In between a series of odd jobs, the two folk musicians made a living performing across the country before settling down in Philadelphia. They join Fresh Air to showcase the kind of energetic music they can make with their traditional instruments.
Documentarian Bob Mugge's new film "Black Wax" is a performance documentary with poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron. The film documents performances by Scott-Heron, including some with wax figures. Mugge's previous film "Amateur Night at City Hall," was a documentary about Frank Rizzo. The film includes Scott-Heron performing a portion of his poem/song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
Poet Gwendolyn Brooks was, in 1954, the first black person to receive the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Brooks has written over fifteen books, her poetry has been widely anthologized, and has received over forty honorary doctorates. Brooks is also the Poet Laureate of Illinois. Brooks is in the are to deliver the "Marion Moore Poetry Reading" at Bryn Mawr College. Brooks discusses her career and reads some of her poetry.
Etheridge Knight began writing poetry while serving a sentence for robbery. He talks with Fresh Air producer Danny Miller about how he draws inspiration from his past experiences as a former prisoner and drug addict.
Poet and playwright Leroi Jones changed his name to Amiri Baraka to affirm his African roots. While exploring his black identity, he participated in a variety of different arts and political movements. Though his views continue to evolve, his past experiences continue to inform his writing today.
Young has been accused of not truly reflecting the black experience in his writing because he is not militant. Instead. Young employs humor as means of protest. He often bases his characters on parodies of white stereotypes of black people. He is most noted for his poetry and novels, but has also written musical memoirs and screenplays. His new book is "Heaven: Collected Poems 1956-1990."
Hemphill is the author of two books of poetry, "Earth Life" and "Conditions," and a collection of prose and poetry called "Ceremonies." He's also the editor of "Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men." He reads an excerpt from his poem "Vital Signs," published in the collection "Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS," edited by Thomas Avena.
Essex Hemphill was a poet who's written about being black and gay and edited anthologies of black gay poets. He died this year. During our interview, last year, he read from his work "Vital Signs" which was written in 1993 after he discovered how low his T-cell count had fallen. Hemphill also wrote two poetry books Earth Life and Conditions and a collection called Ceremonies. He was also the editor of Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men. (Rebroadcast of 12/1/1994)
A Village Voice critic once wrote of Sundiata, "...like Billie Holiday, Sundiata surprises with images and tumbling phrases that blend with subtle rhythmic variations." Although he's an established and respected artist, he's just completed his debut CD, "The Blue Oneness of Dreams."