We’re pleased to welcome poet and performer Jahman Hill to ASFA-CW for a “mini-residency” in October. On Oct 14, he’ll perform his acclaimed one-man show, “Black Enough,” for our students in the ASFA Lecture Hall. Then on the two following Mondays (Oct 21 + Oct 28), he’ll conduct master classes for our students in writing poetry for performance. We can’t wait to see what the students create under the tutelage of an artist and educator as multi-talented as Jahman!
For posterity (and/or if you weren’t lucky enough to be in attendance for last week’s “My Favorite Poem” event at ASFA), here’s a list of our readers and the poems/poets they favored — with links! Thanks so much to all the participants…
Anna Butcher (Hoover) | ASFA-CW Senior
- “Forest Fires” by Sarah Kay (see above)
Ben Allen (Vestavia) | Pharmacist
Beverly Radford (Cook Springs) | Retired Educator
- “Allison Beals and Her 25 Eels” + “Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein
Andrew Brown (Vestavia) | Actor/Comedian
Lauren-Elizabeth Dewberry (Pell City) | ASFA-CW Senior
Judy Jones (Highland Park) | Retired Banker
Brielle Morrow (Montgomery) | BTW-CW Senior
Linda Williams (Fairfield) | Banker
Murray Vella (Homewood) | Nanny
J.D. Peppers (Crestwood) | Stylist
- “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” by Melissa Webb
Lee Gaines (Montgomery) | BTW-CW Sophomore
- “What You Should Eat Before Reading the Poem” by Richard Hague
Lisa Oestreich (Downtown Birmingham) | Physician
Jack Royer (Mountain Brook) | News Anchor (CBS 42)
It’s that time of year again:
ASFA-CW and the Birmingham Arts Journal are teaming up for our fourteenth annual My Favorite Poem community reading on Fri Sep 28 at 7 p.m. in the ASFA Lecture Hall! Here’s a highly shareable link to the Facebook event page:
And this year there’s an important philanthropic twist:
The Booker T Washington magnet school for the arts in Montgomery burned down last month. They lost much of their campus, the library, and a great deal of expensive Visual Arts and Media Arts equipment/supplies. They’ve been displaced to a dormant elementary school, and they’re trying to salvage this school year as they recover/rebuild for the future.
All that’s to say: we’ve invited the BTW-CW students to join us at the MFP event. Eleven students, three parents, and the chair of the CW department (Foster Dickson) will attend; two of their students will join the group of readers, and we’re going to set up a Poem-on-Demand donation table in the lobby during the reception.
All that’s to say: poetry’s always a great cause, but this year we’ve doubled down on great causes. Here’s a link to the BTW Foundation board’s web site for fire-related donations, but the most direct way for folks in the BHM metro to show their support – especially for the BTW writers — is to attend the MFP event at ASFA later this month!
It was a great day to be a poet at Princeton Elementary in Birmingham today! Poets Jacqueline Allen Trimble and A. H. Jerriod Avant visited the Princeton fifth graders to help them celebrate National Poetry Month and, more importantly, to help them hear the music of their everyday lives and put it into words. Thanks to Ms. Clancy and Ms. Mack and to the entire school community at Princeton for their time, their energy, and for their support!
We’re pleased to again join forces with the Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series and the Desert Island Supply Company (with an able culinary assist from the good folks at Church Street) to host “Writers on the Mic” this month. Here’s the deets:
- Who: Sheree Renée Thomas | Jenny Sadre-Orafai | Robert Collins [Scroll down below the break for more about these fine writers, including bio material and related links…]
- What: Poetry! Fiction (speculative and otherwise)! Hybridity! Books! (And music and food and drink, oh my!)
- When: Thursday – Feb 8 |Doors – 7 pm | Show starts at 7:30 pm
- Where: DISCO | 5500 1st Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35212
- Why: Because art saves the world. Every time. But don’t take our word for it: just ask the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Humanities Foundation, who have generously supported this program for precisely that reason.
