An evening of poetry inflected with the jazz rhythms of two poets from opposite sides of the Atlantic.
Calvin Forbes grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and is a Professor at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where he teaches writing, literature, and jazz history; blues and jazz inform both the rhythm and content of his poetry.
John Barnie was born and raised in the market town of Abergavenny. He has toured throughout the UK and abroad, reading his poems and playing guitar in a number of blues and poetry bands.
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Calvin Forbes earned his MFA from Brown University and is the recipient of fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Foundation and the Washington D.C. Arts Council.
His collections of poetry to date are Blue Monday (1974), From the Book of Shine (1979), and The Shine Poems (2001). His work can be found in a wide range of anthologies, including New Black Voices and A Century in Two Decades: A Burning Deck Anthology, 1961–81, The Art of Losing, The Morrow Anthology of New American Poets, The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Visiting Walt: Poems inspired by the life and work of Walt Whitman.
He often uses ballads to tell family stories or the ups and downs of romance. But updates the tradition with surreal techniques, epigrammatic humor, and changing voices. He described his work as “simplicity shacked up with complexity.”
"Momma Said" was set to music by jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and vocalist Kurt Elling on their new grammy nominated cd Upward Spiral.
John Barnie is a poet and essayist from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. He taught for a number of years at Copenhagen University before returning to Wales to work for the political and cultural magazine Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, as assistant editor (1985-90) and editor (1990-2006).
He is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and essays, many of which are concerned with the environment and the natural world. His work has been translated into Italian, Danish and Estonian. A collection of essays, The King of Ashes, was awarded a Welsh Books Council Prize for Literature.
A blues guitarist, he has performed in a number of blues & poetry bands, including the bilingual Y Bechgyn Drwg/The Bad Boys, and the trio Hollow Log.
His latest book is a memoir, Footfalls in the Silence (Cinnamon Press). A new collection of poems, Wind Playing with a Man’s Hat, will appear in October 2016 (also from Cinnamon).
In 2016 he was one of three poets in residence at the Natural History Museum, Oxford:
LET’S DO IT
Recreate a dodo from its DNA
so it could waddle in an aviary
or among the legs of tourists on Mauritius;
call it the resurrection bird;
isn’t it ugly, what do you feed it on,
people might say
strolling to the beach café
where a blue sky meets a blue sea
dreaming of paradise
until they die.
- John Barnie, 2016