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Library spreads the word
Once a week, the Birmingham Public Library hosts “Word Up! Poetry Slam,” a night when high school students and aspiring writers show their talents as word mavens and performers.
April 2012 will mark the event’s fifth anniversary, inspiring a competition among the writers, which lasts through the end of March. The events are produced to inspire teens and young adults through the art of language and performance.
On March 6, “The Art of the Word” series began, featuring M. Ayodele Heath, author of Otherness, a book of poetry released in 2010. His work features traditionally southern images of boyhood and general life in the South. The New England College alum has won the Western Regional Slam twice and has finished in the top ten at the National Poetry Slam. He is an Atlanta native who has performed at the National Black Arts Festival, the Nuyorican Poets Café and the Turner Trumpet Awards, and has been featured in TurnerSouth’s television campaign MySouth Speaks. Some of his poetry can be found on his official website at www.ayospeaks.com.
On March 13 “The Art of the Word” will feature Kevin Young, considered one of the best poets of his generation. His latest book, Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, was released in 2011 and named one of the best books of poetry that year. He received his MFA from Brown University and studied at Harvard with Seamus Haney, the most popular recent translator of the Old English poem Beowulf. Young was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award and was a selected poet for the National Poetry Series.
March 20 will be “My Favorite Poem Night,” in which community members read their favorite poems by famous poets. This event is modeled after an event created by Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, Pinsky received his Master’s and PhD in philosophy from Stanford, where he studied under the poet and critic Yvor Winters.
Irene Latham, poetry editor for the Birmingham Arts Journal, will moderate “My Favorite Poem Night.” Her debut novel, Leaving Gee’s Bend, was awarded the Alabama Library Association’s Children’s Book Award in 2011. She has published over 170 poems in various books and journals, including compiling several books of her own, including What Came Before and The Color of Lost Rooms. The latter was awarded with the Writer’s Digest Self Published Prize for Poetry.
For more information on “Word Up!” or other events sponsored and hosted by the Birmingham Public Library, visit www.bplonline.org.
Senior Staff Writer