June 9, 2023

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San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive DirectorSheryl Davis Emcee's AFROSOLO'sCelebration of Bay Area Black Poet Laureates
April 24, 2022


Celebration of Bay Area Black Poet Laureates at the San Francisco Main Public Library
A Free Presentation of the AfroSolo Arts Festival In Collaboration With The African American Center


Sunday, April 24 at 2:30 PM 

A Message from AfroSolo's Artistic Director

"It is with great joy that the AfroSolo Arts Festival returns to the stage after two years amid the lifting of COVID restrictions.To celebrate this milestone, AfroSolo is offering a free public performance by three of the Bay Area's outstanding Black Poet Laureates. During this season of renewal we hope that you and those close to you are thriving. Art and poetry help lift our collective spirits and we look forward to you joining us in our return to live indoor performances. Wishing you well."

Thomas Robert Simpson, AfroSolo Artistic & Executive Director
Join us for a Celebration of Bay Area Black Poet Laureates on Sunday, April 24th from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm at the San Francisco Main Public Library. Our 2022 Arts Festival theme is STANDING OUR GROUND! Featured are San Francisco's current Poet Laureate, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and devorah major who was the third in 2002-2006. Also, performing is Dr. Ayodele "WordSlanger" Nzinga, Oakland's first and current Poet Laureate.

Mistress of Ceremonies
 Dr. Sheryl Davis, Executive Director
San Francisco Human Rights Commission

As a resident of the municipality, state or country recognizing them as a pre-eminent literary artist, Poet Laureates typically have a substantial body of published work, including at least one full length book and a significant collection of published poems in established publications, in print or online, 

“Being named a Poet Laureate symbolizes the outstanding achievement of the poet,” notes AfroSolo Artistic/Executive Director Thomas Robert Simpson. "This presentation of Black Poet Laureates reflects proudly on AfroSolo's 26-year history of spotlighting Black arts and championing those who give voice to the best of the human spirit in their community."

An AfroSolo Arts Festival 2022 Presentation

What: FREE Public Poetry Program
Featuring: 3 Bay Area Poet Laureates            
When: Sunday, April 24, 2022
Time: 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Where: Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Public Library
                         Grove and Larkin Streets, San Francisco 
ADA Accessible. All Current COVID Protocols Will Be Observed.

Tongo Elsen-Martin is San Francisco's eighth and current Poet Laureate. He has been described "as a necessary voice for those who are disregarded.”  Announcing him as Poet Laureate in 2021, Mayor London Breed said, "His work on racial justice and equity, along with his commitment to promoting social and cultural change, comes at such a critical time for our city and our country." 
Eisen-Martin is an educator and organizer whose work centers on mass incarceration, extrajudicial killings of Black people, and human rights. His published poetry collections include Someone's Dead AlreadyHeaven Is All Goodbyes, Waiting Behind Tornados for Food, Blood on the Fog. He co-founded the Black radical publishing group Black Freighter Press. www.blackfreighterpress.com
devorah major was born and raised in California. major’s sixth book of poetry with open arms was released in Italy 2019, as a bilingual edition. Her poetry collection Califia's Daughter was released as a Willow Press Editors Choice in July 2020. 
In June 2015, devorah’s poetry play Classic Black:Voices of 19th Century African-Americans in San Francisco premiered at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. She also speaks on CDs as a part of Daughters of Yam. devorah major performs her work nationally and internationally with and without musicians. major has performed her poetry in France, the Bahamas, and Germany and often is presented at poetry festivals in Italy, Belgium, Bosnia, Jamaica, Venezuela and other international events. www.devorahmajor.com (Photo by Bob Fischer)
Harpist Destiny Muhammad will accompany major during her performance. Muhammad is a jazz harpist and vocalist who follows in the footsteps of Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.

Dr. Ayodele "WordSlanger" Nzinga is Oakland's first and current Poet Laureate. Nzinga is variously described as an arts and culture poet,playwright, actress and a  theoretician/practitioner working at the intersections of cultural production and wellbeing to foster transformation in marginalized communities. She is the founding producing Director of Oakland's Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc. The company’s adaptations move among Ebonics, classic Shakespeare and the spoken word to express graphically the anger and anguish of living in violent conditions. 

Ayodele is the founding Director of the Black Arts Community Development Corporation, Oakland, (BAMBD CDC and founding producer of BAMBDFEST, an annual international month-long art and cultural festival that is celebrated and hosted by the Black Arts Movement and Business District in Oakland CA. Nzinga has an MFA in Writing and Consciousness and a PhD in Transformative Education & Change. www.ayodelenzinga.com (Photo: We Inhale Publishing & Production)

This celebration of Black Poet Laureates is funded in part by the "Dream Keeper Initiative."  Mayor London Breed, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shaman Walton, and the entire Board of Supervisors' historical precedent of reassigning a portion of funding of the Police and Sheriff Departments is intended to help break the cycle of poverty and involvement in the criminal justice system of Black people in San Francisco. Click here for more information.
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AfroSolo Theatre Company's mission is to nurture, promote, and present African American and African Diaspora art and culture through solo performances and the visual arts. Founded in San Francisco in 1993 by Thomas Robert Simpson, AfroSolo has provided a forum to give an authentic voice to the diverse experiences of Black people in the Americas. Through art, we bring people of different ethnicities together to explore and share the human spirit that binds us all. (www.afrosolosf.org)

Donations to AfroSolo are greatly appreciated!

We thank our Funders and Community Partners for their support!

AfroSolo is fiscally sponsored by Intersection for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which allows us to offer you tax deductions for your contributions. Please make checks payable to Intersection for the Arts, and write AfroSolo Theatre Company in the memo line. This ensures that you’ll receive an acknowledgment letter for tax purposes, and your donation will be available for our project. 
Mail checks to:

Intersection for the Arts
1446 Market Street
San Francisco, California 94102

Or, click here to make an online donation!

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