Columbia, SC poet Al Black and award-winning Sumter poet Len Lawson will read from the SC poetry anthology Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race.
After the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice became mainstream media, the founders planned to visit various cities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The purpose was to use their poetry abilities and networking among the Southern arts community to hold poetry readings and engage the audience in tough conversations about race.
Following the Walter Scott case, the shooting of the Charleston 9, and the removal of the confederate flag from the SC State House, the vision of the tour magnified into calls for poetry submissions, town hall meetings, and collaborations with other activists and arts advocacy organizations.
Al Black was born and raised in Lafayette, IN. He is an administrator at the University of South Carolina. In 2014, he released his first poetry collection I Only Left for Tea (Muddy Ford Press), and a new poetry collection will appear in 2017. A Jasper Magazine Literary Artist of the Year nominee, he hosts several arts venues in Columbia, SC, among them the eclectic open mic venue Mind Gravy since 2010. He has been married 42 years to his wife Carol, and they have four children and nine grandchildren.
Len Lawson is a Ph.D. student in English Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the chapbook Before the Night Wakes You (Finishing Line Press). Len is the 2016 Jasper Magazine Artist of the Year in Literary Arts. Len is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a three-time nominee for the Best of the Net Anthology with poems appearing or forthcoming in [PANK] Magazine, Connotation Press, Mississippi Review, Winter Tangerine Review, pluck!, and Charleston Currents selected by South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. His website is www.lenlawson.co.