Ariadne’s Notes: We had the best Black History Month Celebration ever! Starting with Keisha Prince, Dr. Mark Lomax and ending with Addena Sumter Freitag and Wadada Leo Smith! The theme that stood out was the message of positivity and celebrating our differences plus healing together.
World Poetry Café Radio Show , 100.5 FM, CFRO on February 28, 1-2 PM PST was so honoured to have World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and Ambassador to Jamaica , Addena Sumter Freitag call into the show with her great knowledge of Black History in Canada. Addena is a wonderful poet, actress and writer. Every year, when we celebrated Black History Month at the VPL, she would bring the most beautiful display and participate in the celebration. On the show, she told stories about her mom who was a real heroine as well and also read a poem for Rosa Parks.
Also on the show was the renowned Wadada Leo Smith with his Oratorio on Rosa Parks who will be featured soon. E-poem by Rabia Ahrar, a new story by Sharon Rowe and poems by Victor Schwartzman .
We also heard the voice of Rosa Parks speaking thanks to Victor’s search for her archives.
Addena Sumter-Freitag is from a 7th generation African-Canadian family. She grew up in Winnipeg’s North End, and lived 12 years in Canada’s Arctic where she worked as a Community Development Worker for Status of Women NWT, and served 4 years as a Board member of Status of Women Canada. In her Social and Community Services career, Addena worked extensively with Women, Women’s Groups and with Aboriginal youth.
Addena is an actor as well as a published and award winning author. Her first book “Stay Black & Die”, published by Commodore Books, has been included in English curriculum reading lists at UBC, Universery of Victoria, Emily Carr, Vanier College (Montreal), and also included in U.B.C Women’s Studies courses. Her second book, “Back In The Days”, published by Wattle and Daub, was the 3rd of three books reviewed in Canadian Literature Quarterly by Atef Laouyene. The review was entitled, “Of Violence and Poetry”.
Addena writes and performs in English, although her poems have been translated to French and Korean. She is well known in the Canadian Theatre and Arts community. Writing and performing are her first loves.
Here is her poem for Rosa Parks: “EXPLAINATION When Rosa Parks was 81, a robber broke into her house With the pretense of chasing away an intruder. He asked her for a Tip for his deed, and when she went to give him money he then proceeded to rob her. He hit her in the process and she fought to defend herself and then he beat her severely and threw her down stairs and took all the money she had. She moved from her house to an apartment after this incident.”
You were Dog-Tired And Alabama parched Hero was ‘the furthest’ from your mind’ When they ‘threw you into the light’
After you’d had so much darkness
Color it Lime.
How they held you up So honored And so cherished On everyone’s lips In everyone’s eyes Immortally memorable Eternally loved.
Strange, that the calendar was your enemy The clock Your Foe
It isn’t fair!
It is fair That one of them ‘Chillin’ Whose Rights You ‘wore your feet out’ for
Took his tragic rage out on you
He battered your face Your arms Your legs Your heart …
For Fifty-three bucks.
Then he threw you down And hurled you toward Your final darkness.
*Koyali Berman, World Poetry Cultural Ambassador and dancer.
Ariadne’s Notes: We are welcoming Nakshatra Singh, a new e-poet from India. I am hoping to feature all the e-poets whose poems are read on the World Poetry Café, CFRO, 100.5 FM , 1 PM. PST. (volunteer time permitting) Mr. Singh’s opening poem the Journeys was read on February 21st by Victor Schwartzman, our esteemed, sound engineer.
” I am Nakshatra Singh. DoB 8th Sept 1970. I am from India. I live in Jodhpur city with my wife, son and parents. I am a civil engineer and at present working as Superintending Engineer with the State Government of Rajasthan. I love morning walks. Most of my poems are born during those happy moments of walks. I believe in four basic pillars of a happy life. 1 Hard Work , 2 Compassion, 3 Reason (justice) and 4 Joy.”
