By M.L. Byrd
Please welcome Arthur Pfister, aka, Professor Arturo to town. Pfister is a spoken word poet and fiction writer who has performed at large national venues, including the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans and the Jazz Foundation of America in New York City. Pfister’s identification and facility with the oral tradition come from his childhood in New Orleans’ Sixth Ward. In one traditional oral genre, the toast, the strength of speaking and power of words are strong enough to overcome all societal ills. A master toaster, Pfister, like other practitioners, becomes unified with his subject. Through his artistry, both performer and audience are able to share the hero’s success and nobility. Pfister explains that his poems are often long “for the purpose of pairing them with jazz tunes that tend to be rather lengthier than the three-minute ditty.”
Often lovingly called the Poet Laureate of N’awlins, the writer ironically found himself swept out of the city when the levees broke. Now in Connecticut, Pfister teaches at Norwalk Community College. His most recent publication, Forty Years of Being a New Orleans Poet, is a “time-travel through [his] words.” The volume traces his poetic development and attempts to “give the sense of the city being a living, breathing being.”
While in town, Pfister will offer a jazz reading with piano accompanist Weldon Hill, Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Virginia State University. The VSU performance will be held on Wednesday, February 22nd from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on the campus in Davis Recital Hall, Room 150. Pfister will also read at Sycamore Rouge on Thursday, February 23nd at 8:00 p.m. This reading is co-sponsored by Sycamore Rouge and the Petersburg Library as part of its Black History Month Series. Both events are free and open to the public.