The 33rd Annual Literary Arts Festival at Citytech was a night of celebration, bringing recognition to both students and professors. In addition to selected readings, well known special guest Cornelius Eady read poetry and performed with his band called “Rough Magic.” An awards presentation, short film, dance performance and table filled with tempting snacks made everyone feel welcome.
As everyone was getting in their seats, a short film was presented to introduce us to the volunteer students who helped produce the event. Attaching words and faces to this group was fun to see. Representing at least twenty different nationalities of kids whose majors varied, told a story. Getting involved is possible for everyone. The faculty introduced themselves as the speakers prepared to come on stage. At this point it was clear that this evening was about literary arts and the creation. Although this was advertised as a celebration of black studies influence in the literary community, by the end of the night everyone was represented.
The night was filled with magic and a couple of tricks were outstanding. George Guida, Professor of English and special guest recited a poem. His talent has enabled him to travel and soak up information to use when writing. The story told was in essence about the citizens of New Orleans, before and after Katrina. We all have a vision of that hurricane and its destruction as represented on television or online. There will always be questions about the treatment of people who were suffering. Our countrys’ response and politics certainly played a role and Guida hits those notes so well. After hearing his personal story, there may not be a student that doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps.
Expressing ourselves with art is always exciting and Cornelius Eadys’ performance perpetuates this concept. Feeling his words and music, so filled with blues and jazz is such an organic experience. “I’m a Fool to Love You” is a poem he read about his mother and father uniting.
“Is the blues the moment
You shrug your shoulders
And agree, a girl without money
Is nothing, dust
To be pushed around by any old breeze”
Eady sings as he speaks and the words go straight to your heart. The concepts presented in this poem are political as well as personal. This poem describes his mothers struggle as a black woman and he wrote it after a conversation with her. His generous contribution to this festival also included his band. The bluesy -jazz filled the auditorium and echoed his words as he sung. This took me back for a moment, with my eyes closed, to another time. Perhaps I was in a smokey bar in Greenwich Village for a few.
Nights like this are meant to encourage the students as well as enhance the college experience. My personal exposure to art began as a young teenager. My father ran a university that was highly regarded in the arts as well as politics. We were all encouraged to pursue what we loved. This evening reminded me of who I am and how creativity has to be a part of my life. I really enjoyed the experience in the voices of others and am inspired to let mine be heard. As people danced, exposed the pain and growth of their lives and the hurt that can be just living, I felt as if this might be a new phase of influence in my life.
Not only was the 33rd Annual LAF a success, it brought people closer together. A college event should always remind students why education is so important. The communities you involve yourself with at this age can permanently change your growth. The evening made the future look a little brighter and being given a frame of reference for Literary Arts was the best part of the evening.