New Beginnings: The Story of Liberians in Minnesota

16 February 2011 at 9:00 am (News, Radio) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

New Beginnings: The Story of  Liberians in Minnesota

For some time now, Minnesota has been a refuge for immigrant communities displaced from their homes due to a variety of circumstances. One of these communities is the Liberian community, which grew rapidly in the aftermath of a series of civil wars that ravished their country. However the story of Liberians in Minnesota does not begin with these civil wars but stretches back more than 50 years.

In this radio documentary, we look at this history, along with the growth and development of the community. In a series of conversations with a wide-range of Liberians in Minnesota including Wynfred Russell, Abdullai Kiatamba, Piso Tarr, Yeamah Brewer, Mameneh George, Charles Dennis and others, in addition to other prominent figures in the community including State Representative Keith Ellison, professor of history Peter Rachleff and theatre director Wendy Knox, this programs provides an overview of where the Liberian community in Minnesota stands today, the contributions it has made to the state and what the future holds.

The documentary is produced by Liberian-American artist e.g. bailey, and his partner Sha Cage. The three-part documentary will air on KFAI Fresh Air Radio (90.3fm Minneapolis/106.7fm St. Paul) on February 16th, 21st and 23rd at 7:30pm. It can also be streamed online at wwww.kfai.org.

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Arkology

22 July 1999 at 9:00 am (Music, Recordings, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

@rkology is a spoken work collective, which melds poetry with music. Our goal is to create a spoken word/music synthesis based in the aesthetic of the jazz ensemble where each instrument, including the voice, enters the ensemble on an equal footing and has an opportunity to lead and shape the resulting sound, creating a multi-sensory experience.  The work originates, variously in concept, work, image and/or sound.  We perform original work, and the work of other writers and musicians, including Nikki Giovanni, Nina Simone and Larry Neal.

The collective was co-founded by members: e.g.bailey (verbalist) Miré Regulus (writer/vocalist), KONA (drums), Dennis Maddix (bass), Mankwe Ndosi (vocalist), ANIKA (vocalist), and Malo Adams (guitar).  Currently performing with the collective are e.g. bailey, Miré Regulus, KONA, Dennis Maddix, Mankwe Ndosi and Tommy Speath.

@rkology was chosen for the City Pages’ Picked to Click Best Local Bands Poll in both 1998 and 1999.

@rkology has performed at Groove Garden Sundays (Cabooze and the 400 bar), Freeloaded Wednesdays the Front, Kieran’s Irish Pub, the Minneapolis Institute for the Arts, Intermedia Arts, Powderhorn Park Neighborhood School, and at First Friday’s—at the Minnesota History Center.  @rkology also recently opened for Roy Ayers. The  group will have upcoming performances at Intermedia Arts  and local venues around town.

‘That said, the five groups listed above each offer intelligent twists on their genres and, most important, share a commitment to simplicity and clarity of vision–be that the elegant authority of Mason Jennings, the poetic abstraction of the spoken-word/jazz collective Arkology, or the unironic teen-rebellion anthems of Selby Tigers.’ – Kate Sullivan (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

‘Arkology, a jazz/soul/spoken-word collective, has really come into its own over the last year…the group’s Nikki Giovanni-meets-Brand New Heavies vibe has attracted more people each time I see them…’ – Rachel Joyce (Walker Art Center)

‘ARKOLOGY is spoken word and a hell of a rhythm section.’ – Jen Downham (KFAI and Groove Garden Records)

