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Shadow Acts A Celebration of African American Poetry Hip-Hop and Spoken Word

May 27, 2011

Poetry, hip-hop and spoken word have played an historical role within the African American community. Drexel University’s College of Arts & Sciences and the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design have organized a celebration that highlights these art forms in a performance entitled Shadow Acts. The event will take place on Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m. at Drexel University’s Bossone Mitchell Auditorium (3140 Market St.), and is free and open to the public. The evening will feature new work by award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez.  

Sanchez has authored over a dozen books of poetry, been a professor of poetry at eight universities and lectured nationally and internationally on Black culture and literacy.  She has developed new work for this event, inspired by the art of Kara Walker and Yinka Shonibare.  Walker is a critically acclaimed painter and print-making artist, whose work has been on display around the world. Walker also is a professor of visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University. Shonibare, an English painter, sculpture and photographer, explores the issues of race and class in contemporary society.  During the reading by Sanchez, artwork created by Walker and Shonibare will be displayed via a projector.

Sanchez will be joined on stage for a discussion by several poets, musicians, artists and academics including: jazz artists Evan Solot and Odean Pope; poet and rap artist Ursula Rucker; Latin musicians Ray and Marie Taylor; Black activist and owner of Philadelphia’s Robin’s Book Store (110 S. 13th St.) Larry Robins; and professor James Spady, author of 360 Degreez of Sonia Sanchez: Hip Hop, Narrativity, Iqhawe and Public Spaces of Being (2000).

Philadelphia Weekly staff writer Tara Murtha, who has written on Sanchez and her role within the Black cultural and literacy movement, will moderate the discussion and a Q&A session with the audience.

The evening also features Drexel University Music professor and ethnomusicologist, Dr. George Starks, who will perform with the George Starks’s Jazz quartet.  Also performing is MAD Dragon recording artist Kuf Knotz, who has been at the center of Philadelphia’s hip-hop scene for nearly a decade and is releasing the Deluxe CD Edition of Boombox Logic, Sunday, June 5th on Drexel University’s student-run record label, MAD Dragon Records.  

Drexel was one of the first universities to honor and teach the work of Sonia Sanchez. This is largely credited to English professor Dr. Elaine DeLancey, who championed Sanchez's importance to the literary community long before most people. DeLancey is one of the foremost scholars on Sanchez and the founding editor of BMa: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review.  

About the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design:
Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers sixteen undergraduate and five graduate programs in media, design and the performing arts. Programs are taught in small studio settings, featuring hands-on learning and an award-winning faculty of industry practitioners who emphasize the use of the latest technologies. Westphal College is home to the Mandell Theater, the Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel’s television (DUTV) and radio (WKDU 91.7 FM) stations, the Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies, MAD Dragon Records and Drexel’s Historic Costume Collection.  Allen Sabinson is the dean of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. For more information about the College, go to: www.drexel.edu/westphal.

About the College of Arts and Sciences:

Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences offers 16 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. All programs combine interdisciplinary study with hands-on experience through Drexel’s cooperative education program and internships. Students in the social sciences and sciences have access to diverse research facilities and the opportunity to work alongside award-winning faculty beginning as early as the freshman year. The College is also home to the Drexel Publishing Group, numerous literary publications including the Painted Bride Quarterly, and the Humanities Fellowship Program, all of which provide ample opportunities for research and experience in the humanities. For more information, visit: www.drexel.edu/coas.

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News Media Contacts:
Alex McKechnie, News Officer, University Communications, 215-895-2705 or amckechnie@drexel.edu
Zeek Weil, Director, Communications and Events, Westphal College, 215-895-2629, zw36@drexel.edu

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