City of Asylum welcomes critically acclaimed Swiss-Albanian singer Elina Duni, who presents a range of exquisite vocals as she performs timeless folk songs. She shares the stage with ASL Poet Laureate of Allegheny County, Mj Shahen, Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate, Yalie Saweda Kamara, and City of Asylum writer-in-residence Oleksandr Frazé-Frazénko. These artists encompass the versatility of cadence, representing the way it can be both tonal and tactile. This program presents a captivating display of the rising and falling of verse in all its forms.
About the Musician:
Elina Duni is a Swiss-Albanian singer. Having been signed to ECM Records since 2012, her hallmark combination of traditional Albanian folk songs and jazz has led to worldwide critical acclaim.
About the Poets:
Yalie Saweda Kamara (she/her) is a Sierra Leonean-American writer, educator, and researcher from Oakland, California and selected as the 2022–2023 Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate (2-year term). She is the editor of the anthology What You Need to Know About Me: Young Writers on Their Experience of Immigration and the author of poetry collections A Brief Biography of My Name and When the Living Sing. Her poetry appears in Poetry Daily, The Poetry Society of America, The Adroit Journal, Callaloo, A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, and elsewhere. She earned a PhD in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University, Bloomington. For more, visit her website: www.yaylala.com
Maryjean (Mj) Shahen writes poetry and then translates it into ASL. She is the current ASL Poet Laureate of Allegheny County. Previously, Mj worked for years as a counselor and trainer for Deaf-Blind and Deaf individuals with multiple intellectual disabilities, using various technologies and visual cues for instruction and visual/tactual communication. She holds a BS from Gallaudet University and a MS from Hofstra University, and she served in the Peace Corps in Kenya. Mj also was a judge and consultant for the TV game show SignTacTic. Currently, Mj is the ASL Coordinator and an associate professor at CCAC.
Oleksandr Frazé-Frazénko is a filmmaker, writer, and musician. His oeuvre includes several hundred films, music videos, and commercials, a discography of over 50 albums, and a dozen books of poetry. Among this collection are Oleksandr’s volumes Decadence (2017), which contains poems in Ukrainian, and Happy Lovers (2021), which contains poems in English. In addition to his original works, Oleksandr published Ukrainian translations of Jim Morrison’s poetry (the first of their kind) in 2013. He has also translated English poetry of the Restoration Period, including the works of John Rochester. His photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures have been featured in private collections across the globe, including exhibitions in Ukraine, Germany, Canada, and the U.S., among others. During the first year of the war in Ukraine, Oleksandr stayed in the country and became involved in a volunteer movement working with foreign journalists as a producer, filmmaker, and writer to spread the truth about the situation and the historical context. He has been in residence as part of City of Asylum’s Fellowship for Ukrainian Writers since 2023 with his wife, Mariya Trush, a gifted Ukrainian singer.
About Your Visit:
Remember you can dine at the in-house restaurant 40 North before, during, or after the show. Please visit Open Table or call 412-435-1111 to make a reservation.
There will be a “Jazzy Hour” at the in-house bar from 6-7pm.
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