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Famed poetry house presents performances by a trio of celebrated women wordsmiths
A proud Jamaican National, Staceyann Chin is the recipient of the 2007 Power of the Voice Award from The Human Rights Campaign, the 2008 Safe Haven Award from Immigration Equality, the 2008 Honors from the Lesbian AIDS Project, the 2009 New York State Senate Award, the 2013 American Heritage Award from American Immigration Council, and the 2016 Planned Parenthood Excellence in Media award. She unapologetically identifies as Caribbean and Black, Asian and lesbian, woman and resident of New York City. Staceyann’s voice was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where she spoke candidly about her experiences of growing up on the island of Jamaica and the dire consequences of her coming-out there. Widely known as co-writer and original performer in the Tony award winning, Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, her poetry has seen the rousing cheers of the Nuyorican Poets’ Café, one-woman shows Off-Broadway, writing-workshops in Sweden, South Africa, and Australia. Chin’s three one-woman shows, Hands Afire, Unspeakable Things, and Border/Clash all opened to rave reviews at the Culture Project in New York City. Staceyann is the author of the memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, and is currently touring MotherStruck, her critically acclaimed solo theater piece, directed by Cynthia Nixon, and produced by Rosie O’Donnell, chronicling her incredible experiences about motherhood, which opened in New York, in December, of 2015. Be it on “60 Minutes,” in the New York Times, or The UK guardian, Staceyann has a reputation for telling it exactly like it is.
Ntozake Shange is one of America’s greatest living writers, an acknowledged master in the genres of drama, fiction, memoir, and poetry (having written 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, 6 novels, 5 children’s books, 3 collections of essays, and a partial memoir). Shange was raised mainly in Trenton, NJ and St. Louis, MO. Attending Barnard College in the late 1960’s, she came under the influence of a wide variety of radical movements, including the antiwar Vietnam protests, feminism, the black arts and black liberation movements, the Puerto Rican liberation movement, and the Sixties sexual revolution. She soon became a voice for all these social justice movements, especially representing the ongoing struggle of black women for equality, dignity, and respect for their enormous contribution to human culture. Her theatre piece For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf (dubbed a “choreopoem” for its highly original combination of music, poetry, and dance) was a stunning, TONY-nominated success on Broadway in 1976-1977 (previously having won an Obie). Shange won a 2nd Obie in 1981 for her adaptation of Berthold Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children at the Public Theater. Other awards include an Outer Critics Circle Award, an AUDELCO award, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund annual writer’s award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry, the Paul Robeson Achievement Award, the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, a New Federal Theatre lifetime achievement award, and the Medal of Excellence from Columbia University. She has also been nominated for Grammy, and Emmy awards and named winner of the 2016 Langston Hughes Medal for Literature.
Born to a Japanese American mother and Jewish American father, Sarah Kay grew up in NYC with an intense drive to express herself. At only fourteen years old, she was already performing at the famed Bowery Poetry Club in the East Village. Two years later, she founded (and remains co-director of) Project V.O.I.C.E., an organization that utilizes original spoken word as an instrument to teach and inspire. She has shared her poetry on six of the seven continents, and is perhaps best known for her talk at the 2011 TED conference, which garnered two standing ovations and has been viewed over nine million times online. She’s performed on such diverse stages as the Malthouse Theater in Melbourne, Australia; The Royal Danish Theater in Copenhagen, Denmark, the United Nations and Carnegie Hall in New York City, among hundreds of other venues. Sarah holds a Master’s Degree in The Art of Teaching from Brown University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Grinnell College. She has penned three books of poetry: No Matter the Wreckage in 2014, B in 2015, and The Type in 2016. A passionate educator, Sarah has worked with the National Association of Independent Schools and International Baccalaureate Organization, fervently promoting Project