Asili is the seed, or essence, of a culture. It is the collective spirit of a group of human beings who are either related by blood or through shared experiences. In this instance, the experience applies to a three-day poetry gathering better known as Asili Nights.
Presented by Miami Dade College (MDC), the InterAmerican Campus’s School of Education in collaboration with Barcardi, the events will feature four award-winning authors and poets in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Asili: The Journal of Multicultural Heartspeak. Both the literary magazine and annual poetry event were founded by MDC professor Joseph McNair.
The celebration will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, during the 2007 Miami Book Fair International Write Out Loud program at MDC’s Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. Second Ave., between Fourth and Fifth Streets. The four guest poets – Reginald Lockett, Devorah Major, Eugene B. Redmond and Al Young – will be joined by local poets who regularly contribute to the Asili journal for a “One Poem Round Robin.”
"We revel in the fact that such illustrious Poet Laureates will grace our institution and enrich our students, faculty and the community,” said North Campus President José Vicente. “The North Campus has been the convener of Asili Night at the College for three years now, and we look forward to yet another presentation of excellence in poetry and the spoken word".
Additional readings by the guest poets will explore the themes of love, death, spirit, self-transcendence, and sex at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Tower Theater, Cinema One, 1508 S.W. 8th Street and at 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at MDC’s North Campus, 11380 N.W. 27 Ave., Room 2147.
This year, legendary Oakland, California poet, Reginald Lockett will make his second appearance at Asili Nights. He is the author of Random History Lessons, Good Times & No Bread, The Party Crasher of Paradise and Where the Birds Sing Bass, which won a PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 1996. His poetry, articles, and reviews have been published in over fifty anthologies, periodicals, and textbooks. He has a new volume, Bro. Radio, which is scheduled to be published in 2008. In addition to writing, Lockett teaches at San Jose City College and performs with the WordWind Chorus in Oakland, Calif., where he lives. He is a contributing editor for Asili.
Devorah Major, the former Poet laureate of San Francisco, California (2002-2004), received the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence in 1997 for Street Smarts and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association First Novelist award in 1996 for An Open Weave. She is also the author of Brown Glass Windows, Where River Meets Ocean and With More Than Tongue. Major has taught poetry and creative writing as a community artist-in-residence and college lecturer for more than 20 years. She also publishes, records, and performs with Opal Palmer Adisa in the performance poetry group Daughters of Yam and has been a featured poet on six CD albums.
Eugene B. Redmond, the Poet Laureate of East St. Louis, Illinois, has been called “the preacher of poetic rhythm” by Maya Angelou. His collection of poetry includes River of Bones and Flesh and Blood, Songs from an Afrophone, In a Time of Rain and Desire: New Love Poems, and The Eye in the Ceiling. Additionally, he is the author of Drumvoices: The Mission of African American Poetry: A Critical History and founding editor of Drumvoices Review: A Confluence of Literary, Cultural and Vision Arts. His photo exhibit, Visualizing Black Writers: An Extra-literary Exhibit from the Eugene B. Redmond Collection, is currently touring the world, including the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He is a contributing editor for Asili.
Al Young, The Poet laureate of California, is a poet, novelist, author of musical memoirs, and a pioneer of the Black Arts and Post Black Arts movement period. His book Bodies and Soul: Musical Memoirs earned him the American Book Award. Other works include Heaven: Collected Poems, 1956-90, The Blues Don’t Change: New and Selected Poems, Geography of the Near Past, Some Recent Fiction, The Song Turning Back into Itself, and Dancing: Poems, which won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award. Young is also a contributing editor for Asili.
The 3rd Annual Asili Nights
Monday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. Miami Book Fair International Write Out Loud tent, 300 N.E. Second Ave., between Fourth and Fifth Streets.
Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. The Tower Theater, Cinema 1, 1508 SW Eight Street.
Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 5:40 p.m. MDC North Campus, 11380 N.W. 27th Ave., Room 2147.
WHY:A celebration of cultural diversity and community education.
For additional event information, please contact: Professor Joe McNair, School of Education, 305- 237-8485 or 305-450-9042.
Asili the Journal of Multicultural Heartspeak is 10 years old.