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Black Poetry Day with George Edward Tait

October 16, 2013

Program Locations:

Countee Cullen Library

Black Poetry Day recognizes the contributions of Black Poets to American life and culture. October 17th is the official day of observance. This date was chosen in honor of the birth of the 1st published African-American Poet – Jupiter Hammon, born into slavery in 1711, probably in Long Island, NY. 

George Edward Tait insists that the poet must be a historian, journalist, and prophet.  

Named "The Poet Laureate of Afrikan Nationalism" by leaders of the nationalist community, Tait's poems and articles have been published by the New York Amsterdam News, "Steppingstones: A Literary Anthology Toward Liberation," edited by James B. Gwynne, included in Herb Boyd's landmark anthology "Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America (1995),  "Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam," edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes Rivera [2001] and The Baker's Dozen: Selected Dance Poetry of George Edward Tait" published by Dance Giant Steps [2003]. 

Born in Oakland, California and raised in Harlem, Tait is a graduate of Pace University. He is the former bandleader of  "Black Massical Music," founder of The Society of Afrikan Poets and producer of "Black Words for a Wednesday Night" a seven year series of weekly poetry readings. His published works include the trilogy: "At War [1983]," "At Arms [1992]," and "Sword Songs [2011]."  He is a multi-talented musician, educator, storyteller, and activist who is celebrating his 30th year as ‘Poet Laureate of Harlem’ in 2013. 

Countee Cullen Branch is named for the famed poet of the Harlem Renaissance Era. While studying at Harvard University, Cullen became the assistant editor of Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life, a publication of the Urban League. As editor, he penned an arts column titled, “The Dark Tower.” Heiress and arts patron A’lelia Walker adopted the title for the grand salon soirees held at her Harlem mansion, the current site of this library. The Dark Tower was a famous gathering place for royalty, society people, writers, painters, dancers, singers and other creative individuals. Cullen wrote a portion of his poem “To the Dark Tower” on the salon walls. Cullen published more verse in mainstream publications than any other Harlem Renaissance writer. Until his death, he taught French and English at the all-black Frederick Douglass Junior High School in Harlem.

Visit a bust of the artist and read his best-known and most anthologized poem, “Incident,” in the Countee Cullen Branch gallery on the Mezzanine level.

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