A Poetry Reading by Patricia Smith – Free and open to the Public

Madwomen Reading Series Presents
A Poetry Reading by Patricia Smith
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Kresge Theatre, Carlow University
Reading at 7:30 p.m. (book table at 7 p.m.)
Reception and book signing following the reading.



Free and open to the public

Patricia Smith, lauded by critics as “a testament to the power of words to change lives,” is the author of six acclaimed poetry volumes. Blood Dazzler, which chronicles the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. In naming the book one of NPR’s Top 5 books of 2008, John Freeman called Blood Dazzler “a fierce, blood-in-the-mouth collection” which “already has the whiff and feel of folklore.” Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), a memoir in verse, was a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and in 2013, received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year. A four-time individual champion on the National Poetry Slam—the most successful slammer in the competition’s history—Smith has also been a featured poet on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She is currently at work on the biography of Harriet Tubman, a collection of short fiction, and a coffee table book combining poetry with nineteenth century photos of African Americans.

“Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, is just beautiful—and like the America [Smith] embodies and represents—dangerously beautiful. Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah is a stunning and transcendent work of art, despite, and perhaps because of, its pain. This book shines.” – Sapphire


Sponsored by the Carlow University Division of Humanities, Creative Writing and English Departments, and Office of Diversity Initiatives in the Department of Mercy Heritage.

More information:
Sarah Williams-Devereux: sewilliams412@carlow.edu
Jan Beatty: jpbeatty@carlow.edu



Yes, There are Interesting Things to Do In Pittsburgh

Venus Play Poster




October 24th through November 10th



by Suzan-Lori Parks

A young girl. An English doctor. A harsh, unforgiving city. Come one, come all and hear the tale of the Venus Hottentot, the beautiful African dancing princess. Star of the freak shows and medical wonder. Step right up, folks. Don’t be shy. An opportunity like this comes around once in a life time.

Suzan-Lori parks’ brilliant examination of race, history, and the colonization of imagination: Venus invites you in to look closer

Bria Walker stars as Saartje (Sarah) Baartman in Venus, opening October 24 in the Studio Theatre, produced by University of Pittsburgh Stages.



The Fifth Annual Sembene African Film & Arts Festival Opens November 8, 2013

This year’s film festival is in honor of Ousmane Sembe, the Father of African Cinema.

Iconic filmmaker Ousmane Sembène [pronounced OOSman SimBEN] (1923 – 2007) is the ‘Father of African Cinema.’ Though he may not have the same notoriety as Otto Preminger or Martin Scorcese, he is regarded as one of the most prolific filmmakers of the 20th century. Sembène produced a vast body of work that spanned more than 50 years.  He was an internationally known writer before he embarked on a career as a filmmaker at age 40.  He chose film as a vehicle to reach and communicate with Africans from all parts of the continent. During his lifetime he produced nine full-length feature films, five short films, four documentaries, five novels and five collections of short stories. For the organizers of Sembène – The Film & Art Festival, the Festival serves both as a vehicle and catalyst: to honor the life, work and legacy of Ousmane Sembene and to showcase filmmakers and other art/cultural events that speak, unflinchingly, to the important issues facing the modern African Diaspora.

For more information contact Sabira Bushra, at 412-657-6916 or sembenefilmfestival@gmail.com

 Listing of Films:


Friday, November 8th – Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary

Saturday, November 19th – Mandabi (The Money Order)

Friday, November 15th – Ornette: Made In America

Friday, November 22nd – . . . But Then, She’s Betty Carter

Friday, November 29th – Urban Encounters: What to Do If You Get Stopped By the Police


All Films are Free! The Public is Welcome. The Festival Venue is the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Homewood in the Auditorium

Doors open at 5:30PM and all films start at 6:15PM

Details will posted on Sembene Film Festival website after 9/26/2013




Mumia Movie Poster

MUMIA: Long Distance Revolutionary – A Journey with Mumia Abu Jamal.

Discussion Leader: Martha R. Conley, Esq.

Before he was convicted of murdering a policeman in 1981 and sentenced to die, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a gifted journalist and brilliant writer. Now after more than 30 years in prison and despite attempts to silence him, Mumia is not only still alive but continuing to report, educate, provoke and inspire.

Stephen Vittoria’s new feature documentary is an inspiring portrait of a man who many consider America’s most famous political prisoner-a man whose existence tests our beliefs about freedom of expression. Through prison interviews, archival footage, and dramatic readings, and aided by a potent chorus of voices including Cornel West, Alice Walker, Dick Gregory, Angela Davis, Amy Goodman and others, this riveting film explores Mumia’s life before, during, and after Death Row-revealing, in the words of Angela Davis, “the most eloquent and powerful opponent of the death penalty in the world- the 21st Century Frederick Douglass.”

2011, English, 120 minutes.

