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Freelance Journalist

penny_dickerson_caro_article-small_26761Contact: pennydickersonwrites@gmail.com

Penny Dickerson is an independent journalist with a passion for cool people, extraordinary places, and good sushi.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) and an Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA).

 

Temple UniversityLesley LogoPassionate about words and writing, Penny has augmented her freelance writing life by previously working as an adjunct English professor at  Florida State College at Jacksonville where she once taught English composition and Humanities courses including Writing for Non-Fiction, Introduction to Literature,     & Film and Literature.

Media contributions include: Orlando Arts Magazine, Jacksonville Arts & Business Magazine (ARBUS), EBONY.com, New America Media, Equal Voice, Miami Times,Mosaic Literary Magazine, Florida Times-Union, Florida Courier, Philadelphia Stories, Daytona Times, Tallahassee Women’s Magazine and others.

Journalism fellowships awarded include the New America Media Four Freedoms Fund Fellowship (2013); Henry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship (2015); Marguerite Casey Equal Voice Fellowship (2015) Continue Reading »

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Penny Dickerson Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

John Jay LogoThe Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

 

http://flcourier.com/2015/01/22/florida-courier-writer-gets-guggenheim-fellowship

Florida Courier writer awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Filed under FLORIDA, FRONT PAGE, LEAD STORIES, LOCAL NEWS, NEWS 

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Florida Courier writer Penny Dickerson was selected as one of 20 U.S. journalists from print, online and broadcast outlets to receive an H.F. Guggenheim reporting fellowship organized by the New York City-based John Jay Center on Media, Crime and Justice housed at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

Penny Dickerson Freelance Journalist & Adjunct ProfessorOver the next year, the Florida Courier will publish a series of stories titled, “Race, Justice, Community: Can We All Get Along?” written by Dickerson, a veteran journalist based in Jacksonville.

Dickerson is the third Florida Courier writer to receive a journalism fellowship. Senior Editor Jenise Griffin Morgan was awarded a 2013-2014 Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism. Publisher Charles W. Cherry II is a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow.

Diverse experience
Dickerson, a longtime contributor to the Florida Courier, has been a freelance reporter since 2001, advancing from local to more regional and national affiliates. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Temple University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Continue Reading »

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Penny Dickerson Awarded New America Media Fellowship

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2015 Equal Voice Fellows and Scholars Announced

NEW YORK — (August 21, 2015) — Marguerite Casey Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2015 Equal Voice Fellowship and Scholarship.

Sixty journalists nationwide competed this year for six journalism grants to support at least one or a series of investigative and exploratory reporting projects on critical poverty issues in underserved communities. These include projects on faces of poverty in the southern Appalachian region; economic struggles that Latino families face in Los Angeles; and the interface between poverty, race, gender and HIV.

Selected fellows will receive a stipend of $2,250, plus up to $1,000 in travel reimbursement, while $500 and up to $800 in travel reimbursement for the scholars. Continue Reading »

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Exploring Kongo Art & Culture (Harn Museum)

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[AFRICAN CONNECTION] Kongo Across the Waters

Penny Dickerson explores the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art’s  celebration of the Kongo Kingdom

Click here to read link to Ebony.com:
Ndunga MaskThe global perception of Africa is  often lathered with stunning scenery from the Serengeti and the symbolic pride  of former South African president Nelson Mandela. Indeed, the second  largest continent in the world is an amazing conglomerate of regions—a resource  for wealth and a tourist magnet for its sprawling beauty. But beyond the  beatitudes are historic war atrocities, an AIDS epidemic, gross famine and  shameful middle passage origins. If respectable balance exists, it’s the uplift  and celebration of the rich culture Africans have contributed to  humanity. Among them are archived remains which confirm the relevance of a  powerful kingdom called Kongo.

Kongo Across the Waters is a groundbreaking art exhibit that opened  October 22 at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art (at the University of  Florida—Gainesville). The vast installation invites a national audience to tour  distinct, artistic aspects of Africa for free. With an emphasis on West Central  Africa, more than 160 maps, artifacts, sculptures and contemporary works  comprise an impressive collection spanning 500 years that is educational in  approach, yet culturally appreciative through creative layout and  design.

