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Word S11.1 – Erotica, haikus and HBCUs with Rosemarie Dombrowski and NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe

On this Season 11 launch of “Word,” it’s National Haiku Writing Month and the 2024 KJZZ Haiku Writing Contest is underway. This year we want your haikus that answer the question: “What’s in store for ’24?” (See more at the end of this page).

Plus, one of the Valley’s longest-running artistic tributes to erotica returns just after Valentine’s Day with an art, music and poetry festival.

For Black History Month, we talk with NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe, who has edited a new book of essays about Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Page Turner Awards honors authors

An international writing competition that celebrates exceptional storytelling is underway. Paula Sheridan from the U.K. joins us to talk about the Page Turner Awards.

Now in its fifth year, the competition welcomes American authors, novelists and scriptwriters from all walks of life to showcase their writing talent and gain recognition. The competition encompasses three distinct categories: the Book Award for published works, the Writing Award for unpublished manuscripts and the Screenplay Award for unproduced scripts.

In its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity, Page Turner Awards is introducing two new Equality Awards: the Culture Award and the Phoenix Award. The Culture Award will recognize a work that celebrates diversity and promotes understanding between different cultures. The Phoenix Award will honor a writer who has overcome adversity and emerged with stronger writing.

There is a nominal cost, but you can use the following Word-exclusive discount code to enter the awards: 24EarlyBird10

Alwun House festival celebrates erotica

For decades, Alwun House in Phoenix has hosted an annual erotic festival which features artwork, music and a poetry stage.

Former Phoenix Poet Laureate and Arizona State University professor Rosemarie Dombrowski has been a returning guest on this show. Last year, she lost her mother and in the lead up to the discussion on this episode, Dombrowski mentioned 2023 has been the hardest year of her life. Nevertheless, she has persisted and will host the poetry portion of the ticketed event at Alwun House once again on Friday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m.

NOTE: This portion of the episode may not be suitable for all listeners.

NPR host's book features essays on HBCUs

NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” and “Up First” podcast host Ayesha Rascoe has edited a new book of essays about Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It’s titled, “HBCU Made: A Celebration of the Black College Experience.”

According to promotional material about the collection, "With a distinguished and diverse set of contributors, including Oprah Winfrey, Stacey Abrams, and Branford Marsalis,  HBCU Made is the only book of its kind, illuminating and celebrating the experience of going to a historically Black college or university—for proud alumni, their loved ones, current students, and anyone considering an HBCU.

In moving and candid essays about the schools that nurtured and educated them, a wide range of famous alums share their accounts of how they chose their HBCU, their first days on campus, the dynamic atmosphere of classes where students were constantly challenged to do their best, the professors who devoted themselves to the students, the marching bands and majorettes and how they were shaped by their rigorous training."

Regular listeners know I am the host of KJZZ's Weekend Edition on Saturday and Sunday, and Rascoe became the NPR "Weekend Edition Sunday" hostin March 2022.

In a moment of levity, we began our conversation about getting up well before dawn to bring you the news. Rascoe describes some of the highlights of the essays that are included and even gives some advice about attending college.

Enter KJZZ's Haiku Writing Contest through Feb. 23

It’s time to officially announce the 2024 KJZZ Haiku Writing Contest. Our theme this year is: “What’s in store for ’24?”

Send us your 17 syllable, 3-line haiku which answers that question.

Maybe it’s in relation to:

  • A New Year’s resolution you want to maintain.
  • A new hobby you want to explore.
  • A goal you want to achieve.
  • A place you’ve always wanted to travel.
  • A career change.
  • What’s your plan for this year?

It's easy to enter the contest.

There are also a couple of other opportunities for haiku writing contests. One is NaHaiWriMo, created by Michael Dylan Welch, a previous guest on "Word" and the inspiration for our own KJZZ effort.

Another is the Arizona Matsuri Haiku Contest, with a deadline of Feb. 16. 

We're grateful to be back for another season of entertaining and thought provoking literary convos. Thanks so much for listening and for  supporting public radio!

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Tom Maxedon is the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition on Saturday and Sunday from 6-10 a.m. and All Things Considered on Monday from 3-6 p.m.