African American poets’ poetry, On the Fly: Wanda’s Picks for February 2023

33rd-annual-celebration-of-African-American-poets, <strong>African American poets’ poetry, On the Fly: Wanda's Picks for February 2023</strong>, Culture Currents
You’re invited to hear and enjoy poetry from African American poets. Both newcomers and seasoned poets are welcome.

by Wanda Sabir, Arts and Culture Editor

The 33rd annual celebration of African American poets and their poetry

This is an annual poetry reading in the East Bay, formerly hosted by the West Oakland Library. Each year for the past eleven or so years we have adopted the yearly theme selected by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH, founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson). This year the theme is Black Resistance. The poetry reading is Sat., Feb. 25, 2023, from 10 AM PT to 1 PM PT. 

We are really excited to feature two outstanding Black women writers: Ayodele “Word Slanger” Nzinga, MFA, Ph.D., who is also Oakland’s Poet Laureate. She is the inaugural adult poet laureate. Avotcja, multi-percussionist, poet, playwright, radio host and teacher, is also featured. An elder, her work inspires as it instructs. Both poets are women who use art to instruct and change those within the sound of their voices. 

We are calling the names of recent ancestors, Oaklanders Fred T. Smith, Anita Pointer, Bill Russell, and other national and international stars – keep shining: Sidney Poitier, Fred T. Smith, Lani Guinier, Valerie Boyd, Mary Alice Smith, Nichelle Nichols, Mable John, Coolio, Pele (Essence). 

These ancestors were a living example of Black Resistance – Greatness! Asẹ. 

The program will be online, broadcast through For those Black writers who would like to be a part of the featured program, send a query to Ms. Sabir@ Please include the work you’d like considered, a brief bio (25-50 words), a phone number and an email address. 

All ages are welcome. Regional poets as well as national and international poets are welcome to submit. This is not a contest; there is no fee. Featured writers will join us on Zoom. Each poet can share 1-3 minutes, no more than 5 minutes. We will have a rehearsal the week before the reading, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 12:30 p.m.-1:50 p.m. PT. The rehearsal is encouraged for those who have never participated in the event before, and for those who need to test their equipment. 

If there are questions, call or text 510-397-9705.  All mailed submissions need to arrive by February 11, 2023, African American Poetry Celebration, P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94604.  

Here is a link to the 32nd Annual AACP in February 2022 ( We dedicated the program to Christine Saed, Al Young and bell hooks.

This link is for the 31st Annual Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry and the link to the 30th Annual Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry blog entry.

On the Fly: “Paradise Blue”

Aurora Theatre Company’s second play in their 31st season is Dominique Morisseau’s “Paradise Blue.” The show will be directed by Aurora Theatre Company’s Associate Artistic Director, Dawn Monique Williams. “Paradise Blue” will be presented in-person on Aurora’s mainstage from January 27 – February 26 (Opens: Feb. 2nd). 

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“Paradise Blue” by Dominique Morisseau, is a play that explores what challenges one might face when trying to build a better future out of the shards of the past. 

Inspired by August Wilson’s Century Cycle, Dominique Morisseau has written three plays she calls her Detroit Trilogy: “Paradise Blue,” “Detroit ʼ67,” and “Skeleton Crew.” All have been produced off-Broadway and around the country. Aurora produced a successful run of Morisseau’s “Detroit ʼ67” in their 2018-2019 Season. Tickets are pay what you can January 27-February 1. The show opens February 2. It streams online February 21-26.

For single tickets ($20-$75) or subscriptions ($200-$385), the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit There is an African Diaspora Affinity Night (though all are welcome) on Friday, February 10. Discussion host and director Dawn Monique Williams may be joined by the actors, community members, and local storytellers. Other post show discussions are:  Friday, February 3, Tuesday, February 7, Wednesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 23.

The first in the trilogy about her beloved city Detroit, Dominique Morisseau’s “Paradise Blue,” is the perfect play for the Bay. The geographic resonance will echo in one’s hearts long after the final curtain. 

To watch or listen to an interview with Dawn Monique Williams, the director visit: Wanda’s Picks Radio or @wandaspicks on YouTube. Yes, Wanda’s Picks has a YouTube channel now! Follow and leave comments. 

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at Visit her website at throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m., can be heard by phone at 347-237-4610 and are archived at