“At its height, the Kongo Kingdom occupied a pivotal  position—geographically, geopolitically and culturally—in the continent’s early  interaction with Western colonial powers, creating a legacy that can still be  felt today in the Diaspora communities of the American Southeast,” offered Susan  Cooksey, curator of African art at the Harn. “We’re especially pleased to  include in this exhibition several artifacts from the Kongo Diaspora that have  rarely been seen in a museum setting.”

Kongo 2

The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren, Belgium co-organized  the unique collaboration with the Harn museum, which was inspired by numerous  directors, curators and scholars who have invested decades of study in African  Art. Serendipity merged initial meetings between Guido Gryseels, the  director of RMCA, and David Sammons, dean of the University of Florida  International Center. Perhaps yards away on the same campus, Cooksey and  colleague Dr. Robin Poynor, professor of art history, were in the midst of  ongoing discussions to develop an exhibition dedicated solely to the Kongo. All  great minds eventually met and Harn Museum director Rebecca Nagy unequivocally  endorsed the genesis of Kongo Across the Waters.

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According to Dr. Poynor, who has authored numerous books on  African art, the Kongo kingdom was chosen for the exhibit for a number of  reasons. “They have exquisite art, they were one of the early kingdoms  known throughout Europe, and the Kongos were involved in the early slave trade,  so there were a great number of Kongos who not only sent slaves out but came as  slaves,” Poynor explained. “An underlying foundation for African-American  culture is Kongo culture.”

The task of compiling a “visitor-friendly” exhibition void of complexity  could have been daunting for the team; however, innovation, accurate timelines  and a commitment to dignify and uphold the ancestral heritage, philosophies and  preserved Kongo identity served as formidable guidelines for success.Bedia-Sarabanda_CP

Thematically divided into five distinct sections, Kongo  Across the Waters begins with 1598 European maps of the “Congo” depicting  the Kongo Kingdom as a separately established territory from the town of Mbanza  Kongo, located south of the Congo River. The Kongo kingdom was in place prior to  European arrival in 1483, but when the kingdom actually began remains  debatable.

First and foremost the exhibit is about the Kongo people—their lives,  customs, and culture. Kongo nobility and elitism is evidentiary as they  exchanged prestigious gifts with Europeans, which illustrates the Kongolese were  intellectual and savvy traders who later evolved as artists that recognized  their masterpieces were valuable commerce. An array of antiquated wood, copper,  brass and metal crucifix symbols and Saint Anthony figures substantiates that  Christianity conversion and religious zeal served powerful roles in Kongo  culture.Nkisi

Museum walls painted in earthen-tone hues separate each  exhibit section, further complemented by larger than life murals to create a  powerful visual aesthetic. While most of the authentic arts and artifacts are on  loan from Belgium’s RMCA, Kongo culture travels across the water that brought  African-Americans like cargo to the United States in 1619 during the slave trade  in a section II segue.

Recent excavations reveal startling archaeology discoveries exposing  cultural treasures, ranging from a jeweled rosary with two medals and a  conjurer’s cache of stone, pins and quart found in the Charles Carroll house  excavation in Annapolis, Maryland. The latter is believed to be the personal  hidings of an enslaved woman. Colonoware pottery from the Dean Hall plantation  in South Carolina and Ft. Mose in Florida are also on view.

Culture and custom merge in sections III and IV, as the  exhibit visually crosses the water and returns to the Kongo kingdom, where rites  and rituals are explored in the examples of iron and vegetal fiber double bell, ngongi, and wood carved whistles. A Voudou (voodoo) Medicine  Packet from the History Miami Museum resonates the role of early Haitian  spiritual beliefs.

Huge Nkisi

Hanging displays of massive raffia mats and stunning textiles used to lay  upon graves and numerous “anthropomorphic power figures” known as nkisi reinforce that Africans believed in the preservation of life through  healing, embraced high regard for the existence of spirits, and gave eternal  honor to the dead.

