William Alfred Nu’utupu Giles events to include ‘Until Name Becomes Prayer,’ ‘Rethinking Race’ at University of Akron, open mics, teen workshops
— William Alfred Nu’utupu Giles is a second generation Samoan immigrant, poet and arts educator, whose spoken word continues the Pacific oral tradition of storytelling as living history. Later this month, the international slam poet champion will visit Akron as a stop on his national poetry tour, “Until Name Becomes Prayer.”
A community event will take place Monday, Feb. 26, 7 to 10 p.m., at Summit Artspace (140 E. Market St., 3rd floor). The event, which is free and open to the public, pays homage “to every indigenous and immigrant mouth that had to become a history book” and will include performances from Giles and local Akron area artists from V.I.B.E. Collective–Himalayan Music Academy (music/dance), Gum-Dip Theatre (theatre), Hula Fusion (dance), Akron BMe Community (poetry), Pumpkin (pottery) and Poetry is Life Publishing (poetry). Arts and culture vendors also will be on hand at the event, selling their works.
“I’m coming to Akron to converse and share my home, in the hopes that you can see it as more than just a honeymoon vacation, a Disney movie, or a place where nuclear war might begin,” said Giles. “And I want to learn about the Akron that isn’t just LeBron James. We live in a really strange world that I’m convinced doesn’t need to be filled with strangers.”
On Tuesday, Feb. 27, Giles will visit the University of Akron as a follow-up to the “Rethinking Race” series, where he will facilitate a writing workshop for University of Akron students, an open mic at the Student Union Starbucks and a Q&A afterwards.
The open mic and Q&A (beginning at 12:30 p.m.) are free and open to the public. In the late afternoon, Giles will facilitate one of his writing workshops for Akron area teens in S.W.A.G. (Students with a Goal) and Girls Studio (a teen program of South Street Ministries,) both based in the Summit Lake community, and sponsored by sponsored by Summit Artspace and South Street Ministries.
His visit will conclude with an open mic hosted by The Exchange House (760 Elma St., on North Hill) in conjunction with Gum-Dip Theatre, called “Until Name Becomes Prayer: An Open Mic Response,” beginning at 7 p.m. This event also is free and open to the public.
Giles’ work has put him on stages ranging from the San Francisco Opera House to the Kennedy Center, and into classrooms from the University of Papua New Guinea to Yale University.
The national poetry tour stop in Akron was funded primarily through a grassroots gofundme campaign and an educational fundraiser called “No, this is not a luau,” both held last December, where community members from all over the nation gave financially in support of the vision that was cast by organizer Amber Cullen.
In addition, financial support was also received from ASIA Inc, South Street Ministries, The Center for Inner Peace, Sandy Bottom Bowls and Hula Fusion. Many members of V.I.B.E. Collective, Summit Artspace, the Akronist, and the Big Love Network also provided support to make this possible.
Every partner, from financial partners, to artistic collaborative partners, carry weight in the story. Noor Hindi, a poet and community leader in Akron, said, “I’m excited to see this event come to life. It’s one of the few strictly POC focused events in Akron, and I’m eager to watch so many great artists come together and share a space.”
“It has been a great honor to join the voices of many like-minded and like-hearted people into one space through ‘Until Name Becomes Prayer’ to shout louder, together,” said Cullen, “My hope is that we as a city can open our hands and hearts to bear witness, and listen.”
“All of my poems are stories about home,” says Giles, “And all of my hopes are to learn about yours, Akron.”