The Center for Black Literature Celebrates National Poetry Month with Adrian Matejka and Dorothea Smartt

In celebration of National Poetry Month this April, the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, will host an evening of poetry reading and a discussion with poets Adrian Matejka and Dorothea Smartt. As part of the CBL’s John Oliver Killens 2011 Reading Series, the reading and book signing will take place on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. in the Edison O. Jackson Auditorium, 1638 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, New York. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Brenda Greene, Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature states, “Our poets are our visionaries and documentarians; they celebrate our joys and desires, raise critical questions and use their creativity to help us to remember and reflect on our lives in imaginative ways.”

Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden, winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award from Alice James Books, and Mixology, which was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Lannan Foundation. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry 2010, Callaloo, and Ploughshares among others. He teaches at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he is the William and Margaret Going Endowed Professor for 2010–2011.

Dorothea Smartt is a nationally and internationally respected poet of Barbadian heritage who was born and is based in London. She has been dubbed “Brit-born Bajan international,” as she braids together standard and Caribbean English; poetic form and speech rhythms; myth, history, observation and reflection. She moves, informs, and entertains—whether read on the page or heard on stage. Her latest collection Ship Shape [2008, Peepal Tree Press] connects past and present, presence and absence, with a sequence of “blues-y, well-crafted poems of loss, and desire,” imagining the missing history of an eighteenth-century African, presumed buried on Sunderland Point. Her highly praised first collection, Connecting Medium [2001, Peepal Tree Press], features a Forward Prize commended poem, with others from her outstanding performance works “Medusa!? Medusa Black!” and “From You To Me To You” [An ICA Live Art commission]. She explores issues of heritage and identity, with an evocative and spirited voice that “coils up your feelings, around granite chips of truth…unwinds solace, in the most soothing volleys” [Kevin LeGendre, Caribbean Times]. The most recent anthologies to feature her work are: Caribbean Erotic: Poetry, Prose & Essays [2011, Peepal Tree Press], Red: Contemporary Black British Poetry, edited by Kwame Dawes [2010, Peepal Tree Press], and No Condition Is Permanent: 19 Poets on Climate Justice and Change [2010, Platform/African Writers Abroad].

National Poetry Month was established by the American Academy of Poets in 1996 and is held in April as a monthlong celebration designed to increase the visibility of poetry and poets in American culture.

The John Oliver Killens Reading Series was established by the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, to honor the late John Oliver Killens, creator of the National Black Writers Conference, and to highlight the literary contributions and the recently published works by established emerging authors; and to further engage students, faculty and the general public in conversations about Black literature through discussion, readings and book signings.

For more information about the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, and programs sponsored by CBL, please visit the Web site at Or call the office at 718-804-8883.

About Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Medgar Evers College was founded in 1970 through the efforts from educators and community leaders in central Brooklyn. The College is named after Medgar Wiley Evers, a Mississippi-born black civil rights activist who was assassinated on June 12, 1963. The College is divided into four schools: The School of Business; The School of Professional and Community Development; The School of Liberal Arts and Education; and The School of Science, Health, and Technology. Through these Schools, the College offers 29 associate and baccalaureate degree programs, as well as certificate programs in fields such as English, Nursing, and Accounting. Medgar Evers College also operates several co-curricular and external programs and associated centers such as the Male Development and Empowerment Center, the Center for Women’s Development, the Center for Black Literature, and The DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy.