Trinity will kick off Black History Month on Wednesday, February 3, with a poetry celebration featuring renowned author A.B. Spellman. The celebration in Social Hall begins at 4:30 pm with student performances, followed by a poetry reading by Spellman. The author will sign copies of his book of poetry, Things I Must Have Known. The event is cosponsored by the Gold Class of 2011 and Trinity Student Activities. Refreshments will be served.
Spellman is the former deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, an award-winning jazz scholar and critic, and a founding member of the Black Arts Movement. His collection of poetry, Things I Must Have Known, provides an intimate look at the milestones in American cultural life and Spellman’s own development as a writer. Touching on jazz and friendship, fatherhood and racism, urban violence and workplace politics, his confident and animated poetry tells of how it really felt to grow up black in a Jim Crow world; of the joy he felt hearing great jazz musicians live; and of the compromises and pleasures involved in a long marriage and a richly lived life. Reflecting on the book, Keorapetse Kgositsile, the South African national poet laureate wrote, “Read this collection and you will need no one to convince you that poetry is a necessity.”
Prior to his 30-year tenure at the National Endowment for the Arts that began in 1975, Spellman was an active poet, radio programmer, and essayist in New York, the poet-in-residence at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and a visiting lecturer at Emory, Rutgers, and Harvard universities. He has also been a regular jazz commentator for National Public Radio and has published numerous books and articles on the arts, including The Beautiful Days, a book of poetry, and Four Lives in the Bebop Business, a classic in the field of jazz criticism that is now available as Four Jazz Lives.
In recognition of Spellman’s commitment and service to jazz, the NEA created the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy. Additionally, the Jazz Journalists Association voted to honor Spellman with its “A Team” award, and he received the Benny Golson Award from his alma mater, Howard University. He was also a nominee for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Work of Poetry, and received an honorable mention from the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award. He lives in Washington, D.C.