02/06/08 — Black poets' work featured Friday, Sunday

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Black poets' work featured Friday, Sunday

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 6, 2008 1:45 PM

From staff reports

Local actors will perform "Portrait of a People: A Survey of African American Poetry" on Friday at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the music room on the second floor of the Dogwood Building at Wayne Community College. Seating will be limited to about 100.

Seven actors will read, recite and perform poems by authors such as Phillis Wheatley, George Moses Horton, Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Langston Hughes. The play is compiled and directed by Cynthia Rose Howard.

Ms. Howard said the first poet portrayed, Phillis Wheatley, came to the U.S. as a 7-year old slave to a Boston family that educated her and recognized an extraordinary writing talent. Wheatley met Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Her poems were published in England, but not in America.

Another author, George Moses Horton, was a self-taught North Carolina slave and the first slave poet published in the U.S.

Later, Paul Lawrence Dunbar got his start with the help of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Langston Hughes began writing his blues-type poems as well as novels and plays during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.

The play contains two modern pieces, one about a Vietnam soldier, portrayed by Wayne Community College Vice President Roy White.

The other actors in the play are local teachers Yukari Carraway and Edna Turner, Mrs. Turner's 16-year-old grandson, James Johnson, 13-year-old Devin Harrison, Robert Pinder, who is in the Air Force, and Linda Barnes, a local Christian playwright.

The play is one of several events in the 2008 Wayne County Reads project, which features the book "Blood Done Sign My Name," by Timothy Tyson of Oxford.

The book is the community's fifth project of reading a book together. The first Wayne County Reads project in 2004 featured "To Kill A Mocking-bird," by Harper Lee. Then came "Big Fish" by Daniel Wallace in 2005, "Night" by Elie Wiesel and then "Walking Across Egypt" by Clyde Edgerton.