Violist Melanie Dyer returns for her second night of Jazz Poetry, this time amid the ranks of WeFreeStrings. The sextet is joined by poets Desiree C. Bailey, Roy G. Guzmán, and Orlando Watson. Innovative and improvisational, these artists bring a palpable sense of time and place. They set the pace as our month of music and verse approaches its crescendo, each with their finger on the pulse of what the future might hold.
About the Musicians:
WeFreeStrings is an Afro-Modernist string sextet that performs creative, improvised music. The group is comprised of Charles Burnham and Gwen Laster (violins), Melanie Dyer (viola), Alex Waterman (cello), Ken Filiano (bass), and Newman Taylor-Baker (percussion). The combined credits of the sextet include work with musical legends Sun Ra Arkestra, James “Blood” Ulmer, Anthony Braxton, William Parker, Wadada Leo Smith, Don Byron, Nona Hendryx, Henry Grimes, and Medeski, Martin & Wood, in musical and multimedia settings.
About the Poets:
Desiree C. Bailey (she/her) is from Trinidad and Tobago and Queens, NY. She is the author of What Noise Against the Cane, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry. What Noise Against the Cane was also a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the T.S. Eliot Four Quartets Prize, was longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and was selected as one of the Best Books of 2021 by the New York Public Library. Desiree is the inaugural writer-in-residence at Clemson University.
Roy G. Guzmán (they/them) is author of the celebrated debut poetry collection Catrachos, described as “blistering” by Publisher’s Weekly. They are the recipient of a 2019 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, a 2017 Minnesota State Arts Board Initiative grant, and the 2016 Gesell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Their work has been included in the Best New Poets 2017 anthology, guest-edited by Natalie Diaz, and Best of the Net 2017, guest-edited by Eduardo C. Corral. In 2016, Guzmán was the recipient of a Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship, focusing on issues affecting migrant farm workers in Minnesota. Roy also participated in the first Poetry Incubator, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Crescendo Literary, and was invited to run a workshop during the Incubator’s second year. After the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, their poem “Restored Mural for Orlando” was turned into a chapbook with the help of poet and visual artist D. Allen to raise funds for the victims. Roy holds degrees from the University of Minnesota, Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago, and the Honors College at Miami Dade College. They currently live in Minneapolis, where they are pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Minnesota.
Orlando Watson (he/him) has established himself as a preeminent lyricist and recording artist whose soulful, baritone voice is known to weave through words with uncanny rhythmic delivery. In 2015 Orlando was awarded the prestigious “Kente Cloth” by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at Ohio State University alongside acclaimed political commentator, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. He released his début EP “Everything’s Personal” in 2017. The project peaked at #18 on iTunes R&B/Soul charts, which led him to open for Lalah Hathaway and Chantae Cann’s respective tours in 2018. His followup album, Corner Stories was released in December 2021 and peaked at #14 on iTunes top 20 R&B/Soul charts. Orlando has recorded with Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy winners such as Braxton Cook, Terence Blanchard, Keyon Harrold, John Clayton, and Bobby Sparks II of Snarky Puppy to name a few. His poetry has been published in Linden Avenue Literary Journal as well as Five 2 One Magazine. Orlando was the Associate Director of the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, Ohio from 2019-2022 and currently serves as the Senior Director of Programming at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center where he manages the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, and more.
About Your Visit:
The in-house restaurant 40 North will be closed, but the bar will be open for a special Jazzy Hour beginning at 6PM.
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