2009


Zócalo Public Square Lecture Series

Remembering Charles Mingus

mingus-bowing © Tom Marcello

A Zócalo/City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Event

Moderated by Oscar Garza, Senior Editor, Los Angeles Daily News

Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 7:30 pm

Barnsdall Gallery Theatre
4800 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Free parking in the lot at the bottom of the hill and in parking spaces surrounding the perimeter of the Barnsdall Art Park.
Barnsdall Gallery Theatre

From his first concert piece, written when he was 17, to his expansive, 19-movement, 4,000-measure opus “Epitaph,” Charles Mingus built a remarkable legacy as a jazz bassist, band leader, and composer. His body of work is second only to Duke Ellington’s in size, and arguably matches it in quality, combining innovation with mastery, spontaneity with precise orchestration, tuneful melodies with pulsing rhythms and inimitable flurries of sound. Mingus, who grew up in Watts, was also a teacher to many musicians at his Jazz Workshop, an activist for racial equality, and a performer praised for his passion and lambasted for his temper. Thirty years after his death, Zócalo hosts a panel — featuring music producer Hal Willner, writer Emory Holmes II, and the jazz great’s son Eric Mingus, also a musician — to discuss the life and continuing legacy of the jazz great.

mingus-by-harvey-pekar© Harvey Pekar



CBS News: 16 Veterans Infected by Contaminated VA Hospital Equipment

When Johnny Comes Marching Home: Caring for Veterans

iraqwarcaskets iraq-war-vets-ill-at-ease

Moderated by Jia-Rui Chong, Los Angeles Times Veterans Affairs Reporter

Thursday, April 30, 2009, 7:00 pm

The Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tens of thousands of American soldiers have suffered injuries in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including debilitating head and spine damage, chronic pain, and mental health problems. They return home to a devastatingly overburdened veterans’ healthcare system, plagued by months-long waits for doctors and several times more disability claims than estimated. As the war on terror continues, and as emergency medical care at the front thankfully saves many lives, the country’s young veterans will need better care for years to come. Zócalo hosts a panel of medical and military experts — including Jennifer Sinclair, sister of an Army captain who served in Iraq, Army Major Gen. (Retired) Paul E. Mock, and a doctor from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Long Beach — to discuss how to heal the minds and bodies of returning soldiers.


Please visit www.Zó






Thursday, April 2nd, 2009


View official announcement

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chicago State University

(at 95th and Martin Luther King Drive)



Read about the great Gwendolyn Brooks

Achy Obejas, Willie Perdomo, Colin Channer and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu headline Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival

CHICAGO – From Havana to Harlem, Kingston, Jamaica to Lagos, Nigeria and the Southside of Chicago, the featured writers at the 2009 Gwendolyn Brooks National Poetry Month Festival are some of the world’s foremost voices in the genres of fiction and poetry.

Giants in the literary world, such as Achy Obejas, Major Jackson, Colin Channer, Willie Perdomo and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, will present works at the Brooks National Poetry Month Festival on April 18, 2009, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. on the campus of Chicago State University (95th and Martin Luther King Drive). This one-day series of readings and panel discussions is free and open to the public. The fiction and poetry workshops will cost $70.

For nearly two decades, the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing has produced the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers’ Conference. This year’s conference, which has traditionally occurred in October, was to instead take place in April. Organizers of the conference altered those plans due to the struggling economy. Organizers felt it was important to proceed with a celebration of the literary arts, while honoring the enduring Chicago icon Gwendolyn Brooks.

The guest list is no different from past conferences, in that the best and brightest writers of color will be present. Achy Obejas, already a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and recipient of the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry, is a poet and novelist whose five works have been translated into four languages.

Among the respected voices in poetry, Major Jackson was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poetry collection, Hoops, was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literature – Poetry.

The Washington Post said this about Colin Channer’s seminal novella The Girl with the Golden Shoes: “The Girl with the Golden Shoes is a sparkling gift, the tale of a meager, shoeless, raggedy abandoned Cinderella whose hardships make her all the wiser.” Channer is also the author of five books.

Appearing on poetry programs on Home Box Office (HBO) and Black Entertainment Television networks, Willie Perdomo produced two critically acclaimed works and is considered one of New York City’s finest literary artists. His provocative works have appeared in publications such as the New York Times and BOMB.

CSU English and Creative Writing Professor Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is the 2008 recipient of the vaunted Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. She is the author of two novels.

For more information about the Gwendolyn Brooks National Poetry Month Festival and the other April events at CSU, please contact Tacuma Roeback at 773-995-4440 or at


illinoisarts poetryfoundationlogo