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Spring Reading with the Mass Review

ON APRIL 6, 2023, AT 6:00, in the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Old Chapel, the Massachusetts Review will be hosting a celebration of the launch of its Spring issue. The Colombian writer and storyteller Amalialú Posso Figueroa will begin the festivities, along with her English translators, poet Shanta Lee and Comp Lit Ph.D candidate Jeff Diteman. A story by the Nigerian novelist Chuma Nwokolo will then be read by UMass Ph.D candidate in Afro-American Studies and actor, Kym Newberry. The program will close with a reading by the University’s own Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner, Martín Espada.

Dramatis Personae

MARTÍN ESPADA’slatest book of poems is called Floaters(2021), winnerof the National Book Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Other collections of poems include Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016), The Trouble Ball (2011), and Alabanza (2003). He is the editor of What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (2019). He has received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, a Letras Boricuas Fellowship,and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches at the University of MassachusettsAmherst.

CHUMA NWOKOLO is a Nigerian lawyer and writer, and the publisher of African Writing magazine. He is author of the poetry collection Memories of Stone, the serial Tales by Conversation, and many novels, including Diaries of a Dead African and, most recently, The Extinction of Menai. He was a participant in the University’s celebration of the legacy of Chinua Achebe, held on the fortieth anniversary of Achebe’s seminal essay “An Image of Africa.”” Chuma has been writer-in-residence at the Ashmolean Museumin Oxford. He lives in England.

AMALIA LUCÍA POSSO FIGUEROA is a Colombian writer, storyteller, psychotherapist, and professor who has dedicated her life to representing, in writing and performance, the oral traditionsof women fromthe Pacific coastal plain. The translation of her story “Fidelia Córdoba,” published in the Spring 2023 issue of the Massachusetts Review, is the first from her four books of stories to appear in English. We expect to be seeing many more, very soon.

JEFF DITEMAN is a literary scholar and translator working from French and Spanish to English. His translation of The Anarchist Who Shared My Name by Pablo Martín Sánchez was published in 2018 by Deep Vellum. Diteman has also translated poetry by Raymond Queneau, and regularly translates journalism and children’s literature. A PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at UMass Amherst, Diteman’s scholarly interests include translation studies, cultural hybridity, experimental poetics, feminism, and postcolonial theory. He is Reviews Editor for the Massachusetts Review.

SHANTA LEE is the author of the poetry collections. Black Metamorphoses and Ghettoclaustrophobia, winner of the 2020 Diode Press full-length book prize.When Leeis not writing poetry, she is working on her memoir project, doing arts and culture reviews for Vermont Public Radio, and tending to her photography projects. She teaches Media Studies at The Putney School.

KYMBERLY S.NEWBERRY is an accomplished television and film actress who,following a successful career in Hollywood, is currently a PhD candidate in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass. A relentless Francophone, while living in Los Angeles Newberry conceived “SiggiDimanche,” a celebration of Francophone Africa and the French-speaking African Diaspora through literature, food, music and cinema.An annual event “Siggi Dimanche” was recognized by the City of Los Angeles for its contributions to the cultural fabric of the city.Her dissertation confronts curatorial dilemmas of sensitively stewarding contemporary African art in Western art museums.In 2021, Ms. Newberry was named a cohort member of the CCL/MellonFoundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice. In August, Newberry will be the curator of anexhibition, “And I Shall Splatter the Sky Utterly: One Romauld Hazoumè,”at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. The exhibition presents the work of Beninois artist Romauld Hazoumè, in conversation with the tireless human rights campaigns of the late Nigerian writer and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. But above all, let’s not forget her brilliant essay contributions to the Massachusetts Review!

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