NEW ORLEANS –C. Liegh McInnis, a poet, author and educator, will headline the Tom Dent Literary Showcase, where a diverse group of scribes will take the stage at Georges Auditorium on Dillard University’s campus on Friday, November 4, at 7 p.m.
L. Kasimu Harris, writer and photographer, and Dillard University students, Angelle Gray and Courtland Powell, who are both spoken word artists, will precede McInnis.
McInnis is an instructor of English at Jackson State University and the author of eight books, including four collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction, Scripts: Sketches and Tales of Urban Mississippi, one work of literary criticism and was previously the publisher and editor of Black Magnolias Literary Journal.
“McInnis is well trained in black letters and is extremely knowledgeable about those who came before him and he understands on whose backs he stands,” said Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy. She organized the event and curated writers of different genres and generations and is the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor & Coordinator English Program at Dillard. Saloy described McInnis as a literary activist, who imparts that wisdom and knowledge to another generation. She said: “His brilliance is just there and intellectually, he is a head above a lot of people.”
Harris is a storyteller, who uses writing, photography and performance video. His work has been in more than 20 group exhibitions across America, two internationally and three solo photography exhibitions, including one earlier this year in New York. He has written for the Oxford American, Yahoo Food,and Southern Living and The FADER. Most recently, a feature he wrote forEdible New Orleans was selected for the book “Best Food Writing 2016.” Harris is also the assistant director of Communications and Marketing at Dillard University.
“I’ve seen L. Kasimu come up through the neighborhoods with the Melanated Writers Collective and do his thing,” said Saloy. “The fact that he’s here at Dillard, I think it’s an honor for us to showcase him and to let people know he’s here and what he has to offer.”
Giving was paramount to Tom Dent. He worked tirelessly to groom other black writers and form creative communities. He was an accomplished writer and involved in the Congo Square Writers' Union (New Orleans) and the Umbra Workshop (New York), the first post-civil rights Black literary workshop. He was a son of Jessie Covington and Albert Dent, former president of Dillard University. Tom Dent died in 1998. And since 1999, the African American Resource Center of the New Orleans Public Library has had some variation of events that celebrated his life and legacy. Saloy and Dillard University students have been featured in the event from its inception. Four years ago, the program moved to Dillard and is now the Tom Dent Literary Showcase.
“From the time I came here in 1991, he was a part of the intellectual life at Dillard.” Saloy said. “His loss is felt throughout the literary community, but his lessons of literary organization and literary activism is not lost on me or on my students.”
On Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., in Georges Auditorium, McInnis will lead a writer's workshop that’s an activity aimed at cultivating young writers with creative work and getting constructive feedback from a professional.
Saloy also involved multiple Dillard students on the showcase program, including Gray and Powell. Their performances will mark spoke word’s debut at the Tom Dent Literary Showcase.
Both the events are free and the writer’s workshop is open to all students at Dillard and across New Orleans. For more information and to RVSP for the writer’s workshop, before 5 p.m., on November 2, contact Mona Lisa Saloy at