Art & Activism: An Interview with Romeo Azondekon

By Daouda Bambaromeo-closeup

For IDS400 Topics in Multiculturalism,  I had the opportunity to interview an artist about art and social movements. You may know Romeo Azondekon as a college administrator, an advisor or the first director of Central Penn College’s Center for Cultural Diversity, but did you know that he is also a multi-talented artist?

His career at Central Penn College began six years ago and he has promoted diversity and inclusion through his many efforts and initiatives.  Romeo is the founder and advisor of the International Society Club, which is a diverse club with members from different countries such as the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Jamaica, Guinea, South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

Romeo is also an artist who paints, makes collages, does mixed media, and uses oils. Most of his art work focuses on texture.

He says,  “Art is like a signature to a social movement because it helps the movement leave a legacy behind for the next generation to view and reflect on the struggles their ancestors went through.”

He started painting in his early twenties. Romeo says that art in a social movement is very important because it is a way of expression. It is a powerful way to motivate people to join a movement because it unifies people and creates one unique voice. Almost every movement used art in some shape or form. Art can play a big role in a movement. Art can be in the form of music, poetry, painting, or even attire.

“I have always been passionate about art,” he says. For Romeo, like other activists, art is both identity and self-expression.

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The ADHD Brain and Listening Skills

By Jadon Buser

Reading or reciting your own creative work in public can be a daunting task when you first start out, especially if you’re audience doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to you. Adding vocal variety, keeping it brief and finding other ways to engage your audience can change your poetry reading into a powerful poetic performance. In this essay, Allied Health major Jadon Buser explains the art of listening with ADHD. ~ Prof. Maria Thiaw

jadon1-2Reflecting on my own listening skills, I like to think I do better than the average ADHD student. ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. While everyone with ADHD is different, three major areas can be affected: Impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. These definitely get in the way when trying to be a good listener, however, I believe that my ADHD has actually assisted my information processing skills. Since I am unable to hold constant attention or retain much information, I have adapted certain coping mechanisms to compensate and my skills in organizing and filtering relevant information have improved.

With greater awareness of my “listener’s curve” during a presentation, I have conditioned myself to perk at attention to the subtler pauses and tonality changes that indicate that a person is moving on to the next point of their presentation. After I feel that I have processed the necessary information for that point, and the speaker begins to add a story of their own to demonstrate their point or give other supplemental information, I’ll typically “clock out” for the remainder of that point discussion, in order to conserve enough “attentive energy” – so to speak – to fully process the next point made.

This method is not as effective, however, when instructions are being given or when a long list of important details are being explained. That is when I have the most trouble retaining information, and effective note-taking becomes an absolute must.

Our culture seems to be built to exacerbate symptoms of ADHD, and I can immediately think of 3 ways that it does so:

  • Interruptive dialogue,
  • televised media, and
  • social media.

Interruptive dialogue is the norm of socializing in the United States. More often than not, socializing (not public speaking) typically can be broken down to one person making a statement, then the rest of the members of that conversation race to see who can give their response first or start a new topic first. This reduces listening ability because, in order to be the fastest, one must stop listening and be prepared to interject at a moment’s pause. Waiting till a person finishes their subject completely not only shows respect, but you may learn something from them that you wouldn’t have heard otherwise.

Televised media also discourages listening ability through its ADHD-like speed and rate of subject changes. If you ever pay close attention to the shows and commercials you watch, the speed at which they speak and introduce new ideas is faster and more intense than what the average person CAN speak, which turns your brain onto overdrive in order to keep up with it all. (Ever notice how you typically feel revved up rather than relaxed after watching TV, and that it can be harder to fall asleep right after a show?) The only solution to this that I know of is simply to reduce the amount of television that you watch, so that you can save your mental energy for more important things.

