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Legacy Conversations: Chris Abani & Kelly Norman Ellis
July 11, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm| Free
Join us for an evening of conversation between literary lights Chris Abani and Kelly Norman Ellis. Abani is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sanctificum, a nominee for the Griffin Poetry Prize; six novels, including Graceland, winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize; and is a member of the editorial board for the African Poetry Book Fund. Ellis, a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, is the author of Tougaloo Blues (Third World Press, 2003) and Offerings of Desire (Willow Books, 2012), which Nikky Finney calls “so rich with black zest and drylongso that each page sets high our thirst for all that is human, longed for and inexplicable.” Fellow CM Burroughs will moderate the conversation. Free and open to the public. Refreshments served.
Chris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he grew up in Afikpo, Nigeria, received a BA in English from Imo State University, Nigeria, an MA in English, Gender and Culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award. His fiction includes The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), Song For Night (Akashic, 2007), and The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007). His poetry collections include Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), and Feed Me The Sun – Collected Long Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2010). His critical and personal essays have been featured in books on art and photography, as well as in Witness, Parkett, The New York Times, O Magazine, and Bomb. Through his TED Talks, public speaking and essays, Abani is known as an international voice on humanitarianism, art, ethics, and our shared political responsibility.
Kelly Norman Ellis is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Chicago State University. She is Chairperson of the department of English, Foreign Languages and Literatures and the director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at CSU. She is a poet whose work has appeared in Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry; Spirit and Flame; Boomer Girls; Essence Magazine; Obsidian; Calyx; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South; PMS: Poem, Memoir, Story; Sou’wester; Crab Orchard Review; Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing; and Of Poetry and Protest: Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin. Her first collection of poetry Tougaloo Blues was published by Third World Press in 2003. She is co-editor with M.L. Hunter of Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS (Third World Press) and her second collection of poetry, Offerings of Desire (Willow Books), was published in 2012. That same year Essence Magazine voted her one of their 40 favorite poets. She lives on Chicago’s southside with her partner Kevin and their daughter Naomi Zora.