Critically acclaimed poets Lawson Inada and Emmett Wheatfall will be performing some of their works to music this weekend for "A Celebration of Poetry in Jazz."
The performances will be in honor of National Poetry Month on April 22 in Portland at the First Unitarian Church and April 23 in Seattle at Daniels Recital Hall. Tickets are available at www.petersonentertainment.com.
The performance was created to present Inada's and Wheatfall's "diverse backgrounds, styles and experiences to life in thoughtful and expressive poetic story."
Lawson Inada's performance will feature works that are greatly influenced by his childhood experiences while at internment camps during WWII. Lawson's inspiration comes from dreams, memories and experiences. He will also explore Japanese poetic forms and the interplay of how his life-long love of jazz has influenced his poetry. Lawson cites jazz as the strongest influence in his writing and has done live collaborations with Andrew Hill, Mal Waldron and Jimmy Smith.
Emmett Wheatfall's material covers romance, faith, betrayal and the matters of life. His words are set to a fierce, sensitive and moving accompaniment that crosses the boundaries of jazz into blues, funk, soul and gospel.
Accompanying the poets are musicians Noah Peterson and Larry Nobori on saxophones, Gordon Lee on piano, Andre St. James on upright bass and Tim DuRoche on drum-set.
Inada was named Oregon State Poet in 1991 and served as the Oregon's Poet Laureate 2006-2010. His collection of poems "Before the War" was the first book of poetry by an Asian American to be published by a major New York publishing house. He won the American Book Award for his work "Legends from Camp" in 1992. He won the Oregon Book Award for Poetry in 1997, the Pushcart Prize for Poetry in 1996 and was honored at the White House for a "Salute of Poetry and American Poets."
Wheatfall burst onto the scene with his recorded work, "When I Was Young" a music and poetry collaboration with producer Noah Peterson. Featured in Wine and Jazz Magazine, Wheatfall was called "…one of the most original and powerful debut jazz artists of the year." "When I Was Young" is currently on air at various stations throughout the country including WWOZ, New Orleans, KMHD, Portland and WPRB, Princeton University. Wheatfall has done voice-over work and is an annual presenter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s "I Have A Dream Speech" for various organizations during Black History Month. He has two published collections of poems, "He Sees Things" and "We Think We Know" and an audio CD of his poetry entitled, "I Speak."