e.g. bailey (poet/vocalist) is an actor writer poet and expressionist in many different forms of art.  born in saclepea, liberia, he has lived in the united states since 1979.  he discovered the freedom and power of writing in high school and it has served as a foundation since.  arriving in the twin cities in 1993, he has actively pursued acting and performance, and is a founding member of sirius b, a black male performance collective, with whom he performed in punic wars, at the walker art center, and in monday morning body count, concerning the high rate of homicide among black men, which he created and co-wrote. he is also an original member of spine:, a writer’s collective developed by the loft and the walker art center. spine: produced spoken work performances at several local venues and created a performance at the walker art center titled, spine: stripped bare. in addition , mr. bailey is a spoken word artist who has performed, in solo performances, with musicians, or with the cacophony chorus at many different venues including first avenue, biscuits and blues, bryant lake bowl (for patrick’s cabaret), the walker art center, the fine line music cafe, penumbra, and kfai fresh air radio.  in 1995 mr. bailey was the winner of the hughes knight diop poetry award at the 5th annual black writers conference conducted by the gwendolyn brooks center for creative writing. his poems were published in warpland, a publication by the gwendolyn brooks center.  he recently co-wrote blues for nina, a poetic exploration of the life of nina simone, with miré regulus, and is working on a film residency for the walker art center, coordinated by artist-in-residence, susan robeson.

KONA (percussionist) is a self-taught musician.  He has taught himself different aspects of rhythm through listening.  He currently performs with local psychedelic surf-pop sensation TV Baby and is also working on a project, Locust Solace, with Chris Lynch and Doug Reed, at Gark Recording Studio, as well as being a contributing component of Arkology.  KONA carries the sense that music is a never-ending learning process and envisions himself continuing on the music path that will let listeners move their hips when they hear his music.  He is also learning other instruments.  KONA would like to give thanks and praises to the Most High. Peace.

Dennis James Maddix (bassist) is a native of St. Paul and has been a journeyman bassist since 1980. He has played primarily Jazz, though he has branched out into Blues, Orchestral, Reggae, Pop and Rock musics.  Dennis has worked with the Chimera, Park Square,  Mixed Blood, and Penumbra Theaters as a musician, a tech, and as music director  for “Revisions for the Maid” in Park Square’s 1982 season. Dennis is currently active in the spoken word and music collective ARKOLOGY and in the local band TV BABY.

Mankwe Monika Nkatuati Ndosi (vocalist) is a Minnesota born, Tanzanian spirited performing artist.  Ever aware of inspiration and possibility she is jumping into all kinds of art around the Twin Cities with friends and colleagues @rkology, the Circle of Choice Ensemble, Kirk Washington Jr., René Ford, Derrik Phillips, friends at the double G spot (struggle space), Aarawak Productions, and others who have blessed her footsteps.  She is revisioning and reworking Cornbread, a monthly potluck and improvisational performance/dialogue at Intermedia Arts.  She is currently collecting hubcaps and painting mirrors, saving to return to Tanzania, worshipping the shortwave radio, her cat, and her car, and celebrating the families she has been born into and has become a part of since returning to the town of her birth.  Deepest praise and respect to the ancestors and elders who have brought us here. Sema Yote y Upendo.

Miré Regulus (poet/vocalist) is a writer, dancer, performer and roving arts administrator. She writes, performs, dances with her mind, and takes care of business.  Life, necessity and her heart has led her journey from Illinois to Andover to Brown to the little cities that could.  She has been sited at the Playwright Center, Penumbra, Walker Art Center, Patrick’s Cabaret and the Red Eye in her various adventures. Her works include:  a woman alone with others, performed as a solo piece at Patrick’s and expanded for Red Eye’s Works-in-Progress ’95 series; can you see me clearly, a slipstream into discovery—performed for Patrick’s 11th Anniversary show; jambo through my toes, three bits and pieces performed in Penumbra’s Audre Lorde Sighs Late Nite Series.  She is a member of the Circle of Choice Ensemble, which recently revived June Wilson’s Choice…like ripe fruit in March ’98.  Her most recent works include blues for nina, a poetic exploration of the life of Nina Simone, co-written with e.g. bailey, and jibber jabber headnoise, a work-in-progress.