Social media is the last culprit that I’ll mention, and it may not be in the way that you think. While social media has done a great job of ruining dinner conversations and making speakers feel irrelevant, the core issue is the exacerbation of ADHD-like symptoms through overstimulation of the brain. If you look at social media – let’s say Facebook – you scroll through a wall of short, provocative statements that are all made to grab your attention. It’s no wonder that we subconsciously go to social media on our phones whenever we’re not being stimulated by our surroundings. The simple solution here – give Facebook a rest, because in reality you know that, in the last 30 seconds, you really haven’t missed anything.

Hope my spiel on listening skills from the mind of an ADHD college student gave you some food for thought!

 

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Yin Yang

A poem by Christine Fusselman, Class of 2016

 

Colorful leaves

radiate like fire’s glow.

As embers rise into the dark,

flaming foliage twists, turns,

descends from lofty limbs.

Tugged from their summer home

by autumn’s whistling winds.

Beautiful turns ugly,

falling to the ground.

Withering, rotting, burying itself

within an earthy mound.

yinyang

Yet, death nurtures life

in the calm, still winter.

Cold turns to warm.

Old becomes new.

Brilliant blooms spring from below

displacing winter’s hue.

Tender stems become strong trees

wrapping themselves in jackets of leaves –

bright, beautiful, colorful leaves.

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Professor Gadsden’s African American Storytellers Fest Brings History and Culture to the City of Harrisburg

By Norman Geary

On Sunday, October 16, the Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers’ Wordshop had an African American Storytellers Festival at the State Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  This event was co-sponsored by Jump Street, Life Esteem Inc., Community Art Publishers, PA Council of the Arts, and Imani African Christian Church.

Nathaniel Gadsden's Writers Wordshop is the longest running poetry venue in Harrisburg. It meets on Fridays at 7 at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop is the longest running poetry venue in Harrisburg. It meets on Fridays at 7 at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

Dr. Nathaniel Gadsden, a professor of African American History at Central Penn College and the founder of the Writer’s Wordshop, hosted the event which featured many prominent artists and speakers including:  professional storyteller Denise Valentine, actress and author Lynn Blackston, professor and writer Ron Kipling, and performance poets Terri A. Durden and Carla Christopher.

The main focus of Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop is to provide a platform for poets and spoken word artists to perform and to get published.   The festival is just one of the many cultural family events held by Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers’ Wordshop at the State Museum throughout the year.  The Writers’ Wordshop gets creative individuals involved by giving them exposure while educating the audience about African American history, which includes a number of social topics affecting the African American culture as a whole.

The Wordshop helps performers, writers and poets find their voice and gain confidence to promote publication of their works.  Students of the Wordshop have become known for their works and are often looked upon and asked to perform and participate in events throughout the region.

Terri A. Durden, Founder/CEO of Community-4-Change, Inc. says, “I’ve been writing since 8th grade.  I started writing little love letters to my boyfriend…  I would take songs and blend them together and make a poem until I learned to create my own poetry. “  Now Terri is an award winning poet with a book published, I Will Remember You and one coming out –  Words, Sounds, Echoing.

The Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop meets at The Midtown Scholar Book Store, 3rd & Verbeke Street, Harrisburg, PA 1st , 2nd and 4th Fridays from 7-9 p.m.  Each meeting features a performer and an open reading. They are free to the public.  Everyone is welcome to join the Writers Wordshop.

For more information contact: Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Gadsden at nathanielgadsden@centralpenn.edu or 717-608-2312.


Norman Geary is a Corporate Communications major at Central Penn College, a member of the Media Club, and a regular contributor to The Knightly News.

 

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Knight Writers and Library Staff Bring Hogwartz to Central Penn College

On Saturday, October 22nd from 10 AM to 2 PM, join the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club and the library staff for a magical day of Harry Potter themed games and activities. Visitors of all ages can climb through a giant spider web, meet a fortune teller or get “beanboozled” by some “every flavor” jelly beans. There will be fun activities for all ages in the library, which will be transformed into Hogwartz School of Wizardry for Fall Harvest.

“I thought Harry Potter was a fun literary way to celebrate the season with students, alumni and families that visit for Fall Harvest,” says Maria Thiaw, advisor of the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club.

