Collected Poets Series, March Ed.

This Thursday, March 5, 2009, at 7:30 p.m, the Collected Poets Series is sponsoring a benefit for the Holyoke Care Center’s Teen Mother Education and Support Program.
Nikky Finney

The teenagers will be reading their poetry with the poet activist Nikky Finney and the talented performance poet advocate from NYC, Tara Betts.

Nikky Finney was born in Conway, South Carolina, the daughter of a civil rights attorney and an elementary school teacher. Finney received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Talladega College in Alabama. While in graduate school, at Atlanta University, she dedicated herself to the crafting of her first body of original narrative work.

In 1985, Finney published her first book of poems, On Wings Made Of Gauze. In 1995, Finney published Rice, a collection of stories, poems, and photographs. Rice won the PEN American Open Book Award in 1999. Finney’s 1998 volume of short stories, Heartwood, was written to assist adult literacy students across the country. Her latest poetry collection, The World Is Round, was published in 2003, and won the 2004 Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry. She is editor of the anthology, The Ringing Ear, a rich contemporary collection of 100 poetic Black voices published by the University of Georgia Press in 2007.

Tara Betts is a lecturer in creative writing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She is a writer/educator/performer who appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and in the SouthWest V-Day production of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” at Chicago’s DuSable Museum. She also appeared in the Black Family Channel series “SPOKEN” with Jessica Care Moore-Poole.

She won the Guild Complex’s Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. Betts published her first chapbook Can I Hang? and the chapbook SWITCH. She represented Chicago twice at the National Poetry Slam. She has performed in Cuba, London, New York, the West Coast and throughout the Midwest. She has shared the stage with Patricia Smith, Rosellen Brown, Afaa Michael Weaver, Kwame Dawes, Luis Rodriguez, MC Lyte and Grammy-winner Jill Scott. Betts co-hosted and organized the women’s performance space/open mic series Women OutLoud, which was recently revived by Insight Arts.

For more information about this month’s poets, of which there is much much more, or to read selections of their work, please visit the Collected Poets Series website

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