–to speak is to make it real/to write is to let it live/to enact is to let it go/   /to change it is to choose again

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village blues

23 February 1999 at 7:00 pm (Film, Music, Poems, Shows, Spoken Word, Videos) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Nu Ark Experiements presents:  village blues

an improvisational cinematic collaborative

produced by e.g. bailey and Ayesha Adu
music produced by Jeremy Ylvisaker & Kitundu

“Amma I have lost another child.

Amma my child is gone…”

Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Avenue South
Mpls, MN  55408
612.871.4444
http://www.IntermediaArts.org

7:00pm
Tuesday 23 February

village blues, an experimental improvisational film that deals with the disintegration of interpersonal and social relationships within the Black community.  The nature of the improvisation is centered around three poems written by e.g. bailey, and serves as the common link within the process between the artists involved.  The images are based on the poems, as is the soundtrack.  However, each was done separately.  Ayesha produced and shot the images, while e.g. produced the audio––neither was allowed to see the other’s work.  Both elements of the film would then be brought together at the moment of presentation, hence the improvisational aspect of the film.  Often in improvisation there is a common structure or theme, or a musical line, upon which everyone improvises.  The goal was to bring this method to filmmaking and explore the possibilities.  And further explore the relationship between spoken word and filmmaking.

Artists Include:

Ayesha Adu
e.g. bailey
Rachel Flomo
Kitundu
Mankwe Ndosi
Leah Nelson
J. Otis Powell!
Truthmaze
Jeremy Ylvisaker

evening will begin with 20 minute open mic

a post-film discussion will follow

$3 suggested donation

“even in death,

there is birth”

This series is supported by a grant provided by the MN State Arts Board through an appropriation from the MN State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

Co-sponsored by SASE:  The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, KMOJ, the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Da X-Factor Newz and KFAI’s Write On RaDio! (Thursdays @ 11am).

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Nu Ark Experiments: In Conversation

1 September 1998 at 9:00 am (News, Press, Spoken Word, Theatre, Work Notes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Nu Ark Experiments : In Conversation
September 1998

The Nu Ark Experiments, a series of experimental spoken word performances produced by e. g. bailey for the Minnesota State Arts Board in collaboration with S. A. S. E:  The Write Place and Intermedia Arts, began in May of 1998 and will continue through April of ’99.  To help explain the Nu Ark concept, an excerpt of a conversation with e. g. bailey and Genesis, bassist of Arkology, follows:

E.G.:  The Nu Ark Experiments is a series of spoken word performances to showcase the different ways that spoken word can be presented.  We have a strong and lively spoken word community but most of the time they tend to be poetry readings.

Genesis:  At small venues.  I’ve noticed that the Nu Arks, they’re all different places.  They’re not places that ordinarily have spoken word.

E.G.:  But (again) most of the time with spoken word events, it’s usually just a straight ahead reading.  It’s usually with a poet reading their work.  But one of the things I’m trying to do with the Nu Ark Experiments is expose the different ways that it can be done.  Not just with poets and musician, but stretching that too.  Starting with that foundation and that mix of bringing poets and musicians together but then looking at presenting it in a performance art vein.  Looking at presenting it in a film vein.  And focusing on various themes like community.  Focusing on concepts, like with Soft Red Read that we did at Nautilus Music-Theater, where it was focused on non-linear music, non structured music, non melodic types of things, and looking at working with the concept of space and with some of the ideas that Sun Ra talks about.  And creating a soundscape and a landscape of sounds and music for the words to be a part of.

Genesis:  And work with movement.  That was important.

E.G.:  Part of the Nu Ark Experiments is to also give others in the community an opportunity to perform.  Give other artists in the community an opportunity to work with spoken word.

Genesis:  Recognize the new format.  And they might work better in the new format than the traditional format.

E.G.:  Looking at collaborating with Truth Maze (Brother Heru), who also organizes and facilitates readings.  Working with Siddiq of the Rhyme Sayers Collective and giving him an opportunity to work in another vein other than just as a DJ mixing hip hop and able to find other things musically that he wouldn’t normally be able to find.

