Examining the lyrics of late reggae superstar Bob Marley from a poetic perspective will be just one of the topics of discussion during this year's Fall Arts Celebration Poetry Night, which will bring two internationally acclaimed authors to Grand Valley State University.
“An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Kwame Dawes” will take place Thursday, October 15, at 7 p.m. on the 2nd floor of the Eberhard Center located on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. A book signing and reception will follow the readings.
Born in Ghana in 1962, Dawes spent most of his childhood and early adult life in Jamaica. As a writer of 16 collections of poetry, as well as fiction, nonfiction and plays, Dawes is heavily influenced by the rhythms and textures of songs cherished during his youth, including reggae music. His book, Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius, is currently the most authoritative study of the lyrics of the late musician. His most recent title, Duppy Conqueror (2013), shortlisted for the PEN Open Book Award. Dawes is currently the Glenna Luschei editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska, where he is also Chancellor’s Professor of English. Dawes also serves as a faculty member of Cave Canem and an educator in the master of fine arts program at Pacific University in Oregon.
Nezhukumatathil is the author of three books of poetry: Lucky Fish (2011), At the Drive-In Volcano (2007) and Miracle Fruit (2003). Lucky Fish won the gold medal in poetry for the 2011 Independent Publishers Book Awards, and was featured in The New York Times and on the "PBS NewsHour Art Beat." Her most recent chapbook is Lace & Pyrite, a collaboration of nature poems with poet Ross Gay. Nezhukumatathil is an associate professor of English at the State University of New York in Fredonia.
Patricia Clark, Writing Department chair, said Dawes and Nezhukumatathil personify her "excellence criteria," which she utilizes when choosing authors each year for this event. The criteria consists of crowd engagement, the use of fresh and vibrant language and deep material introspection.
“With poetry, you really want to hear it live. It’s a lot like reading a play. Do you really want to read a play? No, you want to go and see it live on stage,” Clark said. “This is very similar to poetry. You want to hear the poet read his or her work.”
Since its start in 2003, Fall Arts Celebration has featured some of the preeminent writers, poets, musicians, dancers, artists and scholars of today.
All Fall Arts Celebration events are open to the public with free admission. For more information, visit the Fall Arts Celebration website or call (616) 331-2185.