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Poetry reading with jazz quartet to open Ellison centennial events

BY ROD JONES, Oklahoma City University Modified: January 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm •  Published: January 29, 2013

A creative writing faculty member at Oklahoma City University will present a poetry reading accompanied by a jazz quartet at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 to open the state’s Ralph Ellison Centennial celebration.

The performance featuring poet Quraysh Ali Lansana and the New Growth Jazz Quartet is the first in a series of events to honor Ellison, the internationally known award-winning author who was born and raised in Oklahoma City.

The performance is free to the public and will be held in the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel on NW 23 between Kentucky and Blackwelder avenues.

The focus of the Ralph Ellison Centennial Celebration is to ensure Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma recognize Ellison through public events and the establishment of other Ellison-related entities such as memorials and archives that will live on beyond the year-long celebration, which runs through March 2014.

Lansana is a professor in OCU’s Red Earth MFA creative writing program. Lansana was born Ron Myles in Enid and originally worked in broadcast journalism in Oklahoma.

After he lost his job and discovered the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, he moved to Chicago. There he became familiar with the local poetry scene, performing with the poetry groups Brothers in Verse and Wordsmyths.

Lansana’s books of poetry include “cockroach children: corner poems and street psalms” (1995), “Southside Rain “(2000), “They Shall Run” (2004) and “mystic turf” (2012), a book centered on Lansana’s Oklahoma experiences.

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