Thursday is wall-to-wall visiting writers in and around ASFA-CW! Here’s the scoop:
First up, poet Joel Brouwer will be visiting ASFA during the day to read from his latest book, Off Message, and to talk about his passion for photography and how it informs his work. Joel is chair of the English department at the University of Alabama and he teaches in the Program in Creative Writing there.
That’s plenty to get excited about, but, at that point, the fun will just be getting started.
We’re also co-sponsoring an event tomorrow night at the Desert Island Supply Company (DISCO) in Woodlawn. Joel will join poets Kristin Robertson (whose new book, Surgical Wing, is out this year from the prestigious poetry press, Alice James Books) and Rajiv Mohabir (another great young poet who just joined the English department faculty at Auburn and whose most recent book, The Cowherd’s Son, won the Kundiman Prize and was released this past May by Tupelo Press). Doors at DISCO will open at 7 p.m., and the reading will start at 7:30 p.m. Coffee and noshes will be served, courtesy of Church Street, and the reading is free as free can be.
What’s the source of all this poetry largesse? (We’re so glad you asked!) We’re combining the forces and resources of ASFA-CW’s Ron Casey Visiting Writers Series with those of the fine folks at DISCO and at the Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series, which is run by the inimitable Katherine Webb and Russell Hehn (along with ASFA-CW’s very own Ashley Jones). The aim is to bring even more great writers and writing-based outreach to the Birmingham metro area than we could on our own, and we’re so excited to acknowledge that the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Humanities Foundation have provided generous support to help us make that happen.
Thursday’s activities will mark the official inauguration of our partnership. There’s more where this came from, so stay tuned for info about upcoming events in this series. Suffice it to say, we’re stoked about all of it, and we really hope you’ll join us at DISCO on Thursday night!
This week, ASFA-CW’s Ashley M. Jones is one of sixteen Bash Fellows taking part in The Conversation, a three-state (MS, AL, LA) tour of readings and workshops dedicated to examining and expanding notions of Diasporic Blackness for young writers in the American South and beyond. All week, she’ll be engaging her ASFA-CW students from afar, filing field reports, exhorting them to engage some of the concepts she’s considering during the fellowship, and we thought it would be fun to let the outside world in on that exchange. Here’s Ashley’s missive from the second day of the journey. Ever and always the writing teacher, she offers up a few evocative writing prompts (some of her own devising and some from her fellow Bash Fellows) for her students back at the ASFA-CW ranch.
Here at ASFA-CW, we have some impressive faculty members (if we do say so ourselves). They teach, they write, they engage the world in interesting ways.
Case in point: Kwoya Fagin Maples.
Among many other contributions to our department, Kwoya’s been the driving force behind our 3-D Poetry initiative — a project that allows our students to blend poetry and visual art, and to exhibit their work in local art galleries. It’s been a boon to our students’ understanding of their own creative processes, and the work they’ve produced has been a big hit with gallery-goers.
Kwoya’s own creative projects are really taking off right now, as well. She recently organized a successful poetry marathon and protest at the monument to J. Marion Sims outside the Columbia, S.C., capitol building. Sims — known as the “father of modern gynecology” — conducted experimental surgeries on enslaved women in the antebellum South, without anesthesia or their consent. Kwoya’s new manuscript, a collection of poems that seeks to give voice to the women themselves, was recently a finalist for the prestigious AWP Prize (among other accolades its already received
prior to its publication) and will be published in the fall of 2018 by the University Press of Kentucky!
We recently volleyed a few questions back and forth (cuz that’s what poets do) — about Kwoya’s work and her creative process, about the role of poetry in contemporary society, and about how the personal always seems to find its roundabout way into the poetical (political, historical…). Here’s the transcript: Continue reading
ASFA-CW faculty member Kwoya Maples is a force majeure. To wit: she reads (above) her poem, “I Took the Wind Back,” and (here) a link to a new poem of hers — “This Poem Will Resist with Joy” — just out in Open Letters Monthly: an Arts and Literature Review. And if you’re in the Lexington, KY area at the tail end of this month, she’ll be reading at Centre College.