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Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
Countee Cullen (1925)
In this Los Angeles segment of the Poetry Society of America’s 2013 national series, three distinguished poets will celebrate the lives and poetry of major 20th century figures— James Weldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, and Gwendolyn Brooks-—discussing their influence, and reading poems of their own in tribute.
Wanda Coleman was born in Watts and raised in South Central Los Angeles and has lived in California from San Francisco to the Mexican border. The author of 18 books of poetry and prose, she is featured inWriting Los Angeles and Black California. Coleman is an Emmy-winning scriptwriter and former columnist for Los Angeles Times Magazine. Her honors include Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and a 2004 C.O.L.A. Fellowship in literature from the Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles. Her most recent books include Ostinato Vamps; The Riot Inside Me: Trials & Tremors; Jazz & Twelve O'Clock Tales and a new collection of poems, The World Falls Away.
Major Jackson is an American poet, professor and the author of three collections of poetry: Holding Company, Hoops, Leaving Saturn, which won the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for a National Book Critics Award Circle. He served as a creative arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts-Lowell. He currently serves as the Poetry Editor of the Harvard Review and is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont and is a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars.
Brighde Mullins is a poet and playwright, whose works include The Bourgeois Pig; Monkey in the Middle; Fire Eater; and many others. She received a Guggenheim Award in 2012, and has also won awards from United States Artists, the NEA and the Whiting Foundation for her plays. She teaches in and runs the Master of Professional Writing (MPW) a multi-genre graduate creative writing program at the University of Southern California.
Alice Quinn is Executive Director of the Poetry Society of Americaand an adjunct professor at Columbia University's graduate School of the Arts. She was poetry editor at The New Yorker from 1987-2007 and at Alfred A. Knopf from 1976-1986. She is the editor of Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragmentsby Elizabeth Bishop. Her articles on and interviews with writers, poets, and artists have appeared in Artforum, the Canadian National Post, The Forward, Poetry Ireland, The New Yorker, and The New Yorker Online. She is currently editing the journals and notebooks of Elizabeth Bishop.