Literature Program

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.


Earth's Daughters Magazine presents

Alexis De Veaux & Olga Karman

Gray Hair Reading Series

Alexis De Veaux Alexis De Veaux, Ph.D., is a poet, playwright, fiction writer, essayist, and biographer whose work is nationally and internationally known. Born and raised in Harlem, NYC, De Veaux is published in five languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, and Serbo-Croatian. Her plays include Circles (1972), The Tapestry (1975), A Season to Unravel (1979), and Elbow Rooms (1986). Her writing has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, including Essence magazine; Ms. magazine; The Village Voice; Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology; Confirmation: An Anthology of African American Women; Midnight Birds: Stories by Contemporary Black Women Writers; Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1967 to the Present; Street Lights: Illuminating Tales of the Urban Black Experience; Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing; Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers; Buffalo Women's Journal of Law and Social Policy; Does Your Mama Know?: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Coming Out Stories; Liberating Memory: Our Work and Working-Class Consciousness; Callaloo: A Journal of Afro-American and African Arts and Letters; and Mending the World: Stories About Family by Contemporary Black Writers.

Among De Veaux's works are a fictionalized memoir, Spirits In The Street (Doubleday, 1973); an award-winning children's book, Na-ni (Harper & Row, 1973); Don't Explain, a biography of jazz great, Billie Holiday (Harper & Row, 1980); two independently published poetry works, Blue Heat: A Portfolio of Poems and Drawings (1985) and Spirit Talk (1997); and a second children's book, An Enchanted Hair Tale (Harper & Row, 1987), which was a recipient of the 1988 Coretta Scott King Award presented by the American Library Association and the 1991 Lorraine Hansberry Award for Excellence in Children's Literature. In 1997, one of her poems was selected for the prestigious Christmas Broadside series published under the auspices of the Friends of the University at Buffalo Libraries. She is the author of Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde (W. W. Norton, 2004), which has won several prestigious awards, including the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award (Nonfiction), 2005 and the Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Biography (2004).

Alexis De Veaux
photo by ryki zuckerman
In other media De Veaux's work appears on several recordings, including the highly-acclaimed album, Sisterfire (Olivia Records, 1985). In 1986 she produced the independent video documentary Motherlands: From Manhattan to Managua to Africa, Hand to Hand, in association with the MADRE Video Project (NYC). As an artist and lecturer she has traveled extensively throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, Japan, and Europe, and is recognized for her contributions to such organizations as MADRE, an international women's self-help organizations; SISA (Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa); the Brooklyn-based performance collective, Flamboyant Ladies Theatre Company (co-founded with actress Gwendolen Hardwick, 1979–1986); the Buffalo Quarters Historical Society; Just Buffalo Literary Center; the Arts Council in Buffalo & Erie County; and the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (ACWWS). At present she is an Associate Professor of Women's Studies at the Department of Global Gender Studies at the University at Buffalo. She was named "Best Literary Artist" for 2005 by Artvoice. In 2007 she was awarded a "Literary Legacy Award" by Just Buffalo Literary Center for her lifetime commitment to literature and literary advocacy. She is currently at work on a novel.

Olga Karman Olga Karman—teacher, poet, and memoirist—is the author of Scatter My Ashes Over Havana and two books of poetry, Adios and Border Crossings. Her poems have also appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, and numerous anthologies. Her verse has been set in tile in Buffalo's subway system. Karman has been a professor of Spanish Language & Literature at D'Youville College for more than two decades; she also serves as the college's director of community affairs.

Olga Karman was born in Havana of Cuban and American parents. When Fidel Castro's regime came to power in 1959, she sympathized with the aims of the revolution, but when Castro cancelled elections and built his one-person rule, she left Cuba and moved to the United States to marry her American fiancè. She attended Connecticut College, graduating summa cum laude, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She entered Harvard University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, winning her Ph.D. in Spanish language & literature. After moving to Buffalo, she taught high-school Spanish before landing a position at D'Youville College.

In 1997—after an exile of 37 years and a prolonged anguish over her Cuban identity—Karman made a momentous return visit to her native city of Havana. These experiences formed the material for her memoir Scatter My Ashes Over Havana, which she composed over a period of seven years. In advance of Miami's 2006 book fair, The Miami Herald accorded major coverage to Scatter My Ashes Over Havana and its author. WBFO broadcaster Sarah Campbell praised Karman's narrative: "Like the best writers of exile, she sees with the eye of the foreigner and the local simultaneously; a little like seeing an aerial view of the city from the ground." On the book's official publication date, Mayor Byron Brown proclaimed "Olga Karman Day" in the City of Buffalo, and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) entered a tribute to her into the Congressional Record.

Some publications related to this event:
October and November, 2010 - 2010