Abena Songbird collaborating with the Native American Cultural Center and the South of Market Cultural Center (fiscal sponsor)
Award: $15,000 Literary Arts Grant awarded in June 2001
Presented: Website launched in September 2001, live performance in October 2002
Poet Abena Songbird and the Native American Cultural Center, a program of the San Francisco Arts Commission, collaborated to produce “RoundDance,” a group poem instigated on the Web among Native American writers. Their process culminated with publication of the poem on the Center’s Website and a live poetry jam. It also featured a CD-ROM featuring the poem along with more than 50 Native artists and poets’ images, and video clips of the live performance. Multimedia artist Derek Wilson collaborated with the poet and Center on technical aspects of the project and contributed a piece to the poem.
“RoundDance” was developed through a “round robin” of poetry gathered through an on-line bulletin board. Initially fifteen Native American writers were invited to participate, but the spontaneous and improvisational nature of the project led to many others contributing. The poems began with inspiration from Abena Songbird’s collection Bitterroot.
Sandra Abena (Songbird) Naylor is an Abenaki Indian (French/Irish) poet and singer, a member of the Missisquoi Abenaki of Swanton, Vermont. She was born and lived more than 27 winters in Vermont and four years in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time of this grant award, she had spent 14 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She later moved to South Dakota.
The Native American Cultural Center (NACC) was one of the City of San Francisco’s neighborhood cultural centers. Its initial activities focused on regranting support to Native American cultural and social organizations, and it has evolved into the Native American Arts and Cultural Traditions Program, an ongoing grantmaking program managed by the San Francisco Arts Commission.