I felt something and turned back, A smile it was, from eyes, from heart. Oh, how and why would I resist, A journey thus began. In togetherness we moved, On the longest roads, On the deepest waters, In the soaring skies, Destination after destination, We sat in the window, Huddled together, The tireless carriage of time, Taking everything to the past, And sitting in Window, We saw it all passing down, A journey lived together. At last the carriage stopped, Everything was like dead and still, Nothing would move. I wanted my journey back, And I went out to the shores, On the shore, it was all set, On one side, endless water, On other was that smile, Wet it was this time though. I saw in to those eyes, Smiling hard they were, Curtains of tears, layers upon layers, Everything was lost, nothing was lost, And I turned back again, A voyage thus began….
By – Nakshatra Singh (C) All rights reserved by author.
Ariadne’s Notes: Calling in on February 14, 1:30 pm PST the World Poetry Café, 100.5 FM CFRO was honoured to celebrate Black History Month with Drummer, composer and educator Dr. Mark Lomax, II on his monumental new 12-album project focusing on the 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade. Titled 400: An Afrikan Epic, the project is a landmark exploration of the ancient history, 400-year struggle and inspired future of Black America, depicted in a stunning variety of musical settings. The recording was released on January 23, 2019, Lomax’s 40th birthday, and brings his discography to 40 albums as a leader. The albums feature seven different groups ranging from solo drums to a cello quartet. In embracing the story of the African diaspora, Dr. Lomax has not only created a landmark composition but a living, breathing work of musical storytelling that will continue to grow and evolve. He has adapted the full work into a more compact suite for performance, and has created a curriculum to present the story in classrooms through performance and lectures. He also plans to launch a website called “The 400 Years Project,” which will promote artists throughout the African diaspora who are using their creative abilities to tell this story.
In the interview, Dr. Mark Lomax made the following points which I believe will help to heal and balance the world: This far reaching project using the music of storytelling and has the goal of promoting ecology and coming together in a world that is out of balance.
*Prejudice is a learned behavior passed down through generations *People are in pain, both those who are prejudiced and those to whom it is directed. *We need to agree to heal as a human family. *Healing can become a way of being in the world *Be polite but do not avoid issues. Sometimes directed anger is a good and positive action. Source: Host Ariadne Sawyer’s notes from the interview.
Bio and description: “ Drummer, composer and educator Dr. Mark Lomax, II on his monumental new 12-album project focusing on the 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade. Titled 400: An Afrikan Epic, the project is a landmark exploration of the ancient history, 400-year struggle and inspired future of Black America, depicted in a stunning variety of musical settings. The recording was released on January 23, 2019, Lomax’s 40th birthday, and brings his discography to 40 albums as a leader. The albums feature seven different groups ranging from solo drums to a cello quartet. “In 1619, a Dutch ship carrying 20 enslaved Africans landed off the coast of the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, marking the foundation of slavery in America. To honor those four centuries of struggle, triumph, tragedy and community, drummer, composer, activist and educator Dr. Mark Lomax, II will unveil his monumental new project, 400: An Afrikan Epic on January 23, 2019. The stunning 12-album cycle traces the epic history of Black America, not only during the 400 years from the beginning of the Transatlantic slave trade but back through thousands of years of history on the African continent and into an optimistic future for the African diaspora. Telling the story in settings as fundamental as the drum, through the visceral improvisation of jazz interplay and the bracing architecture of modern classical composition, the music celebrates the resilience, brilliance, strength, genius, and creativity of a people who continue to endure while offering an inspired view of the future. 