July 6, 2015

For immediate release:
Contact: Robbin Zella (203)-332-5052

Housatonic Museum of Art Presents:
Live from the POEMobile: Bridgeport Arts Fest!

Bridgeport, CT-- On Saturday, July 11th at 8:30pm, the POEMobile, a beautifully hand-painted truck covered in multilingual poetry that houses an innovative, open-air text projection system, will visit Bridgeport’s Arts Fest for the 3rd year in a row.  This popular event, led by poetry ambassador Shanna T. Melton,  features Bridgeport’s best and brightest poets performing along with their verses writ large on the façade of the McLevy Building at State and Broad Streets.

The POEMobile is presented by City Lore and Bowery Arts + Science and is sponsored by Housatonic Museum of Art at Housatonic Community College and supported in part by the Downtown Special Services District, City Lights Gallery, the National Endowment for the Arts, and by the City of Bridgeport Mayor's Office and the Bridgeport Arts + Cultural Council.

As part of the POEMobile’s event, the instrumental Impulse Ensemble will perform an introductory 30 minute set beginning at 7:30 and then accompany the poets’ performances. Impulse Ensemble  describe their sound as a free-flow fusion of World Music, Jazz and Spoken Word. It’s easy to pick out the Middle Eastern, African and Jazz elements in their sound, but their music goes far beyond any particular influence and right into a world of their own creation. The group is composed of Tony Vacca on balafon, gongs, percussion and spoken word, Jim Matus on electric laoutar and vocals and Derrik Jordan on electric violin, percussion, and vocals.

About the Poets:

Shanna T. Melton is a visual artist, poet, community organizer, and educator who  has performed in poetry venues from New York through Canada.  She is currently The Ambassador of Poetry with The Housatonic Museum of Art. Melton’s mission is to turn all her visions into reality as her work emphasizes the essence of women, men, people of color, and poetry. She plans to take her words, paintings, and ideas around the world so that people can be inspired by her work. In addition to exhibiting her paintings, Melton is the author of a collection of poetry titled A Voice in the Symphony and has a debut CD titled A Woman’s Song. She was honored by Bridgeport’s Black Pride as “A Woman to Know in 2011.”  Melton knows that the world is the best inspiration for creativity and she would like to take in as much of it as possible.  In her words, “they say the beginning of forever is in my eyes… I think I will keep them open.”

Norah Pollard received the Academy of American Poets Prize from the University of Bridgeport, and for several years edited The Connecticut River Review. Pollard has published four poetry collections, Leaning In (2003), Report from the Banana Hospital (2005), Death & Rapture in the Animal Kingdom (2009) and In Deep (2012). She has read widely from those publications at venues such as the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Yale University, Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design and Arts Café Mystic, receiving much acclaim for those readings.  A rendition of Pollard’s poetry was featured on the American Public Media broadcast series The Writer’s Almanac by host Garrison Keillor. To keep herself extant, Pollard has worked as a secretary in advertising, law, and software engineering firms as well as at the Feroleto Steel Company in Bridgeport. In earlier days she was variously a folk-singer, seam-stitcher, nanny, teacher, solderer and print shop calligrapher.

Ngoma is a performance poet, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and paradigm shifter who, for over 40 years, has used culture as a tool to raise socio-political and spiritual consciousness through work that encourages critical thought. Ngoma is a  former member of Amiri Baraka's "The Spirit House Movers and Players" and of the contemporary freedom song duo Serious Bizness. His work weaves poetry and song that raises contradictions and searches for a solution to a just and peaceful world.

Ngoma was the Prop Slam Winner of the 1997 National Poetry Slam Competition in Middletown, CT and his been published in African Voices Magazine, Long Shot Anthology, The Underwood Review, Signifyin' Harlem Review, Bum Rush the Page/Def Poetry Jam Anthology, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of Poems on the Road to PeaceYale Press, Let Loose On the World - Amiri Baraka at 75, The Understanding Between Foxes and Light, Great Weather For Media and New Rain/Blind Beggar Press 35th Anniversary Issue. He was featured in the P.B.S spoken word documentary The Apropoets with Allen Ginsburg.

Face attended his first local poetry reading, Lyrical Voices, in 2011 and was inspired by many of the performing artists he encountered there. He had never performed or written a poem before and was inspired by what he heard and he was began to network and discover other open mic nights in the area.

He became a member of the 2011 Connecticut National Poetry Slam Team Verbal Slap. Within months he performed at the famous Apollo Theater, 94.3 FM’s Neo Soul Experience and did readings through the east coast college circuit. Face is the  founder and host his own venue, Open Mic Sessions. Since discovering poetry, Face feels best when speaking from his heart,  saying, “I feel that poetry encourages healing in myself and others. By speaking my truth, I am lifted up, through poetry I have become a better man.”

Antoinette Brim is a Cave Canem Foundation fellow and author of two collections of poetry, Icarus in Love and Psalm of the Sunflower. Brim is a recipient of the Walker Foundation Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a Pushcart Prize nominee.  Her poetry, memoir and critical work  has appeared in various journals, anthologies and magazines.  Brim is a former guest host of Patrick Oliver’s Literary Nation Talk Radio (KABF 88.3 in Little Rock, AR) for which she interviewed a variety of entertainers, literary figures, political pundits and community developers. A sought after speaker, editor, educator and consultant, Brim is an Assistant Professor of English at Capital Community College.

Lytasha Marie is a young writer, educator, motivator, mother and lover of words. She has been featured on stages with literature legends such as Nikki Giovonni and the late Dr. Maya Angelou. Her goal is to help the next generation to use writing as a therapeutic and creative outlet to discuss the issues that they face within their lives and communities.

She has a M.A. in Women's Studies from Southern Connecticut State University where she focused on Programming and Curriculum Development. Her special project centered on creating and implementing her signature program, "She's A B.O.S.S. Beyond Ordinary Setting the Standard" which focuses on young urban women ages 14 to25. She is currently working on a novel titled This is 25 and looks forward to publishing several children's books focusing on self-esteem and identity.

Amina Seyal spends her time writing and rewriting lines of poetry and pretending to be a photojournalist. Her work entails an exploration of her Pakistani American Muslim identity intertwined with her commitment to advocate for the rights of marginalized populations. She seeks to recognize the forgotten and reach for the voices that are too often silenced.

Jasmine Eaton, also known as jazz-e is a spoken word artist/poet native to Bridgeport, CT. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and attributes the streets of Atlanta as her inspiration to write. She explores a myriad of topics, including the psychological chains of slavery, hip hop, friendship, mental illness and love. Easton  also hosts her own local poetry event called Mics of the Roundtable, which is a successful performing opportunity for underground artists. She is also a member of the 2013 Connecticut National Slam Team.

B. Leah is a poet and spoken word Artist, has used her voice to dare audiences to hope in the midst of “emotional tsunamis”. She was a member of The CT Poetry Slam Team (2001) and The Bulanians (2001-2003). Leah’s work is documented in her first chapbook Evolutions of Revolutionary Tactics and in her stage play about healthy body image The Thick Chronicle. She has been featured in several online blogs and magazines.

This event is free and everyone is cordially invited to attend!

The Housatonic Museum of Art’s collection contains over 5000 works of art spanning ancient through modern times and is one of the largest permanent collections of any two-year college in the Northeast.  Exhibitions and programs are funded in part by the Werth Family Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Fairfield County Community Foundation, Target, Inc., and other individual donors. If you are interested in supporting HMA exhibitions and programs by donating to the Housatonic Community College Foundation, contact the Museum at www.HousatonicMuseum.org.