Remarkable is the selection of contemporary art submitted by  a culturally diverse quintet of artists, which brings the five-century Kongo  journey millennium-forward. Among the standouts is a mixed-media collage by  Radcliffe Bailey. The framed “medicine cabinet” traces his own identity and  roots, including his DNA sequence to slave ships, Marcus Garvey and more.RB08%20001%20Returnal%20HR_CP

An interactive music platform includes sound sticks and earphones that allow  patrons to experience five separate tracks of traditional Kongo music, while a  commissioned video produced by a Louisiana trio (Royce Osborn, Freddie Evans  Williams and Luther Gray) combines the folkways and emerged customs from gospel  to hambone to juba and jazz.

From coiled baskets and bowls, pots topped by human figures,  face vessels from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and an  extraordinaire 20th century memory jar, Kongo Across the Waters gives honor to a  delicately restored and preserved cultural heritage African-Americans perhaps  unknowingly retain to this day.Kongo 5

Kongo Across the Waters will remain in Gainesville, Florida until  March 23, 2014.

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Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/photos/life/african-connection-kongo-across-the-waters-999#ixzz2l0x5AAYq Follow us: @EbonyMag on Twitter | EbonyMag on Facebook

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Re-Discovering America: The Kinsey Collection

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Click link to read: “Re-Discovering America: The Kinsey Collection

http://issuu.com/cfcgllc/docs/floridacourier_03202015/9?e=4739009/11932914

Kinsey Tear SheetOne of my favorite subjects and three of my favorite people are Bernard, Shirley, and Khalil Kinsey: The Kinsey Family.

Not only is their commitment to family and each other admirable, but what a story! A genuine American fairytale of how perseverance, patience, commitment, and keeping your heart in the right place will  lead to bringing your dreams into fruition and making a difference in the world.

The Kinsey Collection is one our “jewels.” Continue Reading »

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Angela Robinson “Jacksonville’s OWN Star!”

Arbus NovDec 2013 FKudos to Angela Robinson for serving as a master-example of how a girl with a dream can become a woman boasting stardom.  She is a Jacksonville-native and graduate of William M. Raines High School who has journeyed a route to be admired and an apt lesson for all who dare to dream and are confronted with the “fear of failure.” Angela looking beautiful

What knows Angela Robinson of failure? Nothing. Disappointments? Yes, but she has persevered and shares with readers how they, too, can do the same.

Click the Link below to read: Angela Robinson, “Jacksonville’s OWN Star!”

http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=186755&p=52

Beyond her natural beauty is an admirable narrative that takes readers from the halls of her high school years to the Broadway stage.  Now, she’s a leading television actress on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network in Tyler Perry’s first scripted drama, “The Haves and The Have Nots.”

Haves and Have Nots

 

Angela Robinson over Jacksonville

Click the Link below to read: Angela Robinson, “Jacksonville’s OWN Star!”

http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?i=186755&p=52

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Frankie Beverly’s Amazing Career

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March 25, 2014

Frankie Beverly Talks 38 Years of Maze [INTERVIEW]

The voice behind every Black picnic, BBQ and wedding of the past four decades discusses the longevity of Maze

By Penny Dickerson 

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The one, the only Mr. Frankie Beverly

Every funk band has a front man. It’s an old-school law obeyed by Maurice White, whose vocals reigned supreme as Earth, Wind and Fire’s fourth element, and Sugarfoot, who kept the Ohio Players roller-coastin’. Frankie Beverly is every bit as iconic—a raw soul master.

He’s the sing-and-sweat powerhouse who personified all-white sexy before Diddy anointed the Hamptons. He’s the stylin’ lady magnet who catapulted the baseball cap as much as the hip-hop movement. And he’s amazing—world-renowned and still selling out world venues with the Maze sextet right behind him.

RELATED: [VINTAGE VISION] MARVIN GAYE GETS IT ON

An inside glimpse reveals a man whose conversation feels familiar without flirtation, save for an occasional “honey” or “sweetie” to segue thoughts. But Frankie Beverly is California cool, a tempered spirit; just an ordinary guy from Philadelphia who turned a “doo-wop” dream into a mind-blowing career.

