On April 12 and 13, 2017, the Margaret Walker Center will host the 11th annual Creative Arts Festival on the campus of Jackson State University. This year’s keynote speaker will be Cornelius Eady, founder of Cave Canem, a national organization for African American poetry and poets.
The keynote address will be at 10:30 a.m. in the JSU Student Center Theater on Thursday, April 13.
Eady is the author of eight books of poetry, including Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems (Putnam, April 2008). His second book, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, won the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1985. In 2001, Brutal Imagination was a finalist for the National Book Award. In April 1999, Running Man, a music-theatre piece, co-written with jazz musician Diedre Murray, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and a production of Brutal Imagination with a score by Diedre Murray won the 2002 Oppenheimer Award for the best first play by an American Playwright.
“The Creative Arts Festival is an opportunity for us to continue a tradition that Margaret Walker began when she founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People in 1968. She was intentional about bringing scholars and artists to Jackson State to interact with her students and to lift up those students in their work,” said Dr. Robert Luckett, one of the festival coordinators.
The festival stems from Margaret Walker’s 1973 letter to Roy Basler, chief of the manuscript division at the Library of Congress. In the letter, Walker announced a conference with “20 outstanding black women who are poets” at Jackson State College to celebrate the bicentennial of Phillis Wheatley’s book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.
An awards ceremony, including the annual $1,000 Margaret Walker Award for the best essay by a JSU student, will conclude the Festival at 4:00 p.m. in the Student Center Theater on Thursday, April 13.