ICYMI: Late Women Trustees of the Writers Club to Be Honored

Dr. Lena J. Weathers

[East St. Louis, IL]– Dr. Lena Jane Weathers (1930-2017), who was a lifelong resident of East St. Louis and an invaluable leader and patron of this community, will be honored along with four other late trustees of the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club on Tuesday, March 21.

The free event will take place at 6:00 pm in Room 2083 of Building “B” on the ESL/SIUE Higher Education Campus, 601 J.R. Thompson Drive 62201. Founded in 1986, the Writers Club turned 30 in 2016.

Other trustee-honorees are poet-novelist-scholar Margaret Walker Alexander (1915-1998); poet-autobiographer-actress-filmmaker Maya Angelou (1928-2014); Pulitzer Prize-winning former Illinois Poet Laureate & novelist Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000); and ESL native daughter Barbara Ann Teer (1937-2008), founder of the National Black Theatre of Harlem. Brooks’s centennial is this year.

Members of the Writers Club’s Soular Systems Ensemble—Roscoe “Ros” Crenshaw, Salim Kenyatta, Charlois Lumpkin (Mali Newman), Darlene Roy (Club prez), and Jaye Willis—will perform “kwansabas” in honor of the trustees. Special guests and an art/photo exhibit will also be part of the program.

Current Club trustees include Avery Brooks, Haki R. Madhubuti, Walter Mosley, Quincy Troupe and Jerry W. Ward, Jr. Other deceased trustees: Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) and Raymond R. Patterson (1929-2002).

In addition to having appeared here as guests of the Club, trustees also served on the editorial board of Drumvoices Revue, a literary-cultural journal formerly co-published by the Club and SIUE’s English Department.

One of the Club’s signature inventions is the “kwansaba,” a poem of “sevens”–seven lines, seven words per line, with each word having no more than seven letters. Exceptions to the seven-letter rule are foreign terms, proper nouns and quoted words or passages.

Of the trustees, Dr. Weathers and Dr. Ward have written kwansabas. Others have been the subject of special issues of Drumvoices where they were honored with kwansabas.

Eugene B. Redmond

Hundreds of examples of the form appear in Drumvoices and dozens of other publications. In the past couple of years alone, three volumes of poetry–by Tara Betts, Treasure Shields Redmond and Darlene Roy—have been devoted wholly or in part to the kwansaba.

Writer Henry Lee Dumas (1934-1968), for whom Eugene B. Redmond has served as literary executor for the past 48 years, is the Club’s patron saint.

For information about the March 21 program or the Club, call 618 650-3991; write EBR Writers Club at P.O. Box 6165, ESL, IL 62201; or email: eredmon@siue.edu.