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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Black History Month Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic night

Black History Month Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic night to feature the Affrilachian Poets on Feb. 15

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue its Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic Night series on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m., in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. The series features guest poets/storytellers at each session, with Peter Kosky of South Charleston as host. To celebrate Black History Month, the February program will feature three members of the Affrilachian Poets, Crystal Good, Ricardo Nazario-Colon and Bianca Spriggs.

New and established writers are invited to come and share their poetry and stories at the open mic sessions. Kosky, a history teacher at South Charleston High School and a talented singer/songwriter, will introduce all participants. The open mic session is limited to one hour; the guest artists will begin their shows shortly after the last poem/story has been read, whether or not the hour is over.

Affrilachian, a term coined by Frank X. Walker in his poem “Affrilachia,” is used to describe people of color living in the Appalachian region. The Affrilachian Poets is an ensemble of like-minded writers who came together for mutual support and encouragement. Members of the group strive to give glimpses of life in the American Black South and Appalachian region by drawing on traditions like the Black Arts Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and the experience of the African Diaspora.

Good of Charleston is a poet and arts educator. She is a recipient of the West Virginia Governor’s Innovative Artist Award from Museum in the Community. Recently, her article on West Virginia hip hop was published in “PLUCK! The Journal for African American Culture.” Good regularly produces poetry events and reads for Healing through Creativity, an organization dedicated to using the arts to heal survivors of abuse.

Nazario-Colon, of Georgetown, Ky., is the director of the University of Kentucky’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural Center. He received his M.S.T. degree in secondary education from Pace University in New York City and his bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He has worked as a faculty member for the New York City Public School System and as an administrator for the City University of New York System. Nazario-Colon has been published in several magazines, newspapers and journals including the “Thinker Review: Eclipsing A Nappy New Millennium: Aphros and Arts across Kentucky.”

Spriggs is an English instructor at Bowling Green Technical College in Bowling Green, Ky. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from Transylvania University and a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She currently is pursuing a second master’s degree in folklore at Western Kentucky University. In addition to being an Affrilachian Poet, she is a Cave Canem Fellow, a national community of emerging and established poets and writers who create, publish, perform, teach, study and support each other’s work.

Good, Nazario-Colon, and Spriggs will read individually and as a collective. For more information about the Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic Night series, call (304) 558-0162.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the state capitol complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.