Poetry & Drumming in Englewood

June 13, 2007

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Pamela Dominguez

The Chicago Park District and the Englewood Community Cultural Planning Council present Acclaimed Poet Michael Warr and Renowned Percussionist Avreeayl Ra as part of "Drum Dialogue," at Hamilton Park Field House.  Drum Dialogue is an on-going drumming workshop hosted by Vocalist, Percussionist, and Storyteller, Zahra Glenda Baker.  The Englewood Community Cultural Planning Council (ECCPC) is honoring Warr, as he returns to San Francisco, the city of his childhood, 30 years after first arriving in Chicago. 

This event draws on Warr's "Critical Junctures" poems, tracking his life journey through Baton Rouge, Addis Ababa, Timbuktu, and the two cities that have most influenced his life - Chicago and San Francisco.  Emily Hooper Lansana and Zahra Baker, of the storytelling duo "In the Spirit," with special guest Avreeayl Ra, combine poetry, vocals and music in a rendition of Warr's poem "Back to Baton Rouge," about returning to the place of his birth.  Also interweaving poetry and prose, sometimes with vocal and musical accompaniment, Warr performs  and narrates what he calls 'poetic memoir,' tracing his being whisked away from Louisiana to San Francisco at the age of three, by his mother who feared for her life; the long-reaching impact of his family's conversion from southern Baptists to northern Jehovah Witnesses;  attendance at a high-school with the lowest-reading rate in California, while excelling at reading and public speaking due to training at the Kingdom Hall;  selling the Watchtower and Awake from door to door on the weekends and buying "The Black Panther" outside his high school during the week;  getting hooked on poetry after stealing "Three Thousand Years of Black Poetry,"  an anthology including poems by Don Lee (Haki Madhubuti), Amiri Baraka, Victor Hernandez Cruz, and Gwendolyn Brooks;  moving to Chicago and receiving the Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award; being arrested by the Dergue and interrogated at Haile Selassie's Jubilee Palace during a five-year stint as a foreign correspondent in Ethiopia; returning to Chicago and founding the Guild Complex; performing poetry at institutions ranging from the Sorbonne to Joliet Prison; and more - all in 45 minutes.  The program also features "In the Spirit" and Neighborhood Writing Alliance participant Pamela Dominguez.

 

Recorded Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at Hamilton Park Field House.