Beverly’s Beginnings

Born Howard Beverly, the future Frankie Beverly harbored so much love for heartthrob Frankie Lymon that he jacked his name. “I was Frankie Lymon crazy when he came on the scene,” he admits. “People would call me ‘Little Frankie.’ I used to sing Frankie Lymon songs on street corners and people use to throw me money.”

The labyrinth to stardom is a story told over and over, and shared by many in Beverly’s era. In Frankie’s case, church singing transitioned to a teen group called The Butlers, which musically morphed into Frankie Beverly’s Raw Soul. The big break came when the one and only Marvin Gaye made the band his opening act with a single stipulation:  change the name. That nudge originated the moniker that stuck: Maze.

Now Beverly is 67, and the Maze’s “raw soul” identity is more frequently marketed as urban contemporary soul. Their loyal fan base is trained to expect timeless music, as Frankie leads “Joy and Pain” and “The Morning After” jam sessions. Both tunes are legendary for making grown women (and some men) straight scream.

Gratitude, God, but no Grammy

Gratitude and humility seem to precede any and all Frankie Beverly motives, and no one is more surprised by his career than the man who made “Happy Feelings” an anthem long before Bobby McFerrin or Pharrell Williams whistled hits.

“I am most amazed by the success of our longevity,” says Beverly. “I never, ever, ever thought it would be like this. I’m laid back, and I know music is a gift given to me to initiate, and I take that serious. I thank God I have people around me I can trust, they’ve been with me for 30 to 40 years. It’s a real blessing.”

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, ‘Joy and Pain’

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, ‘Joy and Pain’

Despite an amassed catalogue of classics, the Maze featuring Frankie Beverly Grammy Award remains elusive, but it’s an industry snub Beverly takes in stride. “The love the people give us is most amazing,” he offers. “I don’t care about no Grammys. It’s about the reward, not the award. I walk around on my knees I’m so thankful.”

Sam Cooke—Still His Main Man

Does Frankie Beverly meditate? Yes. Does he work out to stay in shape? Negative. He claims no special fitness regime and cites the stage as his ultimate workout. Beverly also hasn’t eaten red meat in 35 years—occasionally chicken, and fish “for protein.”

A high-octane schedule defines Beverly’s existence, so what (if anything) does he listen to for slowing down his internal metronome?

“I don’t really play a lot of music, believe it or not. And when I do, I prefer jazz,” said Beverly, who reiterated a preference for the standards. “I like smooth jazz too, but Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, those guys really still do it for me. At this time in my life, jazz does it. I tell you who I really like is Chris Botti. His music is very nice. But I still like listening to Sam Cooke.”

The late Cooke remains Beverly’s lifelong inspiration. “We were at Philly’s Uptown Theatre trying to get his autograph. [I] said, ‘Mr. Cooke, Mr. Cooke, can you sign mine?’ He said, ‘Have you guys ever been backstage? Well, come on!’ ” The story is credited for Beverly’s own generosity. “I don’t turn people down. I always think of Sam Cooke and how kind and patient he was. He didn’t have to do that for us.”

Beverly on Beyoncé

Frankie Beverly has a simple message for today’s musicians: get back to basics.

“You have to still go back. It’s hard for today’s industry. Studios can’t get business; people are using machines. No matter how much money is at stake, people still want the ‘real deal.’ I want today’s music acts to return to the real deal. No mixing, no machines.”

Black women nationwide owe Beverly a bevy of thanks for time-honored respect. But for the music industry’s hardest working and wealthiest woman, he offers a profitable prediction: “I think Beyoncé is ready to take her next step, and I tell you what I mean by that. She can really sing, but I would like to see her show her skills. I mean, she’s a mom and a wife now. So I’d love to hear her record Christmas carols or perform live with an orchestra… just sing.”

New Music from Maze

A wisdom grin and goatee with gray sprouts are a welcome presence for Beverly, who resides in California’s Bay Area and is “grandpa swaggadocious” to three precocious grand fans he insists “use and abuse him.” Mention retirement and he balks.

