New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Sacred Circle/Spoken Word
A Three-Day Festival of the Spoken Word
October 29-31 1999
Miguel Algarin is a poet, critic and entrepreneur. He is the founder of the famed Nuyorican Poets Caf� and has served as the host of the Caf�’s live radio broadcast on WBAI for more than 18 years. With Miguel Pinero, Algarin edited Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings (William Morrow & Co.). He is the editor of Action: The Nuyorican Poets Caf� Theatre Festival (Scribner) and co-edited Aloud (Henry Holt). He has written several award-winning poetry collections including Time’s Now/Ya es tiempo and Love is Hard Work (Scribner).
Shaheen Ariefdien and Isaac Pule Chokwe are hip-hop artists and members of Prophets of Da City, a group based in Azania, South Africa. Prophets of Da City strives to use hip-hop as an educational tool, and to use art to work toward fairness and justice. Ariefdien and Chokwe believe that poetry has the power to save and change lives.
Asha Bandele is the author of the recently released, critically acclaimed The Prisoner’s Wife: A Memoir (Scribner). She is a columnist, poet and spoken word artist whose previous work includes in the palms of my hands and other poems.
Amina Baraka helped to launch Newark’s Jazz Arts Society in 1965 and was an original member of the Spirit Movers, a group that symbolized the energy of the Black performing arts scene during the 1960s. She is an accomplished poet, actress and dancer. She is the co-editor of the anthology, Confirmation: An Anthology of African American Women.
Amiri Baraka is one of the most prolific African American writers of the 20th century. He is an acclaimed poet and the Obie-winning playwright of Dutchman. His long list of writing credits includes: Blues People; Home; Social Essays; Black Fire; Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka / LeRoi Jones and Selected Plays and Prose of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones. He continues to be active in the struggle against racism and capitalism, to organize artists, and tp participate in the struggle for Black Liberation. He is currently teaching classes on Pan-African literature at Sony Brook College at the State University of New York and at Columbia University.
Ras Baraka is the co-editor of the anthology titled In The Tradition. His own poetry has been extensively anthologized, and he appears on two CDs: The Fugees’ The Score and Lauryn Hill’s Grammy-winning The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Hie is one of the originators of the Verse 4 Verse Literary Series held monthly in Newark.
Toni Blackman is a rap lyricist, vocalist, actress and writer who recently received the Mayor’s Art Award for Outstanding Emerging Artist . She is the founder of Hip Hop Arts Movement, the editor of Freestyle Union, a Washington-based organization for hip-hop artists and rappers that teaches leadership and community responsibility, and founder of the Daughters of the CipHer Band. She co-authored and performed in The Hip Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown. Her poetry has appeared in Omawe Journal, Fast Talk, Full Volume and 360�: The Anthology. She has performed with Ricki Lee Jones, Wu Tang Klan, The Roots, Regina Belle and The Manhattans, among others.
Roger Bonair-Agard, a native of Trinidad and Tobago and a graduate of Hunter College, currently lives in Harlem. He has performed at The Nuyorican Poets Caf�, where he was selected as the 1998 Fresh Poet of the Year and coached their team to a 1998 National Slam Championship Victory. He was also voted 1999’s National Slam Individual Champion. His first collection of poems, titled and chaos congealed, will be released this fall.
Wilfredo Bonilla, Jr. is a motivational speaker, poet and community activist who attends the Rutgers University-Newark School of Law. He believes that the quest for and artistic expression of knowledge of self develops a degree of self-love, self-esteem and self-respect incomparable to other learning. With this knowledge and appreciation for self and others, one can begin the process of stitching the fabric to a socially fragmented society.
Dave "Davey D" Cook is a D.J. and journalist with KMEL/KPFA. He has developed the most technically advanced hip-hop site on the internet www.daveyd.com. The site, which attracts over 70 thousand hits each month from more than 40 counties around the world, was voted Yahoo Internet Life’s Best Hip Hip Site of 1997. He is also the publisher of the Friday Night Vibe Political and Hip Hop Online Newsletter.
