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Won’t You Celebrate with Me: Poetry and Prose from the Director’s Chair

June 15, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

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In celebration of poetry and prose, join respective leaders in the literary field Mahogany L. Browne, Dawn Lundy MartinNicole Sealey and Salamishah Tillet, as they share work and engage in a discussion moderated by Cave Canem Interim Board President, Amanda Johnston. Browne is the Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC, and the author of Black Girl Magic (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan, 2018) which has been featured in the PBS NewsHour segment, “Brief But Spectacular.” Johnston is the author of Another Way to Say Enter (Argus House Press, 2017), described by Cave Canem co-founder Toi Derricotte as poems that possess “a beautifully crafted, fierce and compelling voice.” Winner of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a 2018 NEA grant for Creative Writing, Martin’s most recent collection, Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017), is recognized by Barbara Hoffert as “an important work for sophisticated readers.” Cave Canem Executive Director and 2019 Rome Prize Awardee, Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco, 2017), lauded by Claudia Rankine as a “brilliant debut.” Tillet is the Associate Director of the Price Institute at Rutgers University – Newark and author of three books, including Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post–Civil Rights Imagination (Duke University Press, 2012). This event is hosted by the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh (CAAPP) and the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

For tickets, audience members are encouraged to paywhatmakesyouhappy, either in advance or at the door. For questions or concerns please contact Lauren Russell, Assistant Director of CAAPP, at [email protected] or (412) 383-5954.

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer and educator. Currently, the Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC, Browne has received literary fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House and Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke Baby (Roaring Brook Press, 2018); Black Girl Magic (Roaring Brook/Macmillan, 2018), featured in the PBS NewsHour segment, “Brief But Spectacular;” Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books, 2017); Redbone (Aquarius Press, 2015); and Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books, 2010), among many others. Browne is the publisher of Penmanship Books, curator of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Friday Night Slam, founder of the Women Writers of Color Reading Room, and the director of Black Lives Matter at Pratt Institute. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Amanda Johnston was born in East St. Louis, IL and raised in Austin, TX.  She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and has authored two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter (Argus House Press, 2017). Her poetry and interviews have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including CallalooPoetryPuerto del SolMuzzlePluck!No, Dear and the anthologies Small BatchFulldi-ver-cityThe Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. Her honors include the Christina Sergeyevna Award from the Austin International Poetry Festival, a joint finalist for the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism from Split This Rock, and multiple Artist Enrichment grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Johnston is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the Austin Project at the University of Texas. She is a Stonecoast MFA faculty member, co-founder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founder/executive director of Torch Literary Arts. She serves on the Cave Canem Foundation board of directors as the interim board president and currently lives in Texas.

Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist and conceptual-video artist. Recipient of a 2018 NEA grant for Creative Writing, she is the author of four books of poems: Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House, 2017), winner of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books, 2015), winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry; DISCIPLINE (Nightboat Books, 2011), which was selected by Fanny Howe for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press, 2007), winner of the 2006 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, Harper’s and elsewhere. In 2016, Martin co-founded, with poet Terrance Hayes, the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) at the University of Pittsburgh, where she serves as the center’s director. With Vivien Labaton, Martin also co-edited The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism (Anchor Books, 2004), and co-founded the Third Wave Foundation and Black Took Collective. Martin is Professor of English in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida. Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco, 2017), finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (Northwestern Uni. Press, 2016), winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors include a 2019 Rome Prize from The American Academy in Rome, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, the Poetry International Prize and a Daniel Varoujan Award. Sealey has received grants from the Elizabeth George and Jerome Foundations, as well as fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, Cave Canem, MacDowell Colony and the Poetry Project. Recently named a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, Sealey is also the executive director at Cave Canem Foundation, a visiting professor at Boston University and the 2018-2019 Doris Lippman Visiting Poet at The City College of New York.

Salamishah Tillet is the Henry Rutgers Professor of African American and African Studies and Creative Writing and Associate Director of the Price Institute at Rutgers University – Newark and the Founding Director of the New Arts Justice Initiative at Express Newark. Tillet is a regular opinion writer and culture critic for The New York Times. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in Post-Civil Rights America (Duke University Press, 2012), In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker’s Masterpiece (Abrams Press, 2019) and All The Rage: ‘Mississippi Goddam’ and the World Nina Simone Made (forthcoming).  In 2003, she and her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, co-founded A Long Walk Home, a Chicago-based nonprofit that uses art to empower young people to end violence against all girls and women, and she is the subject and writer of the “Story of A Rape Survivor” multimedia performance.


June 15, 2019
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
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Kelly Strayhorn Theater
5941 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206 United States
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