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Safiya Sinclair and Joshua Bennett




FEATURING Safiya Sinclair, Joshua Bennett, Shara McCallum, and Shawan Rice


Award-winning poets Safiya Sinclair, Joshua Bennett, and Shara McCallum kick off the 2017 Harrisburg Book Festival for an evening of spoken word to remember. With an introductory and closing musical performance from Harrisburg's own, Shawan Rice, Sinclair, Bennett, and McCallum will perform spoken word and selected poetry readings from their most recent collections — Cannibal, The Sobbing School, and Madwoman. This event is proudly presented by Festival Sponsor Messiah College's School of Humanities.

Safiya Sinclair, Joshua Bennett, and Shara McCallum will be available to sign copies of their books immediately following the reading. 

Safiya Sinclair


Safiya Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She is the author of Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, the Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature in Poetry, and selected as an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year. Sinclair is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award. Cannibal was also longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, and the Dylan Thomas Prize. Her poems have appeared in PoetryKenyon Review, Granta, The Nation, Oxford American, and elsewhere. Sinclair received her MFA in poetry at the University of Virginia, and is currently a PhD candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California.


"Reading (and rereading) Sinclair is an urgently necessary, absolutely unparalleled experience." -- Diego Báez, Booklist starred review

“With exquisite lyrical precision, Safiya Sinclair is offering us a new muscular music that is as brutal as it is beautiful. Intelligent and elemental, these poems mark the debut of a poet who is dangerously talented and desperately needed.”— Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things

"This award-winning collection comes to eat you."Waxwing Literary Journal

Shara McCallum

Joshua Bennett

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Dr. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School and Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man, which is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series, Dr. Bennett has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cave Canem, the Josephine de Karman Fellowship Trust and the Ford Foundation. His writing has been published in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The New York Times, Poetry and elsewhere. He is currently a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University.                                                                               


“At a moment in American culture punctuated to a heartbreaking degree by acts of hatred, violence and disregard, I can think of nothing we need to ponder and to sing of more than our shared grief and our capacity not just for empathy but genuine love. Poetry is critical to such an endeavor—and Joshua Bennett’s astounding, dolorous, rejoicing voice is indispensable.”
– Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate

“In his scintillating debut, Bennett raises a crucial question about the writing of African-American experience:  how can one convey the enormity of black suffering without reducing black life and expression to elegy? . . . At its heart, Bennett’s sharp collection is an ode to family, friendship and culture that neither pulls punches nor withholds sentiment.” – Publishers Weekly


Originally from Jamaica, Shara McCallum is the author of five books of poetry, published in the US and UK: Madwoman, The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems, Song of Thieves, and The Water Between Us. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines, anthologies, and textbooks in the US, Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America and have been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, Dutch, and Turkish. Her personal essays appear regularly in print and online. Recognition for her writing includes a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, and other awards. From 2003-2017 she was Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. She is currently a Liberal Arts Professor of English at the Penn State University.

Praise for Madwoman

“In a major way, McCallum peels off the layers of what it is to be a woman. She jettisons poetic forms and can exact poetic norms without waiting for a reaction.”       — Washington Independent Review of Books

“There is a hunger in these lines that is furious and electrifying.” —Nervous Poodle Poetry

McCallum beautifully incorporates the patois of her native Jamaica and employs myth as a way to deal with the mistakes and hurts of the past. [Her] striking poems take the madwoman out of her attic so that she may walk and speak among the living.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Shawan Rice

At just 21 years old, Harrisburg native Shawan Rice has drawn comparisons to Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, Adele, and Billie Holiday. Defty blending R&B and jazz influences with an unforgettable voice, Shawan will deliver the opening musical performance for the 2017 Harrisburg Book Festival.