April 12, 2004

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Contact: Gabi Otto, Southeast Branch Library, (816) 701-3606; or Mary Jane Dunlap, KU University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

KU National Poetry Project to bring poet Amiri Baraka to Kansas City

LAWRENCE -- To help celebrate National Poetry Month, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), writer and advocate of black culture and political activism, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at Pierson Auditorium, 50th Street and Rockhill Road, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Widely celebrated as the father of the Black Arts movement and criticized for his political frankness, Baraka became nationally prominent in 1964, with the New York production of his Obie Award-winning play, "Dutchman."

Baraka's lecture is part of a series of poetry and book discussion circles sponsored by "Speaking of Rivers: Taking Poetry to the People," the Langston Hughes National Poetry Project at the University of Kansas. The national project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and is directed by Maryemma Graham, KU professor of English.

Baraka's lecture is free, but reservations are requested. Call (816) 235-6222.

The discussions are being offered at the Southeast Branch Library, 6242 Swope Parkway. Circles are limited to 25 people, and reservations are required. Participants will receive a free book. For circle reservations call (816) 701-3484.

The circle schedule, books to be discussed and the facilitator for each discussion are:

 • 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 21: "Not Without Laughter," by Langston Hughes; Carmaletta Williams
 • 7 p.m. Thursday, April 22: "Best of Simple," by Langston Hughes; Glenn North
 • 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 24: "Montage of a Dream Deferred," by Langston Hughes; Stan Banks
 • 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27: "Big Sea," by Langston Hughes; Laura Partridge

The Kansas City poetry and book discussion circles are among 20 national circle sites sponsored by the National Poetry Project. The project extends a public discussion of the legacy of renowned American poet Langston Hughes that began in 2002 with a celebration in Lawrence of the 100th anniversary of his birthday.

Sponsors for Baraka's lecture include the Kansas City Public Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Black United Front of Kansas City, SCLC of Kansas City, the creative writing program at the College of Arts and Sciences at UMKC and the UMKC Minority Affairs Office.

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