Reg E. Gaines was nominated for a Tony Award and a Grammy Award for his work on Broadway’s Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk. He is currently working on Hoopz, a basketball musical for Walt Disney Theatricals. He works with high school students in New Jersey and New York City public schools. His recordings include Please Don’t Take My Air Jordans and Sweeper Don’t Clean My Street for Mercury Records. He most recently completed Show and Tell, an international project geared toward children.
Maia Claire Garrison is an acclaimed dancer, choreographer and former member of the Urban Bush Women dance company. She is the founder of M’Zawa Danz, her own troupe which specializes in modern and West African dance. Garrison’s dancers include Kristin Carpenter, Jeneen Cleare, Omagbitse Omagbemi and Althea Pace.
General D was born in Mozambique and presently lives in Lisbon, Portugal. One of Europe’s most popular African rap artists, his CDs have been released on EMI-Europe. He is known for his poetic, socially conscious lyrics and for his stage performances with some of Portugal’s best African singers, dancers and musicians.
Troy Johnson is the founder and webmaster of the African American Literature Book Club. The African American Literature Book Club's goals are to increase knowledge of the richness of African American Literature, to satisfy on-line book buying needs, and to serve as a resource for aspiring authors and professional writers. Johnson was raised in Spanish Harlem in New York City and currently resides in Brooklyn. He holds an MS in engineering and an MBA.
Sarah Jones is a published poet, playwright, actor and spoken word performer. She is the 1997 Nuyorican Poets Caf� 1997 Grand Slam Champion. Her one-woman show, Surface Transit, is currently in development at the American Place Theater and has been performed at the HBO Workspace. She is the recipient of the 1998 Van Lier Literary Fellowship from the Bronx Council on the Arts. She has worked with a variety of artists including Paul Simon, Derek Walcott and Gil Scott-Heron.
Live Language is a collective whose members create a hybrid of poetry and music with an emphasis on jazz, improvisation and spoken word. The group’s members include PJ Cotroneo, guitarist and music teacher; Antar Goodwin, bass player, percussionist and yoga instructor; Cecil Young, trumpeter; Stuart Leonard, poet and novelist; Anthony Spirito, poet and filmmaker; and Kim Lake, vocalist, percussionist, poet and aura.
Mannafest is a live art conduit that delivers exciting experiments in music, poetry, DJ culture, visual art and new media in alternative spaces. Established by Khefri Riley and Vanessa Richards in 1995, Mannafest’s multi-media happenings continue to set standards for innovative contemporary writers and performance artists. Mannafest’s work has been presented throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Laini Mataka produced Black Ivory, her first record of poetry set to music, in 1971. That recording was followed by Me and a Friend. Her publications include Black Rhythms for Fancy Dancers, Never as Strangers, Restoring the Queen, and Being a Strong Black Woman Can Getchu Killed. Her work has been include in a number of anthologies including Sisterfire, 360 Degrees, In Search of Color Everywhere and Day of Absence.
Jessica Care Moore is a published poet whose works include The Words Don’t Fit in My Mouth. She founded Moore Black Press and was featured in the recent PBS documentary, I’ll Make Me a World.
Tracie Morris is a multimedia performance poet who has worked in theater, dance, music and film. She has toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Her poetry has been anthologized in a variety of publications including 360 Degrees, Listen Up! and Aloud. Her poetry collections include Intermission and Chap-T-her Won.
