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Jazz Poetry Concert & Collaboration

October 9, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

Who said City of Asylum’s Jazz Poetry programming only comes once a year? This special program presents a jazz concert featuring Mat Maneri (performing with the ASH Quartet). The jazz set is followed by a jazz and poetry collaboration with poet Denver Butson and four poets from our partnership with the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Saba Hamzah, Yashika Graham, and Tammy Lai-Ming Ho. 

About the Band:

Mat Maneri (“ASH” Quartet) has, over the course of a twenty-five year career, defined the voice of the viola and violin in jazz and improvised music. Born in Brooklyn in 1969, Maneri has established an international reputation as one of the most original and compelling artists of his generation. As a young musician, Maneri was influenced by the sounds of his childhood home. His father, saxophonist and composer Joe Maneri, was on faculty at the New England Conservatory, and colleagues like Ran Blake and Gunther Schuller were frequent visitors. In 1990, Mat co-founded the legendary Joe Maneri Quartet with his father, drummer Randy Peterson and bassists Ed Schuller and John Lockwood. The quartet’s recordings for ECM Records, Hatology and Leo Records were widely acknowledged by critics and fellow musicians as among the most important developments in 20th century improvised music. Maneri’s 1999 solo debut on ECM Records marked his emergence as a musician with a singular, uncompromised voice. Since then, the long list of musicians with whom he has worked includes icons such as Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley, Paul Motian and William Parker, as well as influential bandleaders such as Joe Morris, Vijay Iyer, Matthew Shipp, Marilyn Crispell, Lucian Ban, Joelle Leandre, Kris Davis, Tim Berne and Craig Taborn. 

About the Poets:

Busisiwe Mahlangu (she/her) ​​Busisiwe Mahlangu is a writer and performer from Mamelodi, Pretoria. Her debut collection, Surviving Loss (2018), was adapted for theater. She was a fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (2022), working on her second manuscript, A Body Makes Fire. She has shared her work all over South Africa and performed on international stages including Lesotho, Mozambique, Sweden, eSwatini, Nigeria and the USA. Mahlangu was awarded the Inaugural SA National Poetry Prize (2020). Her work is longlisted for the Sol Plaatje European Poetry Award and is published in Kalahari Review, Ja magazine, Best ‘New’ African Poets, Atlanta Review, Yesterdays and Imagining Realities, Wild Imperfections and elsewhere. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of South Africa. When she is not writing, she makes beaded jewelry and accessories under the handle Busi Creates. You can read more of her work on busimahlangu.com.

Saba Hamzah سبأ حمزة is a feminist poet-scholar, writer, and educator who navigates the intersection of knowledge production, memory, and social justice, with a decolonization approach. Her main devices are line and light and the moments in between. Saba is a research associate at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and a fellow scholar at Vassar College in New York. Her commitment to educational innovation is reflected in her work with alternative pedagogies and artistic practices, where she seeks to stimulate critical thinking and challenge conventional norms, thereby shaping transformative learning experiences. Saba is a founder of the Yemeni Women Archive, a space for emerging knowledge from women’s experiences and histories in Yemen and the diaspora.

Yashika Graham (she/her) is a poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writer, visual artist, and radio broadcaster from Jamaica. She won the 2019 Mervyn Morris Prize for Poetry from the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she read for a Bachelor’s degree in Literatures in English. An executive member of the Poetry Society of Jamaica, she has been awarded a Centrum Writer’s Residency and has been featured on stages including the Dodge Poetry Festival (USA), Bristol Festival of Literature (UK), the World Festival of Poetry (Venezuela) and the Port Townsend Writers Conference (USA) where she has also delivered craft talks and taught cross-genre workshops. Her poetry, prose and literary criticism have been published internationally and her debut collection Some of Us Can Go Back Home is forthcoming from Blouse & Skirt Books.

Tammy Lai-Ming Ho (she/her) is a poet, scholar, translator, and editor from Hong Kong. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, a story collection, and an academic monograph on Neo-Victorian cannibalism. Her third poetry collection will be published in 2024. As editor-in-chief of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, English editor at Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, and founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed academic journal Hong Kong Studies, she has curated events, given lectures and written widely about Hong Kong’s literature and culture. She translates contemporary Hong Kong and Chinese poetry and her own poems have been translated into many languages. Her participation has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

Denver Butson (he/him) won the 2022 Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize from Cloudbank Book for his fifth book of poetry, The Scarecrow Alibis. In 2020, Denver won the William Matthews Poetry prize from The Asheville Poetry Review, judged by Ilya Kaminsky. Also in 2020, he wrote the afterword for Jim Harrison’s posthumous Collected Ghazals (Copper Canyon Press). A frequent collaborator with artists working in other media, Denver has worked extensively with visual artists Maria Mercedes Martinez (Maria Saha) and Dennis Dawson, photographer Cedric N. Chatterley, and musicians Mat Maneri, Marco Cappelli (and his Italian Surf Academy), Lucian Ban, and others. His own visual work and his musical collaborations have been seen in New York City galleries and performance spaces and in festivals in Italy.  He is also a voiceover artist with work in award-winning short films. Denver’s poems have appeared in dozens of literary journals (including Yale Review, The Ontario Review, ZYZZYVA, Tin House, Nuovi Argomenti, and Field), in anthologies (edited by the likes of Billy Collins, Agha Shahid Ali, and Garrison Keillor), on National Public Radio, and in The Library of Congress’s Poetry 180 Program. 

About Your Visit: 

The in-house restaurant is closed, but a cash wine bar will be available. 

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October 9, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Program Categories:


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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