By Jan Worth-Nelson
Flint’s new poet laureate Semaj Brown will present a poetry and prose reading at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Kiva Auditorium at the University of Michigan – Flint.
The event, sponsored by the UM – Flint English Department, is free and open to the public.
Also part of the evening will be a discussion with UM-Flint linguistics professor Erica Britt, along with a book signing.
Brown, a poet, author, scientist, educator and artist, was named Flint’s first poet laureate in September by proclamation of Mayor Karen Weaver. In the volunteer position, Brown already is working to develop literacy initiatives, especially for children, citywide.
Author of the 2019 book Bleeding Fire: Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light, Brown has brought literacy through hard-hitting poems of empowerment. In her 2012 book, Feasts and Fables from the Planted Kingdom, she combines whimsical original tales and advice on cooking, science and nutrition which began as supports to the family medical practice of her husband, Dr. James Brown.
With Dr. Brown, she has led more than 70 workshops on diet and nutrition in Genesee County. In 2018 she began teaching and consulting for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint.
Brown graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in biology and taught science in the Detroit Public Schools, creating innovative science education curricula statewide and nationally.
“Science is my work; art is my work — I really don’t see the difference,” she said in a September EVM article about her appointment and asked to reflect on her omnivorous background and body of material. “It is all one–it’s all connected in my world.”
Brown’s husband also is a musician and composer, often joining her in her performances. At the Flint Public Library he accompanied her on bongo drums and played an “arborlune” — a stringed instrument he literally made from backyard branches.
Brown has performed widely in Flint and Detroit, including at the launch of Bleeding Fire at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. She was part of the 2017 “Women of a New Tribe” exhibit at the Flint Institute of Arts and created a poem inspired by the show called “Mother Ocean.”
The Kiva Auditorium is at 400 E. Mill St. inside the Harding Mott University Center at UM – Flint. Brown has established this email for the poet laureate position: firstname.lastname@example.org
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at email@example.com.