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October 17, 2013

Acclaimed writer to keynote Olson tribute

Amiri Baraka — a novelist, poet, activist, and one of the most widely published African-American writers — will give the keynote address at the fourth annual Charles Olson lecture at the Cape Ann Museum Saturday at 1 p.m.

This program is free and open to the public. The annual lecture is sponsored by Gloucester Writers Center, the Cape Ann Museum, and the Charles Olson Society.

Baraka’s literary honors include an Obie Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and a lifetime achievement award from the Before Columbus Foundation.

Baraka will speak in general on the late Gloucester poet Charles Olson’s effect on him as a writer, and specifically about an essay called “Charles Olson and Sun Ra: A Note on Being Out.”

Baraka’s visit is being hailed by Henry Ferrini of the Gloucester Writer’s Center.

“What an honor to Olson and Gloucester to have this esteemed poet in our city to speak not only about Olson’s influence but the connections to a seminal avant-garde composer concerned with the dialectics of SPACE, “ Ferrini said.

Baraka was last in Gloucester in 1959.

In 1957 he co-edited the avant-garde literary magazine Yugen and founded the Totem Press, which first published Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Charles Olson.

Among his many publications his “Blues People: Negro Music in White America” (1963) is still regarded as the seminal work on Afro-American music and culture. For more information or to make reservations call 978-283-0455 x16.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

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