Literature Program
 


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Co-sponsored/co-presented by:
Earth's Daughters

Celeste Lawson & Barbara Holender

GRAY HAIR READING SERIES

Presented at:
Hallwalls

The Gray Hair Series of monthly readings—co-sponsored by Hallwalls and Just Buffalo—spotlights primarily local—or formerly local—writers who have contributed to the literary life of Buffalo and Western New York for decades. This reading by Celeste Lawson (and a second poet to be announced) inaugurates the second season of this popular monthly series.

Celeste Lawson came to the world of poetry following her life as a dancer and choreographer, experiences that contribute to the texture and tone of her writing. For three consecutive years, 1987-1989, she received individual artist grants to support her work in the re-creation of ancient dances rooted in the traditions of North Africa and the Middle East as part of a special dance project in WNY. She also taught dance for several years at UB's Millard Fillmore College.

In 1997 Celeste published a collection of poems entitled I Was Born This Way, a reflection on her encounters with women from around the world when she traveled as a WNY delegate to the United Nations/NGO Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995.

That same year, the Urban Libraries Foundation, the American Academy of Poets, and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library—in honor of National Poetry Month and National Libraries week—recognized Celeste as Erie County's poet of the month. As part of that celebration she gave a reading at the Library's "Ring of Knowledge," accompanied by the legendary pianist, Al Tinney, bassist Rodney Appleby, and drummer Abdul Rachman. She considers that reading her most joyous artistic moment in her life so far.

Another fun partnership with the Public Library includes her service as one of judges for the International Mark Twain Writing Competition sponsored by Norton Publishers, for the recently discovered and unfinished work of Mark Twain, "A Murder, A Mystery and a Marriage."

Other events she considers high points in her artistic life include her contribution to El Museo's 10th-Anniversary catalogue on the work of William Y. Cooper, our community's premiere African-American visual artist; and when she was invited to read work by U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, accompanied by original music composed and performed by students from the Williamsville High School orchestra, as part of their annual county-wide celebration of literature, music, and dance held in Kleinhans Music Hall.

For two years she served as the judge for the Canisius College Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. faculty/student poetry contest, and in 2006 was a guest reader in the Harlem Book Fair, now known as the WNY Book Fair. Twice a year Celeste gives poetry workshops to junior high and high school students as part the NCCJ "Anytown" retreat for youth development held at St. Bonaventure University.

Over the years Celeste has been an anchor poet in readings sponsored by Just Buffalo, the Screening Room, the Center for Inquiry, and other community groups. She has had poems, essays, and articles published in the Buffalo News, Artvoice, Buffalo Beat, Her Magazine, Earth's Daughters, and other regional publications. Currently she is a columnist with After50 News, a WNY monthly newspaper with a circulation of 60,000. She has been part of the Women of the Crooked Circle poetry group, and of the recently formed Pearls, a small group of poets writing under the tutelage of poet/professor, Jimmie Margaret Gilliam.

Earth's Daughters magazine, the oldest continuously published feminist literary arts periodical in the U.S., is currently celebrating its 37th year. Publication of Earth's Daughters magazine is made possible by a NYSCA Decentralization grant from the Arts Council in Buffalo & Erie County.


Some publications related to this event:
September, 2007 - 2007

 
 
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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.