Mutabaruka has established himself as one of the most important voices in the realms of music, poetry and social commentary. Born in Jamaica in 1953, his involvement with the Rastafari movement led him to seek alternatives to conventional lifestyles. His first poems appeared in the Jamaican music magazine, Swing, where they gained immediate attention. Three acclaimed volumes of poetry followed: Outcry, Sun and Moon and The Book: First Poems. He first combined poetry and music in 1973 with percussionist Larry McDonald’s band Truth, with which he recorded Wey Mi Belong. His debut single, Everytime I Hear De Soun, was recorded in 1981 with master reggae guitarist Chinna Smith and his High Times Band. Mutabaruka’s debut LP, Check It, jumped to the top of the reggae charts in 1983. His other recordings, all released on Shanachie Records, include Outcry, The Mystery Unfolds, Any Which Way Freedom and Blakk Wi Blak k k
Will Power holds a B.A. in theater from San Francisco State University and studied with off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons. He has performed his solo theatrical works to capacity audiences at Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena, The Upper Room, New College, CBGB’s and the Brooklyn Moon Caf�. He was commissioned by Theater Artaud to develop his latest work, The Gathering. He is the co-founder and co-artistic director of the hip-hop band, Midnight Voices.
Roger Robinson is a graduate of the infamous "Speakers Corna" poetry jams and a former member of the Urban Poets Society and Chocolate Art. He has performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Barbican Centre, the Institute of International Visual Arts, and Royal Festival Halls, among others. He is presently the programmer for the Apples and Snakes performance poetry agency and was recently chosen as one of thirty poets for the National Portrait Gallery’s New Generation Poets Collection.
Kalamu Ya Salaam is a writer, editor, producer and arts administrator. His latest works include the anthologies, From a Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets and 360�: A Revolution of Black Poets, both for BlackWords Press. His latest spoken word CD is My Story, My Song (AFO Records). He is the author of the play Body & Soul and seven books of poetry including The Blues Merchant, Hofu Ni Kwenu/My Fear if For You, Revolutionary Love, Iron Flowers and A Nation of Poets. He is also the editor of WORD UP-Black Poetry of the 80s from the Deep South and the leader of the WordBand performance-poetry ensemble.
Sonia Sanchez is the author of 16 books including Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, Does Your House Have Lions and, most recently, Like the Singing Coming off the Drums (Beacon Press). She is a contributing editor with Black Scholar and Journal of African Studies. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts, the 1984 Lucretia Mott Award, and the American Book Award for her 1985 Homegirls and Handgrenades. She also acts as the Chairperson of the Women’s Studies Program at Temple University.
William Q. Sanchez is the series producer of Images/Imagenes, the award-winning and longest running Latino program on the Public Broadcasting System. He is also the producer of the NJN Hispanic Youth Showcase, a children’s television program that recently received its second Emmy Award nomination.
Marvin Sewell, a composer and guitarist, is originally from Chicago and is currently based in New York City. He has performed with Jack DeJohnette, Marcus Miller, and Dierdre Murray, and is featured on the Right Here, Right Now single from Cassandra Wilson’s Traveling Miles CD. He is currently at work on a new solo project.
Sekou Sundiata is a poet who writes for both print and performance as well as music and theater. He has recorded and performed with a variety of artists including Craig Harris, David Murray, Nona Hendryx and Vernon Reid, and tours regularly throughout the U.S. and Europe. Among his works are The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop and The Mystery of Love, commissioned by New Voices/New Visions at Aaron Davis Hall and the American Music Theater Festival. His CDs include The Blue Oneness of Dreams (Mouth Almighty/Mercury) and Urban Music (Righteous Babe Records).
Imani Uzuri is a vocalist/composer and cultural activist. She believes in the transformative power of art. She has been seen in clubs in New York, London, San Francisco and Paris, performing her ambient trances drum and bass-inspired music. She is currently working on her debut recording, Her Holy Water.
The Watts Prophets are Richard Anthony Dedeux, Amde Anthony Hamilton and Otis O’Solomon, three spoken word artists who live and work in Watts, California. Students of the Watts Writers Workshop, the three have been working together since they met there in 1967. Their unique, jazz-accompanied topical poetry has taken them to a variety of stages around the country.