Celebrate Black History Month with Alameda Island Poets

Ishmael Reed

The Alameda Island Poets will celebrate Black History Month Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m., at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru St. Speakers include the award-winning author of more than 30 books, Ishmael Reed, his daughter, Tennessee Reed, Fairfield’s first Poet Laureate, Juanita Martin and poet-singer-songwriter Boundless Gratitude, also known as Haussan Jones-Bey.

Ishmael Reed
Novelist, poet, playwright, songwriter and essayist, Ishmael is also the publisher and editor of 14 anthologies and numerous magazines, a television producer, public media commentator, teacher and lecturer. Ishmael is the founder of two non-profit organizations run by writers for writers: the Before Columbus Foundation, which just celebrated its 42nd year presenting its American Book Awards, and PEN Oakland. 

He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, for more than 30 years, retiring in 2005. 

A MacArthur Fellow, his honors include nominations for a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, the 2008 Blues Songwriter of the Year from the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, San Francisco LitQuake’s 2011 Barbary Coast Award and the University of Buffalo’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. He served as San Francisco’s first Jazz Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2016.

Find out more at www.ishmaelreed.org. 

Tennessee Reed 
Tennessee is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently New and Collected Poems 1982-2011; a memoir, Spell Albuquerque, Memoirs of a “Difficult” Student and a novel, Adventures Among the X-Challenged. Tennessee began writing as a young child and has presented readings of her work throughout the Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, England, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Israel and Japan. She is also a photographer and videographer. She is the chairperson of PEN Oakland and the managing editor of Konch Magazine.

Boundless Gratitude
Boundless Gratitude launched his musical storytelling career by entertaining his children. As his children grew old enough for more sophisticated entertainment, Boundless started tuning his guitar, writing new songs and entertaining other adults at open mics. He has served as open mic co-host in various East Bay venues. 

He has also shared his musical storytelling in community and educational programs including “Guitars, not Guns” groups. Lately his focus shifted from songwriting and performing to academic study of the functional role of music and storytelling in religious and cultural communities, particularly in communities of the African Diaspora. 

Juanita J. Martin 
Martin is the City of Fairfield’s first poet laureate. She served from 2010 to 2012. She’s also a freelance writer and performance artist. Her poetry book, The Lighthouse Beckons, was accepted into the Solano County Library. Martin’s next volume of poems, Quiet Intensity, is due out this year. She’s published in Blue Collar Review, SoMa Literary Review, and others. Martin is active in the Ina Coolbrith Circle and Benicia First Tuesday Poets, to name a few. 

The reading is hosted by Nanette Deetz and Alameda Poet Laureate Cathy Dana. Admission is by donation. Light refreshments will be served. An open mic session follows the featured speakers. 

For more information, write cathydana@gmail.com, call 205-2375 or visit www.frankbettecenter.org.

Tennessee Reed
Boundless Gratitude
Juanita J. Martin