by Ashley Johnson
University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program will kick off its Stonecoast Reading Series on February 27 in celebration of Black History Month and the MFA Program’s Tenth Anniversary. The event will feature the music and poetry of Stonecoast student and local performer, Lady Zen.
“Black History Month highlights a tradition of creative expression,” says Stonecoast’s Associate Director, Robin Talbot. “One of Stonecoast’s fundamental values is to foster culturally diverse writers who have a clear understanding of the role writers play in social activism. We honor those writers who have contributed to these values.”
One of these writers is Stonecoast student and social activist, Lady Zen. Born in Brazil and adopted by American parents, Lady Zen began a journey in creative expression as a vocal child prodigy. She won numerous awards, including a J. William Fulbright Scholarship for Opera Performance. In 2007, Lady Zen moved to Portland, ME and experienced a renewed sense of creativity. She shifted her focus to poetry and began working with Portland’s music scene. In 2010 she released a five-track EP titled “Poverty to Poetry.” Lady Zen was also named a Maine Poet of the Month in 2012 and was a semi-finalist on the 2012 season of the X-Factor.
The Stonecoast Reading Series will occur on a bi-monthly basis beginning in February and will feature students, faculty and alumni from the program. Future events will include a celebration of National Poetry Month on April 24 with a reading given by Stonecoast Director Annie Finch, “Stonecoast stories” on June 26 featuring faculty member Sarah Braunstein, author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children, “Writing Nature: An Evening of Creative Nonfiction” on August 28, and “Goths and Demons: A Halloween Spookfest” featuring popular fiction writers on October 23. Stonecoast’s Director Annie Finch said of the Reading Series, “Stonecoast MFA has long wanted to start a reading series in order to give something back to this inspiring, creative community. Our tenth anniversary is the perfect time to launch, and Robin Talbot has developed a fabulous, must-see kickoff event.”
The Stonecoast Reading Series kickoff event will take place at 7:00pm, Wednesday, February 27 at Local Sprouts on 649 Congress St. in Portland.
For further announcements and a schedule of upcoming events in the Stonecoast Reading Series visit the Stonecoast MFA website at https://cms.usm.maine.edu/stonecoastmfa.