Springfield, Ohio — Wittenberg University welcomes spoken-word poet, prison activist and educator Bryonn Bain to campus as its first Artist- In-Residence from Nov. 15-21. Bain will present “Lyrics From Lockdown: We Are & So I Am” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, in Bayley Auditorium, Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center; “Jesus the Revolutionary” at Weekday Chapel 11:20 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Weaver Chapel; and he will host a Poetry Slam at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, also in Bayley Auditorium.
The Artist-in-Residence program is a partnership among Wittenberg’s Office of the First-Year Experience, Office of Community Service, Center for Civic & Urban Engagement and Office of Student Development. It will include joint programming with groups throughout the Springfield and Clark County community, including Project Jericho, Forging Responsible Youth and the local Circles campaign.
Assistant Provost for the First-Year Experience, Associate Professor of Philosophy and WittSem Director Miguel Martinez-Saenz said, “In adopting this program, Wittenberg will demonstrate its continued commitment to increasing engagement with local communities as part of a comprehensive educational initiative.”
While on campus, Bain will visit classes and help develop a module for arts-based activism and engagement. He will also engage with the Springfield community in several ways: he will work with incarcerated youth at the Juvenile Detention Center, develop an arts experience for at-risk youth through his engagement with Project Jericho and Forging Responsible Youth. He will also visit with local high school students at Springfield High and help the local Circles Campaign think creatively about ways to build community in Springfield and Clark County.
This is Bain’s third visit to Wittenberg. He was previously on campus in 2002 and again in 2008, when he worked with Martinez-Saenz to accomplish several goals: to bring students in contact with a successful adult from a group that isn’t well represented on campus (Bain is African American with Trinidadian roots), to help students see the connections between the arts and social engagement, and to position Wittenberg’s first-year experience as a locus for discussions about difference.
After being named Nuyorican Grand Slam Poetry Champion at the 2000 National Poetry Slam, Bain began to organize artists to teach workshops in prisons nationwide through the “Lyrics on Lockdown” Tour. He uses his performance skills to further social justice causes.
According to Bain, his work in the law and business affairs departments at MTV and Sesame Street helped him decide to focus on his own art. He has said that the art of storytelling is what he’s most passionate about, and he has taught spoken word at NYU and has lectured and performed of spoken word at more than 100 colleges and universities nationwide, as well as in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. In 1997, he founded Blackout Arts Collective, a grassroots coalition of artists, activists and educators working to empower communities of color through the arts.
Bain graduated from New York’s Columbia College in 1995 with a major in political science and a concentration in black studies. He then earned a master’s degree in urban politics and cultural studies at NYU, and he completed his law degree at Harvard.
Written by: Phyllis Eberts