Saturday, December 2, 2017

William J. Harris and Eugene B. Redmond celebrate milestones in 2017

This year, I attended two landmark birthday celebrations. First, in March, I attended the 75th birthday party and poetry reading celebration for my professor William J. Harris. Then, last night, I attended the 80th birthday party and, yes, poetry reading celebration for my faculty mentor, Eugene B. Redmond.

It's difficult, perhaps impossible, to quantify all that I've learned about poetry, the arts, and especially Black Arts, conversing with Harris and Redmond over the last decade and a half. What I do know is that so much information would've remained hidden to me if I had not encountered them at early stages of my career.

I met Professor Harris in 1999, when I began graduate school at Pennsylvania State University. I met Professor Redmond in 2003, the year I began teaching at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I have had what amounts to a nearly endless series of discussions about artists, ideas, history, music, and one of my favorite topics, Amiri Baraka.

Both birthday celebrations were festival affairs, and all kinds of people. I talked with poets Cornelius Eady and Tracie Morris at Harris's party, and I got a chance to have an extended conversation with publisher Paul Coates's at Redmond's event.  And of course, gatherings done in the name of Harris and Redmond always involve poetry.

A Notebook on William J. Harris
A Notebook on Eugene B. Redmond

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