October 13, 2009

‘Bending the Bow’ features poetry, music, art

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Poetry, music, and art are on the menu for the two-day event Oct. 15-16 celebrating “Bending the Bow,” which is both a current exhibit at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s University Museum and the name of a new poetry anthology edited by SIUC’s Frank M. Chipasula.

“Bending the Bow” is a phrase with dual meaning, referring to preparations both for hunting and for tuning an instrument. The phrase aptly captures the tension, music and conflict of the Africana love poetry collected in Chipasula’s anthology.

Here’s a description of what is on the schedule:

Thursday, Oct. 15

• Community Poetry Circle, featuring readings from area poets, 3-5 p.m. at Rustle Hill Winery in Cobden.

• Bending the Bow Poetry Reading, featuring five poets, 6-9 p.m. in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library. Refreshments and book signing follow the reading.

Chipasula, a Malawi native, is a former Judge William Holmes Cook Professor of Black American Studies and an associate professor in the Black American Studies program at SIUC. His books include “On the Shoulders of the Mountain,” “Whispers in the Wings,” “Nightwatcher, Nightsong” and “Visions and Reflections.” The latter book, published in 1972, may be the first literary volume ever published by a Malawi writer. Chipasula also contributed to or edited volumes including “When My Brothers Come Home,” and “The Heinemann Book of African Women’s Poetry.”

“Bending the Bow,” his most recent book, is an anthology of African love poetry, spanning both time and space by including selections from the entire continent of Africa and from ancient times to the present.

Father Joseph Brown, professor and the director of the Black American Studies program at SIUC, is the author of “The Sun Whispers, Wait: New and Collected Poems,” published by Brown Turtle Press. He also writes on theological topics.

Allison Joseph is an associate professor in the Department of English and director of the master of fine arts program in creative writing. She also serves as editor and poetry editor of the national literary journal, the “Crab Orchard Review,” published by SIUC. Joseph is the award-winning author of six collections of poetry, as well as poetry appearing in various journals and anthologies. Her most recent collection is “Voice: Poems,” with “My Father’s Kites,” forthcoming.

Daniel P. Kunene is professor emeritus from University of Wisconsin at Madison and the author or editor of several books, including “Heroic Poetry of the Basotho,” “A Seed Must Seem to Die,” and “From the Pit of Hell to the Spring of Life.” The composer Bernard van Beurden set Kunene’s poem, “Soweto,” to orchestra and choir. The work debuted at Gronigen, Netherlands, in 1990.

Rashidah Ismaili is the author of poetry, stories and plays, including “Cantata for Jimmy,” “Oniybo and other Poems,” and “Ricekeepsers: A Play.” She also promotes African-based dance. A West African native, Ismaili has teaching and workshop experience at festivals and writing projects across the country, and was a visiting scholar/artist at the University of Ghana in 2004. Her Galleria Africa promotes young artists from Africa and the African Diaspora.

Friday, Oct. 16

• Bending the Bow Museum Reception, featuring Lawrence Sykes, 4-7 p.m. in University Museum. Sykes presents his gallery talk at 5 p.m. Area musician Larry Millard brings music with an African flavor to the reception.

Sykes’ exhibit features his black and white photography, multi-layered photographic constructions and some of his commercial art, including book covers. In fact, Sykes produced the artwork on the cover of Chipasula’s anthology, “Bending the Bow.” Sykes’ teaching credits include New York University, the College of Art in Kumasi, Ghana, and the Parsons School of Design West Africa Program.

All events are free and open to the public. The SIUC Fine Arts Activity Fee contributed to this event. Other sponsors include College of Liberal Arts Dean Alan Vaux, the African Student Council, Southern Illinois University Press, Black Affairs Council-SIUC, Morris Library and Brown Turtle Press, Inc., Carbondale Community Arts, Rustle Hill Winery, Barnes and Noble of Carbondale, and Waldenbooks of Marion.