Diversity committee and church host poet


PIQUA — The Diversity Committee at Edison State Community College and Bishop Brian Hamilton of the Transformed Life Church are pleased to invite area communities to the church, located at 421 Wood St., Piqua, at 11 a.m. on Feb. 11, to celebrate Black History Month.

Guests will be treated to a performance of the University of Dayton’s Professor Emeritus Dr. Herbert Woodward Martin’s farewell tour presenting Paul Laurence Dunbar’s dramatic, dialect poetry. In his brief writing career, Dayton-native Dunbar wrote 12 books of poetry, four novels, and four collections of short stories. According to Martin, “His dialect poetry sold as fast as he could write it, and his work resonates with both Black and white audiences.”

Martin is one of the children who came to Ohio as part of the large Black Migration of the 1950s and 1960s. His family migrated to Toledo from Birmingham, AL, where his father was a foundry worker.

After earning his first college degree from the University of Toledo, Martin earned subsequent degrees from Middlebury College, the University of New York/Buffalo, and Carnegie Mellon University. He has served as a Fullbright Scholar in Hungary, and his extensive academic work is archived at the University of Toledo.

Martin is known for his physical resemblance to Dunbar and the on-point ways in which he interprets his poetry.

Troy poet Cathryn Essinger said, “Dr. Herbert Woodward Martin, an Ohio treasure, is a legend in his own time and one of the most charismatic readers I have ever heard. He performs with a generosity that comes from the heart and an authority that makes Black history come to life.”

Martin has published 11 volumes of poetry and four librettos with the composer Adolphus Hailstork. “Knee on the Neck” has been premiered across the U.S. to rave reviews.

Bishop Hamilton said, “We feel blessed and honored to be hosting Dr. Herbert Woodward Martin with his gift of poetry in conjunction with Black History Month.”

Email Dr. Vivian Blevins with questions at [email protected].

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