Bob Holman and Alhaji Papa Susso to Speak at Columbia on "The Re-emergence of the Oral Tradition in the Digital Age"

NEW YORK, April 4, 2006 The Friends of the Columbia Libraries are pleased to sponsor a presentation next week by Bob Holman, Visiting Professor of Writing at Columbia’s School of the Arts and proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club, and Alhaji Papa Susso, one of The Gambia’s leading griots—or keepers of West African oral traditions. Together, these artists will illuminate poetry traditions from ancient oral cultures to the ‘Make It New’ aesthetic of contemporary U.S. poetry. The event will take place Tuesday, April 11 at 6:00 p.m., in the Journalism Building’s 3rd Floor World Room on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus.

Photo by Jonas Steengaard for Human Rights Watch

Holman is one of the country’s most influential performing poets, whose work reaches from Slam to Hiphop to spoken word poetry. Holman was a founding editor of the NYC Poetry Calendar and founding M.C. of the Nuyorican Poets Café’s Poetry Slams from 1988 to 1996. In addition to his ongoing work with educational programs at Columbia and the Bowery Poetry Club, Holman has produced Emmy-winning poetry programs for television, edited and co-edited a number of poetry collections, and curated the People’s Poetry Gathering.

Holman’s most recent CD is In With the Out Crowd (Mouth Almighty/Mercury) with Chris Spedding, Wayne Kramer, and Bobby Neuwirth; his most recent book, A Couple of Ways of Doing Something,is a collection of Praise Poems he wrote to accompany twenty daguerreotypes of artists by Chuck Close. Papa Susso’s most recent CD is Sotuma-Sere, an extraordinary set of classic solo poems accompanied by his kora (the 21-string harp lyre played by West African poets). Papa Susso is currently “griot in residence” at the Bowery Poetry Club and a frequent visitor to Holman’s Columbia course, “Exploding Text: Poetry Performance.”

Holman and Papa Susso will be introduced by James G. Neal, University Librarian and Vice President for Information Services. To attend, please respond to 212-854-4768 or

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

04/04/06 ICL