400: An Afrikan Epic is the culmination of a lifetime of musical and historical study for Dr. Lomax. The composition of 400: An Afrikan Epic was a passion project undertaken after he experienced resistance to his concepts in college. The seeds for the project had been sown 20 years earlier, with the writing of his first commissioned piece, “Tales of the Black Experience.” An overview of the horrors of slavery, a reimagined version of that work makes up one piece of 400. The 12-album cycle comprises three suites. The first four albums make up “Alkebulan: The Beginning of Us,” which spans the thousands of years that civilization and music had developed in Africa prior to the encroachment of colonialism. Titled for the original Arabic name for the continent, “Alkebulan” begins with “First Ankhcestor,” featuring a gathering of master percussionists, and continues with “Song of the Dogon,” a tribute to the West African people credited with establishing ancient Nubia and Kemet (the original name of Egypt). “Dance of the Orishas” is inspired by the religion, culture and art of the Yoruba people, while “The Coming” introduces the onset of the slave trade via the words of Daniel Black’s novel of the same name, read by the author. The bulk of “Alkebulan” features Lomax’s longstanding Quartet, featuring saxophonist Eddie Bayard, pianist William Menefield, and bassist Dean Hulett. Those same collaborators recombine in various trio and duo combinations throughout 400, reflecting the deep relationship they’ve forged over more than 15 years together. “These are the musicians I trust most with my compositions.” Lomax says. “We’ve developed a music and a language that have made me a better musician, and I’m grateful to have them a part of this project.“
The second suite, “Ma’afa: Great Tragedy,” focuses on the 400 years from that fateful day in 1619 until the present moment. The first piece, “Ma’afa,” is envisioned as a ballet that takes place during the 90-day voyage of a slave ship. “I was intrigued by the idea of a ballet set in a place where you’re physically confined but spiritually free,” Lomax says. That piece features the composer’s large group, The Urban Art Ensemble, which teams a traditional string quartet with an improvising trio.
“Up South: Conversations on American Idealism” consists of two extended pieces examining the North’s economically-driven, complicity in southern slavery, before Lomax narrows his lens to focus on individual icons. “Four Women,” written for UCelli: The Columbus Cello Quartet, pays tribute to Queen Nzinga, the 17th-century leader of Angola who used a combination of hard and soft power to resist Portuguese colonization; Ida B. Wells, the pioneering journalist and early Civil Rights leader; Angela Davis, the fierce 1960s counterculture activist; and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the modern-day Nigerian novelist. “Blues in August,” meanwhile, is inspired by playwright August Wilson’s century-spanning Pittsburgh Cycle.
The final suite, “Afro-Futurism: The Return to Uhuru,” envisions the healing and thriving of Black America, and all of humanity, over the next 400 years. “The last stage points to where humanity is headed,” Lomax explains. “It’s about what it means to be a fully optimized human being, collectively as well as with regards to Africans in America who have slavery in their lineage and Africans on the continent who are still dealing with the ramifications of colonialism.” The overwhelming history ends as it began, with the unaccompanied drum. “My research gave me a cultural and historical context,” he explains, “and the music started to come from the research. This has become my life’s work.” Dr. Mark Lomax, II, Critically acclaimed composer, recording artist, drummer, activist, and educator Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University Artist Residency 2018 Award recipient. Dr. Lomax holds a Doctor of Music Arts degree in composition from The Ohio State University. His myriad experiences have allowed him to create a unique blend of styles in his music. Whether he’s interpreting the Negro Spiritual through jazz, arranging gospel music for a symphony orchestra, or performing his original works, his music is relevant, probing, and inspiring. A highly sought-after lecturer, Lomax specializes in the socio-political and spiritual aspects of African-American art, music, race, and the usage of the arts to build community. These ideas are documented in his TED Talk “Activating The Transformative Power Of Trust.”
Source for the article: Ann Braithwaite is the owner of Braithwaite & Katz Communications, ( World Poetry’s honoured partner) a full-service public relations firm specializing in promoting the foremost jazz artists and events of our time. Since 1986, Braithwaite & Katz has promoted the music of a wide range of internationally renowned musicians including jazz legends Jim Hall, Benny Golson, Billy Taylor, and the Heath Brothers; NEA Jazz Masters David Liebman and Delfeayo Marsalis; MacArthur “Genius Grant” winners Miguel Zénon, Jason Moran and Ran Blake; Pulitzer Prize Finalist Wadada Leo Smith; iconic pianist Fred Hersch; multiple Grammy Award winner Maria Schneider; and many more. Other clients include the Montreal International Jazz Festival and New England Conservatory’s esteemed Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation programs