Genesis:  And he could bring that back to the Rhyme Sayers.

E.G.:  And hoping to complete the collaboration with Ayesha Adu (on Village Blues), who is a filmmaker, who has worked on just about every major film that came through here in the last couple years and a couple independents, and written a couple screenplays.  But again working with other artists.  Not only allow them another opportunity to present their work, another vein to present their work through but to also showcase them and bring them to the attention of the spoken word community.  And say this spoken word is not a monolithic thing.  Poetry readings and poetry itself doesn’t just have to be isolated to just reading your poems in front of a microphone in front of an audience.  That it can involve music.  It can involve movement.  It can involve film.  It can involve just about anything that you want it to involve.  It doesn’t just have to be read.  Spoken word gives poetry the freedom of being.  Being sung.  Being musical.  Being a straight forward reading.  Being just music even.

Genesis:  We have started things where the rhythmic part of what’s being said turns into the rhythmic basis for the music so that it’s still there (and) echoes that line and whoever’s hearing they’re still aware of what made that line that made that rhythm and everything else that’s said on top of it carries a different weight because of it.  So it’s not just like the band is playing some rhythm.  No they’re keeping a chant behind.

E.G.:  And what comes through, in having seen Trekteh Beam Express and working with Arkology doing the work that we do, it really opens up spoken word away from this idea that it’s just about reading poems.

Genesis:  Bitter poets in coffee shop.  That old idea.

E.G.:  It says spoken word can be anything.  It can be more than this.  That’s not to devalue that, it’s to give it another path that poetry can take.  And that’s the essence of it right there.  The Nu Ark Experiments developed out of the concept  of arkology.  Of ways of travel.  Of means of travel.  Whether that travel is musical.  Whether that travel is words.  Here is a new ark.  Here’s a new…

Genesis:  A new beginning?

E.G.:  A new beginning.  And again with just the word ark.

Genesis:  All those associations right off the bat.

E.G.:  The Ark of the Covenant, which aligns with a new beginning.  The arc.  The shape of something.  The Ark.  Noah’s Ark.  And taking that and working in the concept of experimentation.  Of it allowing it to be different.  Allowing yourself freedom for it to be other things.  To develop into other things.  And most of the time we are not sure exactly what the outcome of it will be.  But it’s matter of putting the experiment into place.

Genesis:  It makes it more of that journey.  We know we’re gonna start here.  We don’t know where home is, if it’s gonna be home.  What the end’s gonna be.  It’s the joy of discovery.

E.G.:  And really working within that idea of traveling.  Allow yourself the freedom to travel.  Allow yourself to find other spaces.  Allow yourself to become other things.  Allow yourself the freedom to express yourself.

The next Nu Ark Experiment will be September 15th is titled Open House Under Sky and will explore the sense of community.  See the listing on page ____ for dates of other experiments and workshops and/or call xxx-xxxx for more information.

This series is co-sponsored by SASE:  The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, Da X Factor Newz, Powderhorn Writers Festival, Write On RaDio! and KMOJ Radio.  It is supported by a grant by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

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Picked to Click VIII

22 April 1998 at 9:00 am (Music, Press, Spoken Word) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Picked to Click VIII
By Simon Peter Groebner

It’s an odd, autonomous, anomalous year for the 1998 City Pages New Music Poll.

Jen Downham, KFAI-FM and Groove Garden Records:
1. Autonomous 2. ARKOLOGY 3. Heirospecs 4. Vintage 5. Anomaly.
Autonomous’s airy beats and strings, a little bit of guitar, and the mesmerizing female vocals make this moving mood music. ARKOLOGY is spoken word and a hell of a rhythm section. Heirospecs is hip hop and spoken word with an all-live band, horns, and more. Vintage is old-school funk played by old-schoolers who lived through it, with it, in it, and–thank God–are still doin’ it! Anomaly do a cinematic hip hop.

