Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tony Bolden, the Scholar & Cultural Organizer

Tony Bolden introducing the symposium, Nov. 10
I first met Tony Bolden the scholar some years ago on a panel at a conference. He was dropping knowledge about poetry. Listening to him at the conference later led me to his wonderful book Afro-Blue. I kept in touch with him over the years, and he became an unofficial teacher.

Or better yet a guide.
"Look at..." he might say pointing to me to this poet or that poet. Or, "go around there, make a left at...." he was basically saying when he led me to various ideas related to artistic production and culture.

In recent years, Bolden has transformed himself into a cultural organizer as well. He recently pulled off his third "Making it Funky" symposium. He held the first one at the University of Alabama in 2007. He held the second and third installments at the University of Kansas, and he held the most recent symposium this past Thursday, again at the University of Kansas.

The keynote speaker for this installment of "Make it Funky" was Adam Bradley, author Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, co-editor of The Anthology of Rap, and co-author of Common's autobiography One Day It'll All Make Sense. He raised all kinds of important ideas concerning rap music and its links to poetry and a broad range of cultural productions.

Bradley's presentation further extended Bolden's vision of organizing conferences and symposiums that highlighted the multifaceted implications of black music and artistic thought.

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