New Jersey State Poets Laureate to Share Newark Stage at Aljira

Newark, New Jersey—On Friday, September 6, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art in Newark will host the NJ Poet Laureate Family Reading and closing reception from 6pm to 9pm. Sharing the stage will be: National Book Award winner Gerald Stern, Anne Marie Macari, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award winner Amiri Baraka, and Amina Baraka. This event is free and open to the public.

Gerald Stern was appointed NJ Poet Laureate in 2000 and was succeeded by Amiri Baraka in 2002.    These two internationally known poets come together at Aljira, after over a decade, with the women who share their lives in poetry to celebrate the proud history of NJ poetry and the position of NJ Poet Laureate.

NJ Poet Laureate Family Reading is the featured event at the closing party for a show of paintings at Aljira by Jim Haba and Erica Barton Haba.  As founding director of the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Jim Haba worked extensively with Stern and Baraka and was also a member of the committee that nominated them to the Laureateship.

Critically acclaimed artists Stern and Baraka have demonstrated their willingness to challenge cant and hypocrisy wherever they find it.  Unafraid of pursuing political issues in their poems, they share a fierce determination to expose deceit and to promote the search for truth and justice.

Gerald Stern has won most of the major prizes accorded an American poet, including the Ruth Lilly Prize and the Wallace Stevens Award.  He has taught at many colleges and universities including Raritan Valley Community College, the University of Iowa, and Princeton.  He was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006 and has published more than a dozen books of poems and several books of essays and reflections.  Stern lives in Lambertville.

Newark native Amiri Baraka won early national recognition as a poet before exploding onto the theater scene in the mid 1960s with a series of stunning, Obie Award-winning plays.  Highly prolific as a poet, novelist, essayist, and short story writer, he is also responsible for an impressive body of work as a music critic.  He has taught at many colleges and universities including SUNY Stony Brook, Rutgers, and Yale.  In 2001 he was awarded the James Weldon Johnson Medal for his contributions to literature.

Anne Marie Macari continues to teach in the low-residency MFA Program in Poetry and Translation at Drew University, of which she was the founding director.  She has published three books of poems.  Her second, Gloryland, celebrates the body and the physical world.  She lives in Lambertville.

Amina Baraka is a poet, singer, dancer, actress, and activist who, with her husband, leads the word-music ensemble, Blue Ark.  Together, they also co-direct Kimako's Blues People, the artspace housed in their Newark basement.   Kimako's Blues People opened to the public in the mid-1980s, ran for fifteen years and just reopened two months ago. 

Friday, September 6th readings will be from 7pm to 8pm.  

Following the readings a closing reception will be held from 8pm to 9pm for Aljira’s summer exhibitions: 

"Exuberance is Beauty", William Blake - Paintings by Jim Haba

Jazz Stripe Series, jazz inspired Paintings by Erica Barton Haba

Schools for the Colored: A Portfolio of Photographs by Wendel A. White

Upcoming Exhibitions and Public Programs

September 7: 1pm to 4pm

Schools for the Colored Artist Talk with Wendel A. White. Artists, authors and educators will discuss America's educational apartheid. The film, A Place Out of Time will be screened.

September 26 – December 21 : Temporality and Objects: Installations and Photographs by Carl E. Hazlewood and Birth of a Cypher by Terry Boddie. Two unique shows which explore the power and the beauty of the abstract.

January – April 2014: Bending the Grid.

Luis Cruz Azaceta: Dictators, Terrorism, War and Exiles 

March - September 2014: Aljira’s 30th Anniversary Retrospective exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum, Trenton 

About Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art fosters excellence in the visual arts through exhibitions and educational programs that serve as catalysts for inclusiveness and diversity, promote cross-cultural dialog, and enable us to better understand the time in which we live. Public understanding and support of the visual arts are strengthened through collaboration and community-based educational programming. Aljira seeks out the work of emerging and underrepresented artists and brings the work of more established artists to our community. Through the visual arts Aljira bridges racial, cultural and ethnic divides and enriches the lives of individuals.

Aljira’s operations and programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Cultural Trust, The Kenneth Aidekman Family Foundation, Bank of America, Brick City Development Corporation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Greater Newark Conservancy, Hyde and Watson Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MCJ Amelior Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, PNC Bank, Prudential, The Prudential Foundation, PSE&G Foundation, RBH Group, Spire Group, State Farm Insurance, Telebrands, Tides Foundation, The Turrell Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and many generous individual contributors.

Aljira is located at 591 Broad Street in downtown Newark. For directions visit our website at The Center is open Wednesday through Friday, 12–6 pm and Saturday, 11 am–4pm. Phone 973 622-1600, fax 973 622-6526, Website: On Facebook: On Tumblr: On Twitter: @aljiratweets.