Knight Writers helped decorate, make invitations and even created a game similar to PokemonGo for guests that arrive prepared with a smartphone. Expect a magical time! The event will be held from 10AM to 2PM in the Charles T. Jones Library at Central Penn College on Saturday, October 22nd. It is free and open to the public. You are encouraged to bring your Smartphone but remember – first years are not allowed to bring their own broom!  See you at Fall Harvest!

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It’s Dictionary Day!

Snip20140915_1Let me guess, you didn’t know that today, October 16th, is the day where avid dictionary-lovers cling to their dusty tomes and reminiscence about the days when students were taught how to decipher the pronunciation key and how to use catchwords as the ‘quick search’ feature before there were such things a ‘quick search’ features.  But don’t worry!  You don’t have to be a lexicographer to enjoy today.

noahDictionary Day shares its day with one of the celebrities of the dictionary world (the word celebrity, of course, is always relative: look it up!): Noah Webster, a man largely responsible for causing fights between family members when playing Scrabble (“What do you mean hollar isn’t in the dictionary?  It’s a word.  Like down in the hollar!”).

441820You probably don’t remember the days before Google or Dictionary.com when if you wanted to know how to spell something or needed to find its definition that you had to lug out the big red book with Merriam-Webster emblazoned in gold on the cover like the seal of some secret society whose sole mission was to protect words from an oncoming apocalypse where only cockroaches and antiquated words hither swithly avaunt into the sunset.

So, why should we continue to celebrate a piece of writing that is more likely to be used as a doorstop rather than be read?  Because, like most things, it’s not about the packaging: it’s about the contents.  Words!  Beautiful amazing words.  Webster devoted his entire professional career so that you could call your favorite professor’s voice sonorous; your least favorite cafeteria item odious; and the odd day when you get out of class five minutes early exhilarating.

And digital dictionaries have actually brought more people to these words than the printed loadstones that Webster had to work with.  You can now get a ‘word of the day‘ that will tell you divarication means on one day and flapdoodle means the next.  There are even ‘word of the day’ apps that will send fantastic words to your phone, so you can impress everyone you know by correctly using indemnify in a sentence.


Flapdoodle


There are no rules for celebrating Dictionary Day (none that I could find at least in my albeit very cursory internet search), and rather than tell you all to pick up your dictionary and start with aardvark, I would encourage you to find a couple of new favorite words and use them liberally: lascivious, masticate, garrulous, bellicose, egalitariancaveat.

So go on and engage in some word play!

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Submit a Poem by November 1!

Would you like a vibrant young audience to read your work? Then it’s time for you to submit a poem to the Poem for Your Pocket project! If you would like to submit a poem, send it in an email to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu with the subject line: Poem For Your Pocket. The deadline is November 1.
 
The Poem for Your PocKnight Writersket project is a collection of poetry written by students, faculty, staff and friends of Central Penn College. Published authors like Shaashawn Dial-Snowden and Maria James-Thiaw as well as student authors like past KW president Greg Jones have poems in the mix. This virtual poetry chapbook is a great way to have your work read by young readers while helping out student writers. Instead of a traditional chapbook with pages, ours is a gumball machine that is out at campus events like Fall Harvest and the annual Poetry Slam. Patrons pay 25 cents for a bit of your inspiration and a ring!
 
Make your poetry the prize! Submit a poem to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu today! For more information, contact Professor Maria Thiaw, 717-728-2524.

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From Page to Stage: Spring Contest Winners Get Ready for the Summer Slam

By Professor Maria Thiaw     Snip20150812_12

In honor of National Poetry Month, The Academy of American Poets sponsors a contest each year for undergraduate writers at colleges and universities throughout the country. This year, The Central Pen Poetry Prize’s panel of judges, a group of distinguished professors and writers, received numerous high quality entries. The competition was fierce, but in the end, three emerging wordsmiths rose to the surface. I am pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Central Pen Poetry Prize. They are:

Third Place:                       Story of a Dark Skin Beauty by Nautica Chance

In the words of one distinguished judge: “It’s a powerful and emotional narrative about a pain that is all too real.”