Trailer: http://firstrunfeatures.com/trailers_mumia.html



Money Order Poster Mandabi (The Money Order) By Ousmane Sembène

Discussion Leader: Dr. Brenda Berrian

Ousmane Sembène’s dark comedy, Mandabi, was his second full length feature film. The film was also the first feature film made in color on the continent of Africa and the first film ever made in an African Language. … it was with Mandabi (The Money Order) in 1968, that Sembène’s dream to reconnect with Africa’s masses came through. For the first time, indeed, an African filmmaker was experimenting by using an African language (Wolof, the dominant language in Senegal), hence setting a new trend which would be followed by all film makers on the continent.”

An unexpected money order appears to be a boon to Ibrahima Dieng and his large family—but Dieng’s attempts to cash it make for a ruefully comic tour of the bureaucracy in a newly independent Senegal. “Displays a controlled sophistication in the telling that gives it a feeling of almost classic directness and simplicity” (New York Times).

1968, in Wolof with English subtitles, 90 minutes.



Ornette Movie PosterOrnette – Made In America       Pittsburgh Premiere

Discussion Leader: K. Mensah Wali


This feature-length documentary is devoted to the life and art of famed jazz musician Ornette Coleman. This film is essential for anyone hoping to understand the history of jazz and the fertile creative exchange that highlighted the 60’s and 70’s in America.  It is a portrayal of the inner life of an artist-innovator. The film focuses on the struggles and triumphs of Ornette

Coleman’s life as well as on the inspired intelligence that spawned his creativity and ensured his success. Clarke’s footage includes Ornette in conversation with family and friends; excerpts of interviews, riffs and travels, along with footage of his performances—in his hometown of Fort
Worth, TX, in New York, in Morocco and beyond—presents the most comprehensive record of his career available.

The film explores the rhythms, images and myths of America seen through the eyes of an artist’s ever-expanding imagination and experience.  It is a portrayal of the inner life of an artist-innovator.

1984, USA.  77 minutes.  Color and B&W. Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1. Mono. Filmed on location in Fort Worth, Texas; New York City; Nigeria and Morocco.

Hal Erickson, Rovi Milestone Films Site/Movie Trailer:  http://milestonefilms.com/products/ornette-made-in-america



Betty Carter Movie PosterBut Then, She’s Betty Carter     Pittsburgh Premiere

Discussion Leader: Maggie Johnson

Michele Parkerson’s documentary on the life and music of Betty Carter, but then, she’s Betty Carter has everything going for it in the talent of the black jazz vocalist herself. She not only is an accomplished singer, she had the wisdom and perseverance to stay with her vision of herself in the face of both gender and racial prejudice, which always cuts to the pocketbook as well as the heart. She says, “Getting someone to understand what kind of business you’re in, what you have to do to stay in it, and what it means to you….I think that’s very hard for men to accept.” A sign of Carter’s wisdom and patience is that most gifted women who suffered as she did would have said the same thing in scathing terms. Carter was discovered by Lionel Hampton when he and his band were in Detroit (his band included Charlie Mingus and Wes Montgomery at the time). She was standing up watching the band, scatting along with the music, and more than ready to jump in and begin her career “big time.” Yet the future was to bring her problems with major record companies and undeserved obscurity because she held to her ideals of doing

something more with her talent. This documentary highlights her 30-year career with the music she sings, still photographs of herself and other jazz musicians and reminiscences with friends like Lionel Hampton.

Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi. 1980, USA, 53 minutes.


Urban Encounters: What to Do If You Get Stopped By the Police

Discussion leader: Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant, Pittsburgh Police Dept.

Film maker Carl Clay first produced Urban Encounters as a play through the Queens, New York based Black Spectrum Theater Company before putting it to film.   This film explores the issue of what youth should do if they get stopped by the police.  While there are no easy answers, this film uses a unique blend of street reenactments, candid interviews from around the country, advice from a panel of experts and a lot of common sense to shed light on what has become one of the burning issues of our community today.

Visit us on the web for the full schedule after 9/26/13.



The Mountain Play Bill

January 18th through February 9, 2014

The Mountaintop
by Katori Hall

Flash back to April 3, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee. Enter room 306 of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent the last night of his life. In this daring re-imagining of history, a visit from an enigmatic, young maid unveils the humanity and vulnerability of America’s larger-than-life icon.

at The City Theatre



By the Way, Meet Vera Stark PlaybillMarch 21 through Sunday April 6, 2014
(Preview March 20th)

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark

By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Tome’ Cousin

At Studio Theatre

Vera Stark is a budding actress in an era where the only roles for African-American women are maids. When she is cast in the same southern epic as her employer, an aging star grasping at her




April is National Poetry Month – Call Out to Poets

Poetry Flyer

Call out to Poets to share your expressions of Liberation, Truth, Freedom and Consciousness
in honor and celebration of Amiri Baraka.