J. G. Everest, The Sensational Joint Chiefs:
1. Native Ones 2. ARKOLOGY 3. Sixth Sense 4. Autonomous 5. Mokoto Brasil.

[Arkology featuring e.g. bailey, Mire Regulus, Kona, Dennis Maddix, Mankwe Ndosi and Tom Speath.]

Originally posted on City Pages on 22 April 1998.

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Nu Ark Experiment: Wordshop: Shouting into the Storm

21 April 1998 at 9:00 am (News, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre, Workshops) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Poets! have you ever wanted your words bathed in music, floating on a quarter note.  Instrumentalists! have you ever conjured a melody while listening to a poet read.  Then Space is the Place.  Become a part of Wordshop: Shouting into the Storm, a workshop for musicians and word masters.  Discover the joy and beauty of spoken word.  e. g. bailey and members of Arkology will conduct a workshop seeking to explore ways of uniting words (spoken, sung, written or shouted) and music of all kinds.  Participants will learn the process of creating spoken word pieces and explore with other musicians and poets how to find spaces of their words and sounds.  The workshop will also include exercises in improvisation.

The workshop will take place on October 10th from 1-4pm at the West Bank School of Music located at 1813 South 6th Street Mpls.  Call 822-2500 to register or for more information.

Workshop participants will have the opportunity to share their discoveries at the Nu Ark Experiments performance (Postmodern) Work Songs on Oct. 20th at Gingko’s Coffeehouse.

This workshop emerges out of the Nu Ark Experiments a series of spoken word performances aimed at showcasing the different ways spoken word can be presented.  The series includes experiments with performance art, with improvisation, with film, with non-structural music and with visual arts.

Future performances include (Postmodern) Work Songs on Oct. 20th at Gingko’s Coffeehouse.  And Side B, a collaboration with sound sculptor and visual artist Kitundu at Intermedia Arts on Nov. 17th.

This series is supported by a grant provided by the MN State Arts Board through an appropriation from the MN State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

And is co-sponsored by SASE:  The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, KMOJ, the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Da X-Factor Newz and KFAI’s Write On RaDio! (Thursdays @ 11am). Call 288-9491 for more information.

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Nu Ark Experiments Press Release

21 April 1998 at 9:00 am (Film, Music, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre, Workshops) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

For Immediate Release
April 21, 1998

“Open Palm Prayers” Melds Music and Poetry
In Jazz-Influenced Show at Intermedia Arts, May 19, 1998
Performance Launches ‘Nu Ark Experiments,’ A 12-part Series
Exploring ‘Force and Energy of the Oral Tradition’

A talented group of improvisational musicians and poets will demonstrate a new, multi-sensory approach to uniting word and music in performance, at an evening-length show called “Open Palm Prayers” on Tuesday, May 19, 1998. The performance takes place at 7:00 p.m. at Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis. Tickets are $6, or $3 for Intermedia Arts Partners. Reservations may be made by calling (612) 871-4444.

The key to the performance concept is a jazz-influenced melding of poetry and music, according to organizer e.g. bailey, a member of the performance collective Arkology. “Our goal is to create a spoken word/music synthesis based in the aesthetic of the jazz ensemble,” bailey said. “The work can originate in a word, a concept, an image, or a sound, and then each ‘instrument,’ including the voice, enters the ensemble on an equal footing and has an opportunity to lead and shape the experience.”

“Open Palm Prayers” marks the first event in a 12-part series of innovative spoken word and musical events called Nu Ark Experiments. The aim, bailey said, is “to experiment with the presentation of spoken word by melding it with other art forms, including music, dance, and film.” The series involves ten performances of set pieces and improvisational works, and two workshops designed to introduce others to improvisational techniques for blending art forms in performance. The performances and workshops will occur at several venues in the Twin Cities over the next ten months, beginning with “Open Palm Prayers” at Intermedia Arts.

