Ashley Bryan at Calvin College

Earlier this week, I drove up the coast to Grand Rapids, MI to watch Ashley Bryan give a presentation to a packed hall at the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College. He spoke about the African American spirituals that run throughout his books for children, how the spirituals contain themes of positive self image to which all children can identify, and how a child's view of the world can be cultivated in adults. As usual, Ashley jumped from art to history to episodes of his personal story, including his time as a stevedore in the segregated army during the Normandy invasion. He closed with a particularly moving recitation of John Keats's "When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be" before a standing ovation. It's always an honor and a pleasure to be in the presence of this artist, and to see how much joy he finds in the world.

Photos © copyright 2016 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.

American Howl with Fulcrum Point

Scenes from a hard-hitting concert with Fulcrum Point at the Poetry Foundation.  Kevin Coval's between-the-eyes eloquence in his own work matched the tone Allen Ginsburg's "Howl," set to music by George Flynn. The otherwise intimate setting could barely contain the force of Jerome Kitzke's "Mad Coyote Madly Sings."  Pictured are Stephen Burns (trumpet/conductor), Kevin Coval (poet/narrator), Wagner Campos (clarinet), Jeremy Ruthrauff (sax), Kuang-Hao Huang (piano), Doug Perkins (percussion), Rika Seko (violin), Sophie Webber (cello), Collins Trier (bass), Juliet Petrus, Joelle Lamarre, and Brad Jungwirth (vocals).  

Photos © Copyright 2015 by Elliot Mandel. All rights reserved.