“I hope not,” he says. “Something would have to be wrong [with me]. I just want to keep on doing this until I can’t do it anymore.” And he doesn’t plan to stop. But will the eternal performer’s career be complemented by new music?

“I’ve been thinking about it, but ya know, we are a working act,” he says. “It’s not like I can tour and come home. I can’t make great music that way. Back when it was the Kool Jazz and Budweiser Festivals, we could work three months and then take time off to go into the studio. But we aren’t going to piecemeal making music.”

Beverly vows the new music will still be love music—life music— and that he and Maze aren’t going to stray from what they’ve been doing.

“I’m tickled about a new piece on the album titled ‘The Jam of My Life’,” Beverly shared with a sinister snicker. “You meet someone, but you’re already with someone. I know about that all too well, and athletes and these young musicians—or the average person who just has a lot to do—they know these situations all well too.”

We Are One

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly has unified the masses with a legion of hits, but the single closest to Beverly’s heart is 1983’s “We Are One.” No explanation is needed. Still, he offers this: “It’s true. If you are lucky enough to travel around the world, you’ll find we’re all the same and want the same thing: love! People for the most part are good. If not, we would have torn the world apart by now. I’ve learned to not be racist in my life. Our White brothers are our brothers too, and I’m not trying to be some kind of love guru or anything. We are the same.”

Penny Dickerson is a Florida-based journalist whose work can be viewed at pennydickersonwrites.com.

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/frankie-beverly-talks-38-year-of-maze-388#ixzz2xVpCryi5

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Interview with Sonia Sanchez: Truth to Power

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Click link to read full interview on EBONY.com

http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/sonia-sanchez-speaks-truth-to-power-999#axzz303gQy0U3

Sonia Sanchez Speaks Truth to Power, Poetically [INTERVIEW]

The legendary poetic icon speaks on the Black Arts Movement and the ancestor voices of African-American letters

By Penny Dickerson

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Sonia Sanchez, great voice of the Black Arts Movement and beyond

Consider it a creative insult to limit poetry’s national recognition to the month of April. Nonetheless, I thank the establishment (a.k.a. the Academy of American Poets) for establishing National Poetry Month, as readers politely dust the dirt off poetry titles too often neglected. For sure, every day African-American poets amass work worthy to be read, studied, praised and adored worldwide.

What better authority than the legendary poet Sonia Sanchez to magnify the art form that pre-dates David’s psalms and continues to emerge through brilliant poetic voices—many of whom owe Sanchez praise for her tutelage?

RELATED: AMIRI AMOUR: BARAKA IN MEMORIUM

A formalist with wide poetic range, Sanchez’s vast body of work includes poems that delve into themes that resonate with those who’ve known isolation’s dance. She is liberation and libations; she is Home Coming and Home Girls & Hand Grenades; she is A Blue Book for a Blue Black Magic Woman and We a BaddDDD People.

The poetic spirit born as Wilsonia Bonita Driver has yet to rest.

She’s still writing and taking West Philadelphian three-mile strolls on a good day. Her open discourse is insatiable and leaves readers savoring her own recall of the 1960s Black Arts Movement, and inclusion in the Broadside Quartet collective (alongside poets and writers Haki R. Madhubuti, Etheridge Knight, Gwendolyn Brooks and, later, Nikki Giovanni).

She is exudes humility to the hilt, yet passionately embodies her indomitable role as activist, womanist, optimist and humanist. The consummate conversationalist talks to EBONY about her creative lifeline: poetry.

If the nuances of poetry render you lost beyond the random hip-hop couplet, Sanchez offers an apt definition of the art form in plain speak:

“To me, poetry is many things,” she begins. “Poetry is life, it is water, it is earth, it is sound, it is music, it is language that allows us to stay alive. Poetry is ancient, it is new, it is old, it is current. Poetry is a baby’s smile when he or she is smiling at you. Poetry is a burp from a child who is well fed. Poetry is a kiss from your lover. Poetry is a handshake from comrades. Poetry is a hug. But most of all, poetry is a language that says, ‘stay alive, do not die on me, do not move away from life.’ Because poetry is life, and it keeps people alive.” Eloquent.

