The Cape May County Amnesty International group will sponsor a poetry reading by Lamont Steptoe at the Bayside Center 7 pm. Saturday (Dec. 8).
The performance is free and open to the public (with donations accepted). The reading coincides with International Human Rights Day, which falls on Dec. 10. It was on that day in 1948 that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed by the United Nations. Amnesty International based its mandate on this document.
"Steptoe is quite an incredible poet," says Georgina Shanley, coordinator of the local Amnesty chapter. "He is able to transform himself with his words and his passion. In other cultures, Lamont would be considered a Shaman."
Born 1949, Steptoe is a poet, activist, Vietnam Veteran, photographer and founder/publisher of Whirlwind Press. He is a graduate of Temple University's School of Communications and Theater, where he majored in radio, television, and film.
Steptoe has a clear, direct and matter-of-fact approach to his socio-cultural subject matter and his language is rich and revealing. He is the author of ten books of poetry and is the editor of two collections of poems by South African poet Dennis Brutus.
Steptoe's books include In the Kitchen of the Masters (1997) and Catfish & Neckbone Jazz (1992), both published by Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books; and Uncle's South China Sea Blue Nightmare (Plan B Press, 2003). His poems have also been featured in various anthologies including Furious Flower.
He has performed his work at the Library of Congress, the National Library of Nicaragua, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, the Knitting Factory, the Schomburg Center for Black Culture, and various colleges and universities throughout the United States.
He was awarded the Life-time Achievement Award by the Kuntu Writers Workshop from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in 1996 and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Steptoe was awarded the American Book Award in 2005.
In 2004, rapper Mos Def, opened the Def Poetry Jam program on HBO with a poem from Mad Minute. He has participated in numerous workshops and has collaborated with Sonia Sanchez, Allen Ginsburg, Ishmael Reed, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Sam Allen.
This will be Lamont Steptoe's second reading for Amnesty International. He is back by popular demand.