WAMFEST 2012 Features South Africa’s Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, Choreographer Mark Morris, Musician/Author Kristin Hersh and more, starting Tuesday, April 3rd!

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s WAMFEST kicks off its 2012 season on Tuesday, April 3rd with world-renowned dancer, choreographer and director Mark Morris. Morris’s extensive career has brought him from directing at Belgium’s National Opera House to choreographing for the San Francisco Ballet to founding and still running his own company, the Mark Morris Dance Group, in NYC. Join us at 2 pm for a conversation with our dynamic Artist in Residence Wesley Stace. Stace, a celebrated singer/songwriter and novelist, will be hosting all our following events, as well.

WAMFEST continues on Wednesday, April 4th at 2 pm with “Crooked Walks in Space: A Performance and Conversation with Kristin Hersh and Tom Sleigh.”  Hersh, the most influential indie rock star of her generation and author of Rat Girl, and Sleigh, the most celebrated poet of his generation, will explore the space between words and music, sing some songs, chat and improvise. As with Springsteen and Pinsky, this is an historical meeting of two of the most innovative and important artists of our time.

Barbara Froman and P. K. Harmon, prose and poetry winners of the 2011 first book contest sponsored by the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Serving House Books, will be reading at our following event on Thursday, April 5th at 2 pm (they’ll also be participating in a Readin’ N Rhythm event on Sunday, April 1st in Brooklyn, NY). Froman’s novel, Shadows and Ghosts, and Harmon’s poetry collection, What Island, were chosen from more than 300 entries and are available for purchase on Amazon.com. Author Catherine M. Wallace says that Shadows and Ghosts “is a rich and thoroughly satisfying novel, by turns hilarious, poignant, and thought-provoking,” while poet Mark Halliday claims that “…the keynote in Harmon’s vision is an affectionate bemusement which at moments attains to spiritual peacefulness – peaceful yet not sleepy – alert, humorous, ever-ready to discover hope.”

Michael Gray, the world authority on the work of Bob Dylan, will be discussing “Bob Dylan and the Poetry of the Blues” on Tuesday, April 17th at 5:30 pm in Hartman Lounge (located in Hennessy Hall/The Mansion – campus map here). Gray’s history includes interviews with Jimi Hendrix, a stint as Head of Press for U.K.’s label United Artists Records (which produced punk greats like the Buzzcocks and the Stranglers) and published collections on Elvis Presley and Frank Zappa. For those who don’t relish in Dylan’s songs or the history of rock and roll, don’t be turned off!  This conversation is sure to inspire anyone who enjoys and appreciates the poetry of music and the music of poetry.

WAMFEST is honored to present the Poet Laureate of South Africa, Keorapetse ‘Willie’ Kgositsile (pictured), and poet/author David Henderson in a performance and conversation with author Jeffery Renard Allen on Wednesday, April 18th at 3 pm in the Bottle Hill Room (located in the Student Center, Building 17 on the campus map).  Due to his political activism in the ’50s and early 60′s, Kgositsile lived in exile in Manhattan from 1962-75 where he fell in love with the jazz scene. Much like a jazz cat, Kgositsile improvises and riffs on themes throughout his poetry, truly illuminating the similarities between the act of writing a song and the act of writing a poem.  A Harlem native, the incredibly influential biographer and poet Henderson also has an ear for jazz and a gift for incorporating the style into his poetry.  Through decades performing, living in and developing the arts scene in the Lower East Side, Henderson has become famous for his melodic poetry, “lush voice” and captivating reading style.  Celebrated author and FDU professor  Jeffery Renard Allen, whose recent work details the life of piano prodigy Blind Tom, will lead both artists in a discussion with Stace about their experiences, their works and their take on Blind Tom.

This year’s festival will close on Thursday, April 19th with hip-hop superstar Talib Kweli and poet Quincy Troupe, another jazz-head/author with incredible talent and a genuine knack for blending the two forms. Troupe’s publications include the memoir Miles & Me, which details his close friendship with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis, along with an autobiography, poetry collection and handful of children’s books. Kweli, a long-time king of New York’s hip-hop scene, has performed with greats like Mos Def, KRS-One and the Roots.  His unique style, dedication to music and gift with words truly sets him apart.  Both will be performing and participating in a discussion with Stace and Allen at 2 pm in Lenfell Hall, located in Hennessy Hall/The Mansion (campus map here).

All events are free!  Non-students are strongly encouraged to make reservations by emailing wamfest@comcast.net. Check out the schedule here and learn more about the performers here.

WAMFEST would not be possible without the extraordinary generosity of Bob and Patricia Pures.   For more information about our sponsors, please click here.

Written by Becky Fine-Firesheets.

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