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First Books: Cheswayo Mphanza and Afaa Michael Weaver
March 24, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFree
Cheswayo Mphanza discusses his recent debut, The Rinehart Frames, with Afaa Michael Weaver, who reflects on his own first book, Water Song (1985). In partnership with Bowery Poetry.
Cheswayo Mphanza was born in Lusaka, Zambia and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His work has been featured in the New England Review, The Paris Review, Hampden-Sydney Review, Lolwe, Birdfeast, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Callaloo, Cave Canem, and Columbia University. A finalist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize, a recipient of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, and winner of the 2020 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest, his debut collection The Rinehart Frames (University of Nebraska Press), winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, is forthcoming March 2021. He earned his MFA from Rutgers-Newark.
Afaa M. Weaver (尉雅風) was born in 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, where he spent fifteen years (1970-85) working in factories and developing himself as a poet, editor, and freelance journalist. Near the end of that period, he received a 1985 NEA in poetry. He completed his B.A. from Regents College in 1986, and in 1987 his M.A in Creative Writing at Brown University. He has published fifteen books of poetry, the most recent of which is Spirit Boxing. From 1997 to 2001, he was the editor of Obsidian III. His awards include the 1993 PDI playwriting award, multiple Pushcarts, a 2002 Fulbright at National Taiwan University, the Beijing Writers’ Gold Friendship medal in 2005, the 2014 Kingsley Tufts, the 2015 Phyllis Wheatley award, and a 2017 Guggenheim. In 2019, Afaa was given two lifetime achievement awards, from the St. Botolph Club Foundation in Boston and in Taiwan the 96th National Medal in Art & Literature. His poetry has been translated into Arabic and Chinese. Afaa is a lifelong student of Chinese language and culture. In 2017, he retired from Simmons University, after twenty years holding the Alumnae Endowed Chair. He now teaches at Sarah Lawrence.