Nautica performed this poignant poem at Central Penn College’s first Kwanzaa celebration last December, and its power resonates whether one hears it on the stage or reads it on the page. Nautica will receive $25.

 

Second Place:                   I Am Black History by Teta GayeTeta5

“Potent imagery,” commented one judge, “[Teta] delivers a strong sense of self and place with an appreciation of self and history and the connections in between. Strong and eloquent.”

Teta, president of the Knight Writers’ Creative Writing Club, speaks out in the spirit of ancestral pride in this cultural anthem.  She will receive $50.00.

 

First Place:                         One of Those Days by Mary Weingartner

Mary’s poem began as a writing prompt in her ENG300 Creative Writing class. A blend of ekphrastic writing (writing inspired by art) and emotionalism, this well-formed free verse poem is a vivid word-painting. One of the judges said, “This poem has a strong emotional impact…the ending is amazing!”

Mary will receive $100.00 and a year’s membership in the Academy of American Poets as well as the chance to be entered into the Academy’s national prize that will award the winning student $1,000.

On behalf of The Central Pen staff, the distinguished judges and the Dean of Humanities and Sciences, special thanks go out to all of the students that worked hard to polish their poems and submit them. As stated previously, the competition was fierce. All of these budding artists created beautiful and thought provoking work.  Continue writing because you are all incredibly talented!

Keep your eye on updates from The Central Pen. The Summer Poetry Slam, a spoken word poetry competition is Wednesday, September 7th at 7pm in the Capital BlueCross Theatre! We want to hear your voices.

To enter the slam or to get more information about The Knight Writers Creative Writing Club or The Central Pen, contact thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu or see me, Professor Maria Thiaw in Bollinger 46.

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by | August 9, 2016 · 7:21 pm

Happy Summer!

CentralPen LogoThe staff of The Central Pen Literary E-zine welcome you back for the Summer term!  Spring was extremely busy and our creative writing students and staff worked to compile a plethora of new poems and articles which you will see post periodically this term. You can also follow us on our new Twitter page: @CentralPen. Central Penn College is filled with incredibly talented students!

We are excited to meet the first term students and those who are just transferring in as well. We are planning an a term full of summer fun activities including the Afro-chic Boutique on July 16th and a poetry slam on September 7th. Please get to know us and the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club at Club Fair on Wednesday, July 6th outside the Knight and Day Cafe.

The Central Pen is the voice of the Knight Writers, promoting the arts and showcasing the work of creative friends, faculty and staff of Central Penn College. If you enjoy writing or visual art, please consider submitting a poem, short story, article or artwork to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu today!

Lastly, The Central Pen staff would like to offer a hearty congratulations to Dr. Karen Scolforo, who graduated from Southern New Hampshire University over break with her MFA in Creative Wriitng. Thank you for modeling the writing life and embracing the arts at Central Penn College. We can’t wait to see that novel in print!

Happy Summer! See you at Club Fair!

The Central Pen Staff

 

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Call for Submissions!

TypewriterIn anticipation for a future print edition of The Central Pen Literary E-zine, the new Central Pen staff is planning a submission blitz! That means that we need YOU to polish up your best poems, short stories, creative non fiction or visual art and submit to us via email: thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu. We are looking for unpublished work by students, staff, faculty and alumni of Central Penn College.

When you submit, You retain all rights to your work. By sending your work in to us, you are consenting to The Central Pen publishing it to the site.  We may or may not publish your work in our annual print magazine, and retain the right to republish the work on the site at our discretion.  There is no payment for the work–only the glory of being part of The Central Pen!

Please include the following contact information:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Short Biography
  • Photograph

– – –

This submission blitz ends Friday May 5th! Send in your poetry, short story, visual art or essay today!

~ Acquisitions Team

Submission Flyer

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