Icons and influential legends of the Black poetic experience are now gone (most recently Amiri Baraka and Gil Scott-Heron). They served as pillars of artistic strength and have transitioned from earthly assignment, but their artistic contributions are eternal. Sanchez expounds on what it means to be a legacy beyond a poem published on a page.

“There are so many who are legends and gone,” she recounts. “Jane Cortez, Amiri Baraka, sculptor Elizabeth Catlett—who was a dear friend—Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, June Jordan. We’ve lost so many and have been speaking at so many funerals. But they are not dead, because they helped us change towards changing the world. And there is really no such thing as dead, as long as we do the work we are put on this earth to do and as long as we leave behind a legacy of work.

“It is a legacy that says simply, ‘I am a human being,’ ” she continues, “I must walk upright as a human being, I must make sure that other people learn to walk upright as a human being too. These are all great writers who maintained a certain amount of consciousness about the world, about themselves, and about what it meant to be a woman, what it meant to be a man, what it meant to be Black, what it meant to be a lesbian, what it meant to be gay, what it meant to walk upright on this earth. And what it meant to change the world, what it meant to say, ‘I am’.”

Says Sanchez, “The late, great Amiri Baraka came out of the village, that Beat Movement, up out of Harlem to start the Black Arts Repertory Theater which we all belonged to.”

In the mid-1960s, Baraka sent letters that called upon musicians, actors, poets, playwrights and teachers to come and do the work of social uplift uptown in Harlem. He urged them to “Come help me continue Malcolm’s work.” This era became known amongst them as A.M. (After Malcolm), and influenced the poetic writing of self and soul for Sanchez and others in the Black Arts Movement.

Sanchez recalls those defining times.

“I remember in that place at [Black Arts Repertory Theater], Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., Abbey Lincoln—that gorgeous woman, that genius of a singer with her beautiful, short natural—came and talked about, Who will revere the Black woman?

“It was an amazing moment for all of us Black women who sat there and listened to her talk. And [we] said, ‘I want to be like her, and look like her too.’ That was the joy of doing that kind of work.”

Poet-actor Saul Williams immortalized the hip-hop generation’s slam poetry in 1998’s Slam. Russell Simmons advanced spoken work via HBO’s Def Poetry. And we all love the mid-air finger snappin’ of the modern romance classic Love Jones. But poetry, spoken work or no, is not nouveau, nor has it outgrown its metaphoric roots. Sanchez balances the oral tradition’s truth with both wisdom and a charge.

“From the very beginning, poetry was to be spoken out loud,” she says. “It was very much a part of both community and tradition. At a birth, someone would write a poem; at a death someone would write a poem. There was always music too, and that part is not new.”

Since her earliest days writing about being a little girl, alone and not feeling pretty, Sanchez has since published 16 books of her own, but suggests all poets read the classics.

A lot of my undergraduate students go on to graduate school and say, ‘Langston Hughes is too simple.’ And then I say, very calmly and in as gentle a fashion as I can, ‘No, no, no, no, this not a simple poet.’ I recommend every kind of poet from Langston to Baraka, Lorde, Nikki, June Jordan and Robert Bly. But I also recommend Adrienne Rich to Pablo Naruda to the great Nicolas Guillen, whom I met when I went to Cuba.”

Sanchez says she has notebooks with “more than a million writings never published,” and continues to write in her study with a photo of Guillen, Langston and Ernest Hemingway above her head.

“A poet writes ’til their last breath,” she says with finality.

Penny Dickerson is a Florida-based journalist whose work can be viewed at pennydickersonwrites.com.

 

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ENZIAN Theatre & Florida Film Festival 2015

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If by chance you have not caught wind of or visited first hand one of Florida’s finest establishments, allow me to introduce you. “The Enzian Theatre,” indulges adults via cinematic cool, an on-site-upscale “Eden Bar” and gourmet food that makes popcorn seem soooooo yesterday, read my feature on the 30th Anniversary of ENZIAN and the 2015 Florida Film Festival just published in the March/April 2015 issue of Orlando Arts Magazine.

 Click link to read Penny Dickerson’s feature.

OAM M-A 15 Feature-FFF

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