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29th Celebration of African American Poets Their Poetry

Saturday, February 2, 2019
1:00 - 4:00 pm
West Oakland Branch Library
1801 Adeline Street, Oakland

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Dear Poets, Writers, Artists, Performers, and Community Members,

The West Oakland Branch Library, in coordination with Ms. Wanda Sabir, college professor, long-term library supporter, and founder of this event, invite you to the 29th Celebration of African American Poets Their Poetry. This program will take place from 1 pm – 4 pm on Saturday, February 2, 2019, in the West Oakland Branch Library’s Multi-Purpose Room.  In the tradition of this event, community members of all ages are invited to participate by reading poetry, performing, dancing or/and displaying works of art.  Artwork displayed by local artists always adds an important, interesting and colorful element to this celebration.

We especially encourage all hidden and “closeted” poets who have not read in public before to come and read.  Often such writings can be among the most moving works shared.

Although we welcome all themes, this year we encourage writers and artists to consider our overall theme: Black Migrations. It is the 2019 theme for Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Association for the Study of African American Life and History (EST 1915).

“ASALH’s 2019 theme Black Migrations emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities. While inclusive of earlier centuries, this theme focuses especially on the twentieth century through today. Beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century, African American migration patterns included relocation from southern farms to southern cities; from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West; from the Caribbean to US cities as well as to migrant labor farms; and the emigration of noted African Americans to Africa and to European cities, such as Paris and London, after the end of World War I and World War II.  Such migrations resulted in a more diverse and stratified interracial and intra-racial urban population amid a changing social milieu, such as the rise of the Garvey movement in New York, Detroit, and New Orleans; the emergence of both black industrial workers and black entrepreneurs; the growing number and variety of urban churches and new religions; new music forms like ragtime, blues, and jazz; white backlash as in the Red Summer of 1919; the blossoming of visual and literary arts, as in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Paris in the 1910s and 1920s. The theme Black Migrations equally lends itself to the exploration of the century’s later decades from spatial and social perspectives, with attention to “new” African Americans because of the burgeoning African and Caribbean population in the US; Northern African Americans’ return to the South; racial suburbanization; inner-city hyperghettoization; health and environment; civil rights and protest activism; electoral politics; mass incarceration; and dynamic cultural production” (website).

Many poets have graced our stage over the years, some now adults and in college, and others now parents with children of their own. By continuing this annual poetry program, we honor eloquent poets of the past, such as Lee Williams, Arnold White, Joy Holland, Kamau Seitu and supporters like Tique Caul, Lee Williams’ daughter who died this year. There are many more poets and supporters who remain vivid in our memories. If anyone has photos or footage from the past 29 years, we would appreciate an opportunity to make copies of your materials.

Our participants have ranged in age from 8 to 80, including published writers, award-winning authors and brand new poets reading their work in public for the first time.  Music, dance and costumes have enhanced past performances as each participant shares her or his unique style.  We also have poets performing in ensemble.

If you’re interested in being featured in this program, please give us a call and sign up by Friday, January 18.  The library phone number is (510) 238-7352.  There will also be an open mic for those who are not on the featured program.

All poets, especially new poets, who want to be featured, are asked to participate in a rehearsal on Saturday, January 19, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the West Oakland Branch Library – 1801 Adeline Street (across the street from DeFremery Park a.k.a. Lil’ Bobby Hutton Park).  The library is near the AC Transit bus line, which stops at the corner of 18th and Adeline Street, and which is 15 blocks from the City Center BART station.  For further information, please call the library at: (510) 238-7352 or leave a message for Ms. Sabir at 510-255-5579 or info@wandaspicks.com.

This event is free to all, and includes refreshments donated by many local vendors.  If you can help us with set-up of chairs or refreshments or if you can volunteer for just 2 hours on the day of the event, we’d certainly appreciate the assistance.  Again, please give us a call. We’d also be happy to have the event broadcast on one of the local TV stations, if someone from the community knows a TV station that would be interested in offering this service. Please let us know.

As mentioned, this event takes place in the Multi-Purpose Room inside the building, across the hall from the library. This room is wheelchair accessible. Accommodations can also be made for the hearing impaired, but please make advance arrangements with us by calling us no later than Friday, Jan. 18, if you will be requesting ASL assistance.

Thank you. We look forward to your participation!

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