At the core of the Nu Ark Experiments is a group of well-known, multi-talented artists, most of whom are members of the improvisational performance collective Arkology. At “Open Palm Prayers,” for example, e.g. bailey will contribute his skills as a “verbalist,” joined by Arkology members Kona (drummer), Dennis Maddix (bass), and writer/vocalists Mankwe Ndosi and Miré Regulus. The collective has also appeared with other Twin Cities musicians such as Kevin Washington, Rene Ford, Sam Favors, Markiss, Michael O’Brien, Doug Reed, and Tom Speath.

“We will explore forms and avenues not normally associated with spoken word, with the hope of bringing new life to poetry, and giving back to it the force and energy inherent in the oral tradition,” said bailey.

The idea for the Nu Ark Experiments series originated with Blues for Nina, a 25-minute spoken-word/music performance about the famed singer Nina Simone that bailey presented for the opening of the 1997 Twin Cities Black Film Festival, in collaboration with five other artists. “The audience response to that piece as well as the music/word interaction in the rehearsal process motivated me to explore how to further develop this performance structure,” bailey said.

Nu Ark Experiments is produced with support from a Cultural Collaborations Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Co-sponsors for the series are SASE: The Write Place and Intermedia Arts, and KFAI Fresh Air Radio 90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 St. Paul.

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Nu Ark Experiment: Under Sky Open House

21 April 1998 at 9:00 am (News, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre, Workshops) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Come experience the Nu Ark Experiments.  Join e. g. bailey and members of Arkology for the fourth installment of the Nu Ark Experiments: Under Sky Open House on September 15th at the Powderhorn Park at 7:00pm.  The performance will focus on the concept of community and will include poets from the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Roy McBride and Amy Ballestad, and guest musician Yolanda Jackson.

Powderhorn Park is located at E 34th Street and 15th Avenue South in South Minneapolis.

The Nu Ark Experiments is a series of spoken word performances aimed at showcasing the different ways spoken word can be presented.  The series includes experiments with performance art, with improvisation, with film, with non-structural music and with visual arts.

Future performances include Wordshop: Shouting into the Storm, a workshop for poets and musicians, at the West Bank School of Music on Oct. 10th.  (Postmodern) Work Songs on Oct. 20th at Gingko’s Coffeehouse.  And Side B, a collaboration with sound sculptor and visual artist Kitundu at Intermedia Arts on Nov. 17th.

This series is supported by a grant provided by the MN State Arts Board through an appropriation from the MN State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

And is co-sponsored by SASE: The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, KMOJ, the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Da X-Factor Newz and KFAI’s Write On RaDio! (Thursdays @ 11am). Call 288-9491 for more information.

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Nu Ark Experiment: (Postmodern) Work Songs

21 April 1998 at 9:00 am (News, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

(Postmodern) Work Songs, a celebration of experimentation uniting song, poetry and music.  e. g. bailey and members of Arkology along with community poets and musicians will share work developed at the Wordshop: Shouting into the Storm, a spoken word workshop for poets and musicians, at the West Bank School of Music.  The performance emerges from the Nu Ark Experiments, a series of spoken word performances seeking to explore the ways of uniting words (spoken, sung, written or shouted) and music of all kinds in live, sometimes improvisational performance.

The performance will take place on October 20th at 7:30pm at Gingko’s Coffeehouse located at 721 Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.  It will include guest poets and musicians from the Wordshop spoken word workshop.

The Nu Ark Experiments is a series of spoken word performances aimed at showcasing the different ways spoken word can be presented.  The series includes experiments with performance art, with improvisation, with film, with non-structural music and with visual arts.

Future performances include Side B, a collaboration with sound sculptor and visual artist Kitundu, finding the spaces between spoken word and visual arts, at Intermedia Arts on Nov. 17th.

This series is supported by a grant provided by the MN State Arts Board through an appropriation from the MN State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

And is co-sponsored by SASE:  The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, KMOJ, the Powderhorn Writers Festival, Da X-Factor Newz and KFAI’s Write On RaDio! (Thursdays @ 11am). Call 288-9491 for more information.

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