Literature Program
 


Thursday, April 1, 2004

Sekou Sundiata

BLESSING THE BOATS

Presented at:
Warren Enters Theatre, Upton Hall, Buffalo State College

Thursday, April 1 • 7:00 P.M.
Righteous Babe Records Recording Artist
Sekou Sundiata
BLESSING THE BOATS
Warren Enters Theatre, Upton Hall, Buffalo State College
Poetry, prose, & monologues chronicle spoken word innovator's life-altering experience as an organ recipient

Internationally recognized poet and musician Sekou Sundiata will perform his solo performance piece, BLESSING THE BOATS, for one show only in the Warren Enters Theatre in Upton Hall of Buffalo State College, as a benefit for Upstate New York Transplant Services (UNYTS). BLESSING THE BOATS tells the story of five tumultuous years of Sundiata's life, as one of over 80,000 people in need of an organ transplant. Righteous Babe founder Ani DiFranco has said, "Sekou Sundiata taught me everything I know about poetry."

BLESSING THE BOATS, poetically and with humor, relates his experience with a life threatening illness, and his recovery thanks to a lifesaving organ transplant. The piece looks broadly at ideas about illness, treatment, recovery, health, personal relationships, art, life, and death in an effort to make some order out of the chaos of a life fundamentally altered by disease.

Born in Harlem, Sundiata came of age as an artist during the Black Arts/Black Aesthetic movement of the 60s and 70s. His poetry is packed with inspiration from musicians, including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Bob Marley. He has been a Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow, a Columbia University Revson Fellow and the first Writer-in-Residence at the New School University. Sundiata was Master Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and is a professor at Eugene Lang College where he produces the Talking Book Festival of Literary Arts.

According to Greg Tate of The Village Voice, "Mr. Sundiata is to contemporary African American poetry what Marvin Gaye was to modern soul--mad social conscience and a verifying love man/sweet talkin' mack daddy. If Homer were a black man born in the projects, he would be this tall, fearsome-looking poet."

Tickets for the performance are $10 and are available by calling UNYTS at (716) 853-6667, ext. 121.

April is National Donate Life Month. Currently, there are more than 82,000 people—approximately 300 in WNY alone—waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Each day, 14 people die while waiting for a transplant. UNYTS is committed to enhancing and saving lives through organ, tissue, and eye donation while maintaining respect for those who give the gift of life. For more information on UNYTS, call (716) 853-6667, ext. 102.

 
 
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Laylah Ali
Paintings and Drawings


Laylah Ali's work explores power dynamics and interpersonal conflict through compositions that position culturally, racially and sexually ambiguous figures in precarious, loaded, and unexpectedly humorous situations. Ali uses concise—even minimal—imagery that is specific in rendering and intent. While there are narratives in Ali's work, they are stories whose open spaces often give them the atmosphere of fables.