Brooklyn: New York State Poet And Harlem Fave Patricia Spears Jones And Ras Moshe Burnett

December 5, 2023

Come hear Ras and Harlem lover Patricia story-tell together with their combined talents in poetry and saxophone!

Ras Moshe Burnett is a saxophonist, composer, and musicologist born and bred in Brooklyn. From childhood, Ras studied saxophones with his grandfather- a member of orchestras led by Don Redman, Benny Carter, Lucky Millinder, and Earl Bostic among others- and later served as music director for Brooklyn’s New Canaan Baptist Church while performing with local Calypso bands.

He also studied with his father who performed on saxophones locally in Brooklyn. Ras played in school bands throughout his education and began professional performance in 1987. Ras is a graduate of SUNY/Empire State College in Music Studies and in August 2023 received a masters in music composition from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

For twenty-three years he produced the Music Now! series at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan, Scholes Street Studio and The Brooklyn Commons. For a long time Ras has had the pleasure of working with physical and music therapists, dancers and poets in their creative projects. He has experience as an assistant music teacher in East Harlem and has also written liner notes.

He is co-host of Ben Young’s Thursday Jazz History Database, sharing archival free jazz audio via Zoom. He continues to develop his “Peace Be With You, ” a multi-media/theater/free jazz work about his father’s Vietnam experience. Ras received commissions and awards from the Jerome Foundation, Yip Harburg Foundation, New Music USA and Sanctuary For Independent Media. Among his many CDs his latest are “50 Shades of May, ” on Tube Room Records; William Hooker’s “Flesh and Bones;” and Infrequent Seams’ “Museum of Invisible Things”- a collective with Ras, James Ilgenfritz, JD Parran, Nava Dunkelman and Payton MacDonald.

Arkansas-born Patricia Spears Jones has lived and worked in New York City since 1974. She is a poet, playwright, educator, cultural activist, and anthologist and has been appointed New York State Poet (2023-25). She is the recipient of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. She is the author of The Beloved Community and A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems, 3 full-length collections, and five chapbooks.

At the Rauschenberg Residency, she published Collapsing Forrest City, PhotoGiclée. Her poems are widely anthologized among them: 250 Years of African American Poetry: Why African American Poetry Matters Today, Plume Poetry 8; 2017 Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of Small Presses; WORD: An Anthology A Gathering of the Tribes; Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African-American Poets, and in journals such as About Place Journal; Paterson Literary Review; Cutthroat Journal;; The New Yorker and The Brooklyn Rail. She co-edited ORDINARY WOMEN: An Anthology of New York City Women Poets (1978) and edited THINK: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat (2009).

Her plays, “Mother” (music by Carter Burwell) and “Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting (music by Lisa Gutkin) were commissioned and produced by Mabou Mines. She curated programs as Program Coordinator for The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church and created the WORDS Sunday series in Brooklyn.

She has taught Creative Writing at Hunter College, Barnard College, Adelphi University and Hollins University as the 2020 Louis D. Rubin Writer in Residence. She has taught summer poetry workshops for the Community of Writers, Fine Arts Work Center, Naropa, Rutgers University, Truro Center for the Arts, and Wild Seeds Workshop for Medgar Evers College. In New York City she has lead workshops for The Poetry Project, Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, and Parachute Literary Arts.

She is an Emeritus Fellow for the Black Earth Institute and organizer of the American Poets Congress.

Sunday, December 10th, 2023, at 4:40 pm ET at Scholes Street Studio, 375 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY (directions from Harlem)

Photo credit: Patricia Spears Jones, Source.

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