EBR Writers Club Honoring Past Women Trustrees: Weathers, Walker Alexander, Angelou, Brooks, and Teer
East St. Louis, IL--Dr. Lena Jane Weathers (1930-2017), who was a lifelong resident of East St. Louis and an invaluable leader and patron of the community, will be honored along with four more late women trustees of the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
The free event, held in honor of Women's History Month 2017, will take place 6 PM in Room 2083 of Building “B” on the East St. Louis Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (ESL SIUE) Higher Education Campus, 601 J.R. Thompson Drive 62201.
Other trustee-honorees are poet-novelist-scholar Margaret Walker Alexander (1915-1998); poet-autobiographer-actress-filmmaker Maya Angelou (1928-2014); Pulitzer Prize-winning former Illinois Poet Laureate and novelist Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000); and ESL native daughter Barbara Ann Teer (1937-2008), founder of the National Black Theatre of Harlem.
June 17, 2017 will mark the centennial of the birth of Brooks. She and Walker Alexander, whose centennial was observed in 2015, are often associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
EBR Writers Club History
Founded in 1986, the Writers Club turned 30 in 2016. Writer Henry Lee Dumas (a.k.a. Henry Dumas, 1934-1968), for whom Eugene B. Redmond has served as literary executor for the past 48 years, is the Club's patron saint.
Members of its Soular Systems Ensemble—Roscoe “Ros” Crenshaw, Salim Kenyatta, Charlois Lumpkin (Mali Newman), Darlene Roy (Club prez), and Jaye Willis—will perform “kwansabas” in honor of the trustees. The program will also feature special guests and an art/photo exhibit.
Current Club trustees include: Avery Brooks, Haki R. Madhubuti, Walter Mosley, Quincy Troupe, and Jerry W. Ward, Jr. Among other deceased trustees are: Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) and Raymond R. Patterson (1929-2002).
In addition to having appeared here as guests of the Club, trustees also served on the editorial board of Drumvoices Revue, a literary-cultural journal formerly co-published by the Club and SIUE's English Department.
Creation of the Kwansaba
One of the Club's signature inventions is the “kwansaba,” a poem of “sevens”--seven lines, seven words per line, with each word having no more than seven letters. Exceptions to the seven-letter rule are foreign terms, proper nouns and quoted words or passages.
Of the trustees, Dr. Weathers and Dr. Ward have written kwansabas. Others have been the subject of special issues of Drumvoices where they were honored with kwansabas.
Hundreds of examples of the form appear in Drumvoices and dozens of other publications. In the past couple of years alone, three volumes of poetry--by Tara Betts, Treasure Shields Redmond, and Darlene Roy—have been devoted wholly or in part to the kwansaba.
For information about the March 21 program or the Club: call 618 650-3991; write EBR Writers Club at P.O. Box 6165, ESL, IL 62201; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Press Release courtesy of EBR Writers Group
Cover for a proposed book of quotations by Aberjhani.
The idea of a book of quotations by Aberjhani, a notion which has been floating around even before excerpts from his work started taking on a life of their own all across the Internet on sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter, may be on its way to becoming a published reality.
It started initially with responses to his early commentaries on different writers’ posts on AuthorsDen and at Creative Thinkers International. The idea remained mostly an interesting possibility until 2012. That was when the rate of circulated excerpts began increasing weekly and various readers and micro-bloggers expressed a decisive preference for access to themed work in this format.
Blog forum discussions and an increasing number of websites featuring full pages of quotations by the author indicate the time has arrived to make available a pocket-sized book with a more substantial collection than what is currently presented on the Internet. In addition, a number of individuals celebrated as much for their humanitarian outlook as for their cultural artistry have demonstrated the inspirational and educational value of such quotes in the digital age.
Providing a comprehensive collection in book form––drawing from works in nearly every literary genre––represents a logical step forward that could easily benefit readers, booksellers, libraries, and schools. At this point, a publisher for the proposed volume has not been confirmed but the possibility of an author-published collection should probably not be ruled out either.
Most formal reviews or critiques of books by Aberjhani currently exist in the form of hard-copy newspaper, journal, and magazine articles from the previous decade. A change of formats, however, has gotten underway with recent online posts of reviews focused on some of his earlier work as well as more recent titles.
One notable update is Education Book Mix’s video review of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance posted on YouTube. The automated voice sounds jagged at moments but the year 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance and the review on Education Book Mix underscores the book’s importance.
As Noted on Goodreads
Canadian Richard Van Holst, writing on the Goodreads author and readers community website, posted recent reviews of both Aberjhani’s first book, I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, and his more recent popular title, The River of Winged Dreams. While Goodreads boasts than several million members, many of whom often post reviews, Van Holst happens to be among the site’s top 10 best reviewers.
In the review of I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, he described the collection of short fiction and poetry as “brash, bold and daring.” He further notes in the same review that “Aberjhani's vivid style makes a powerful impression. But more importantly, he writes as one who is aware of where he comes from and of his function as a writer.”
Van Holst’s reading of The River of Winged Dreams came after I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, prompting the this response: “They are both intense and packed with meaning. There is still a sense of being mystically connected to nature. The spirituality is still rooted in body, time, place and family, but manages to transcend them.”
Much of the author’s observations are consistent with various online responses to single poems, stories, and articles by Aberjhani posted on the Internet. The following are links to the full reviews:
Richard Van Holst Review of I Made My Boy Out of Poetry
Richard Van Holst Review of The River of Winged Dreams