New Orleans Public Library
African American Resource Center

Tom Dent Literary Festival
November 6-8, 2003
A Celebration of Poetry
Thursday, November 6

The Tom Dent Literary Festival is a three day event that celebrates African American literature. The festival is named in honor of the late Thomas Covington Dent, a New Orleans writer who provided venues for the expression of African American thought through literature, theatre and journal publishing. From November 6-8 the New Orleans Public Library opened its doors to authors, storytellers and poets and the recipients of their works. Sponsored by the African American Resource Center, with funding from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and corporate support from The New Orleans Tribune newspaper, the Tom Dent Festival provided enthusiastic programs centered around African American literature.

The Tom Dent Literary Festival began with the celebration of African American poetry on November 6. Mona Lisa Saloy, Assistant Professor of English at Dillard University, gave a lecture on "The Relationship of Oral Lore to Contemporary African American Literature."

The program was hosted by local poet Sukether Williams Simmons. Throughout the evening Simmons shared poetry from her book From the Corners of My Mind.

The program began with select poetry readings done by African American Resource Center staff Valencia Hawkins and Errin Levingston (shown here).

Poetry night was well received by the community as patrons packed the Main Library to celebrate African American poetry and hear poems written by winners of the Langston Hughes Poetry Contest.

Wilmarine Hurst, Managing Editor of the New Orleans Tribune newspaper, presented winners of the Langston Hughes Poetry Contest with their awards.

Patricia London reades her poem, "In the Belly of the Beast," which received Honorable Mention in the Langston Hughes Poetry Contest.

Evan Cleaver, a student at Dillard University and member of the school's basketball team, received Third Place honors for his poem entitled "Langston."

Following the program, Valencia Hawkins, Head, African American Resource Center (far right), congratulates the evening's presenters and some of the winners of the Langston Hughes Poetry Contest: (l-r) Wilmarine Hurst, editor, New Orleans Tribune newspaper; Mona Lisa Saloy, Professor of English, Dillard University; Patricia London, honorable mention winner; Elaine Castellon, mother of poetry contest winner, Freddie Castellon; Benny Jefferson, honorable mention winner; Sukether Williams Simmons, the evening's hostess, and Hawkins.

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