This audio was recorded at Dia:Chelsea on March 15, 2012 as part of Dia's Readings in Contemporary Poetry series.
Perhaps best known as a leader of the spoken word poetry movement, including slam and hiphop poetries, Bob Holman recently published his fifteenth book, Picasso in Barcelona (Paper Kite Press). This follows A Couple of ways of Doing Something, a collaboration with Chuck Close (Aperture) and Crossing State Lines: An American Renga from Farrar Strauss (co-editor). He teaches at Columbia and NYU and is a founder of the Bowery Poetry Club where he serves as Artistic Director. He is a proponent of poetry-media collaborations, producing five seasons of "Poetry Spots" for WNYC-TV, winning three Emmys; his five-part PBS series, The United States of Poetry, won an INPUT (International Public Television) Prize. He was the host of MTV's "Spoken Word Unplugged," appeared on "HBO Def Poetry Jam," and created the first major spoken word record label, Mouth Almighty/Mercury. His current mission is bringing attention to Endangered Languages -- half the languages on earth will disappear this century. His 3-part series on this subject, "On the Road," is available on LinkTV, and he is in preparation for "Word Up!", a 90-minute special for PBS. Recent travels have been to Wales (he is learning Welsh), and to the griots of West Africa and their counterpart, the azmaris of Ethiopia. He is co-director of the Endangered Language Alliance.
Alhaji Papa Susso is a master kora player and oral historian from The Gambia, West Africa. Hailing from a long line of griots (traditional oral historians) of the Mandinka people, he was taught the kora by his father and has been playing since the age of five. The kora, a 21-stringed harp-lute, is the preferred instrument of Mandinka Jalolu (Griot), itinerant musicians who were traditionally attached to royal courts where their duties included recounting the tribal history and genealogy, composing commemorative songs, and performing at important tribal events. Today Papa Susso is a goodwill ambassador traveling around North America, giving both classroom presentations and formal concert performances where he recounts the history of his country and his people, discusses the roles of griots in West African culture, and performs the classic songs of the griot repertoire.
Thomas Fink and Bob Holman read that evening.
To hear Vincent Katz's introduction to Bob Holman, please click here.