Nancy Pearson & Afaa Michael Weaver

(Note: You can now view a portion of Nancy Pearson’s reading here!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010, at 7:00 pm, poets Nancy Pearson and Afaa Michael Weaver will help us welcome the new year in a special benefit for the Green River House.

*Please note the time change.

The Green River House is a community-based rehabilitation and support program, provided through Clinical and Support Options (CSO), for mentally ill adults.  CSO’s mission is to provide responsive and effective interventions and services to support individuals adults, children and families in their quest for stability, growth and an enhanced quality of life.

$5-10 suggested donation.

Nancy Pearson. Photo by Elizabeth Winston.

Nancy K. Pearson’s first book of poems, Two Minutes of Light, won the 2009 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Her book has been selected as a Must-Read from the 9th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards. Pearson recently completed two seven-month poetry fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, she now lives on Cape Cod with her partner.

Afaa Michael Weaver, formerly known as Michael S. Weaver, was born in 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended public schools and graduated as a National Merit finalist at the age of 16.

Afaa Michael Weaver. Photo by Lynda Kodish.

After two years at the University of Maryland, he entered the world of factory life alongside his father and uncles and remained a factory worker for 15 years. These years were a literary apprenticeship during which he wrote and published poetry, short fiction, and freelance journalism. During that time he also started 7th Son Press and Blind Alleys, a literary journal.

His first book of poetry, Water Song, was published in 1985 as part of the Callaloo series. He received a NEA fellowship for poetry six months after signing the contract for the collections and left factory life to accept admission into Brown University’s graduate writing program on a full university fellowship, where he completed the M.A. with a focus on theater and playwriting. Concurrently, he completed his B.A. in literature in English through Excelsior College.

Weaver’s other collections include Multitudes; Sandy Point; The Ten Lights of God; My Father’s Geography; Timber and Prayer, and his latest, The Plum Flower Dance: Poems 1985 to 2005. He also writes short fiction and plays.

Weaver has been a Pew fellow in poetry, and was the first Elder of Cave Canem and the first African American to hold the poet-in-residence position at the Stadler Poetry Center at Bucknell University. He has taught in National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar. At Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, Weaver is the alumnae professor of English and director of the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center. In addition, he is chairman of the Simmons International Chinese Poetry Conference.

BELIEVER by Nancy Pearson

I never ordered a Lib’s Patty Melt, never ordered anything,
not one thing Scattered, Smothered or Covered

for five years. Every night I soaked my shins in a mop bucket of ice water.
Pat Sajack lit up with eggcrates, my mother cracked

plastic blue trays in the kitchen.  I was the best runner in Tennessee.
I believed in miracles. Nightly I fingered the sorrowful mysteries,

my pea-sized prayers to a popsicle-shaped Mary with a crack in her head.
I’d never seen someone in a coma, never seen a hospital bed

wheeled to the middle of a living room like the bathtub we found one August
parked in the middle of a tobacco field. I was yelling one night:

Big Money, when my best friend asked me this—
if ever she lie stiff in a coma, I’d promise to pluck out her chin hair.

I believed I caused the storm that scalped the house for a tub.
I believed I’d never throw my head back in a Lazy Chair

for a frat boy pouring tequila down my throat. Never would I fall in love
with a woman. I ran repeat negative splits. I believed in Joan Benoit

and the Flying Scotsman. I believed that I would bend over
one day, that I could weed out the twigs

of black hair on someone’s swollen face. I believed
I would never need my own tweezers.

(published in Gulf Coast, Winter/Spring 2010)


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