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Earl Hairston to Perform today at 15th annual D.C. Poetry Festival

By Staff | Aug 21, 2015

Poet Earl Hairston, of Martinsburg, performs original spoken word poetry at the 15th annual D.C. Poetry Festival Honoring Gil Scott-Heron. Presented by Genesis Poets, this year’s festival celebrates the newly endowed Gil Scott-Heron Chair at the University of the District Columbia.

The festival, held at Carter Barron Amphitheater, also features the Steven B and Friends band. Gates open at 7 p.m., and the program begins at 7:30 pm. The amphitheater is located at 4850 Colorado Ave. NW in D.C.

Scott-Heron (19492011) was a popular rhythm and blues and soul music writer and performer who also pioneered early rap music. Born to a Jamaican soccer-player father and college-educated mother, Scott-Heron completed his first book of poetry at age 13.

Essence magazine called Scott-Heron’s 1968 novel The Vulture “a strong start for a writer with important things to say.” During his high school years in the Bronx, New York, Scott-Heron was introduced to the work of poets Leroi Jones-later Amiri Baraka-(19342014) and Langston Hughes (19021967).

A Martinsburg native, Hairston first performed at the poetry festival last year and was invited back, on the spot, for this year.

He has performed locally at Good Natured Vegetarian Cafe and Restaurant on Raleigh Street in Martinsburg and in Shepherdstown at Shaharazades Exotic Tea Room and the annual Left of the Bank poetry fundraiser for the Shepherdstown Public Library.

Hairston has also performed at the popular-and demanding-Busboys and Poets venue in the D.C. area. He performs at Good Natured Vegetarian Cafe and Restaurant on August 29 in the “Boys Club” program, which follows a June “Ladies Night” program at the cafe. Admission to that event is free, and the public is welcome.