February 2, 2012

Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse

The initial shock of the earthquake has passed but Haiti continues its struggle to overcome both man-made and natural disasters.

Poet Kwame Dawes presents his multimedia exploration of Haiti's earthquake through the lives, and voices, of Haitians confronting the ongoing consequences of this disaster, especially those living with HIV/AIDS.

Event date:
February 6, 2012 - 6:30pm

Performance Venue:

Victor E. Clarke Recital Hall

University of Miami, Florida

Reception to follow
Space is limited, please RSVP by February 1st.


Kwame Dawes (featured poet)
Kevin Simmonds (composer and performer)
Valetta Brinson (soprano)

With the photography of Andre Lambertson

And multimedia by Robin Bell, Nathalie Applewhite and Maura Youngman
Voices of Haiti is a multimedia performance based on poems by Kwame Dawes, set to music by composer Kevin Simmonds. The work grew out of a year-long Pulitzer Center commission to report on Haiti after the earthquake with reporter/poet Kwame Dawes, reporter Lisa Armstrong, and photographer Andre Lambertson. While in Haiti Dawes wrote poems in response to the stories he heard. These poems are at the heart of Voices of Haiti: A Post- Quake Odyssey in Verse. The work explores the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS after the devastating earthquake. It is a celebration of their lives and their survival. The project also encompasses reporting featured in USA Today, The New York Times, The Daily Beast,The Atlantic, and PBS NewsHour. Voices of Haiti premiered at the 2011 National Black Theater Festival in August 2011.

Voices of Haiti premiered at the 2011 National Black Theater Festival.
Learn more about this reporting initiative, After the Quake: HIV/AIDS in Haiti

Watch the featured video poems, set to music.

The Performers:

Kwame Dawes, a Ghanaian-Jamaican writer and poet, is the author of sixteen collections of verse, as well as the Emmy Award-winning, Pulitzer Center-sponsored, Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica, which explores the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. Dawes is also the author of numerous plays, essays and books. He is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the editor-in-chief of Prairie Schooner and a former Distinguished Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina. He is the executive director and founder of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative. He is the director of the University of South Carolina Arts Institute as well and the programming director of the Calabash International Literary Festival, which takes place in Jamaica in May of each year. His most recent work Bloom of Stones: A Tri-lingual Anthology of Haitian Poems After the Earthquake collects the work of more than thirty Haitian poets, many who live in Haiti and others who are part of the large Haitian diaspora.

Kevin Simmonds is a poet, musician and performance artist originally from New Orleans. He has three forthcoming books: the poetry collection Mad for Meat (Salmon Poetry), the edited anthology Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (Sibling Rivalry Press) and the edited collectionOta Benga Under My Mother's Roof (University of South Carolina), by the late poet Carrie Allen McCray-Nickens. His gene-defying short film feti(sh)ame, based on interviews with gay men, premiered at 2011 San Francisco's Frameline Festival and Provincetown International Film Festival. His newest multimedia project ORIENT: a new anthropology, about Asian-Black relations, will debut in San Franciso and Los Angeles in 2012, the twentieth anniversary of the LA Riots.

Valetta Brinson. A native of Memphis, soprano Valetta Brinson has performed in the UK, Japan and throughout the US. She specializes in the music of Bach, Mozart and Strauss and has performed with the Nashville Opera Association, Mississippi Opera Association and Opera Memphis in such productions as Der Rosenkavelier, Madama Butterfly and Gianni Schicchi, Die Zauberflöte and Falstaff. In 2004, she created the role of Coretta Scott King in the opera, The Promise, by composer John Baur. She is currently completing the Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music where she is a Hohenberg-Scheidt Scholar. She received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Morris Brown College and the Master of Arts degree from Middle Tennessee State University. She teaches at Southwest Tennessee Community College.


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