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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Celebrating the Living Legend: Russell Atkins

Celebrating the Living Legend: Russell Atkins


Contact: Sheba Marcus-Bey
Phone (216) 541-4128
sheba.marcus-bey@ecpl.lib.oh.us
14101 Euclid Avenue
East Cleveland, OH 44112

East Cleveland, OH, October 25, 2014:  Four Friends of Russell Atkins, in collaboration with East Cleveland Public Library, is proud to present a program “Celebrating the Living Legend: Russell Atkins” on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Greg L. Reese Performing Arts Center, 14101 Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland, OH 44112.
The event seeks to pay tribute to Cleveland’s long-standing iconoclast, who has been known as an avant-garde poet, dramatist, musical composer, and editor throughout his lengthy and productive career. The program will feature music, tributes, and readings of Atkins’ poetry. The 88-year-old Atkins will be in attendance. Atkins is the subject of a new book, Russell Atkins: On the Life and Work of an American Master (Pleiades Press), edited by Kevin Prufer, a native Clevelander now at the University of Houston, who will speak at the event.
In 1950, Atkins cofounded Free Lance, which is one of the oldest black-owned literary magazine. Through this publication of avant-garde writing, Atkins contributed to the development of New American poetry. During his career, Atkins corresponded with famous twentieth-century poets Langston Hughes and Marianne Moore.
The event is planned by four writers who have been helping Atkins in his recent transition to a nursing home: Yaseen AsSami, Diane Kendig, Robert McDonough, and Shaheed Mutawaf. “It was a difficult time,” said Kendig, “Much of his life’s work was destroyed in the move.” Their friendships with Atkins go back to creative writing workshops in the 1960s and 70s, and they wanted to rally to his support. “We had a birthday party for him in February,” says Kendig, “and writers came out from all over Cleveland and from out of state in a Northeast Ohio blizzard to be there, with cards pouring in front all over the U.S. He is clearly loved and respected.”
When the group contacted the East Cleveland Public Library for the event, Executive Director Sheba Marcus-Bey quickly responded with the invitation for the library to host the event. “We are happy to offer a venue and resources to celebrate such an esteemed, creative force. We are honored to host this event,” says Marcus-Bey.
Following with the program, there will be a reception and sale of the book. The public is welcome to attend. Further information is available through the East Cleveland Public Library, (216) 541-4128 and Diane Kendig, (330) 479-7132 or Mutawaf Shaheed (216) 272-1509.


Russel Atkins, On the Life and Work of an American Master:
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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau