Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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Durham poet Dasan Ahanu named Harvard fellow





click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF DASAN AHANU

  • Photo courtesy of Dasan Ahanu



For the third time in recent years, Harvard University has selected another leader from the Triangle’s arts and academic community for the school’s hip-hop mission. On Monday, area poet Dasan Ahanu announced he had been chosen as the 2015–2016 recipient of the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship at Harvard. The nine-month fellowship at Harvard’s Hip-Hop Archives Institute and W.E.B Du Bois Research Institute grants scholars and artists an opportunity to prepare an academic year’s worth of research for a project that contributes to “hip-hop and the discourse.”

“I’m going to be studying and analyzing lyricism in hip-hop,” says Ahanu. “I’ll be identifying lyricists and looking at what is distinct about them and their songwriting styles and the types of songs they make.”


Ahanu, or Chris Massenburg, has long been one of the Triangle’s busiest poets. Complementing an already-full schedule as a performer, writer and recording artist, he coaches the award-winning Bull City Slam Team, hosts the weekly City Soul Cafe poetry open mic in Raleigh, teaches a creative writing course at St. Augustine’s University, and unrelatedly, coaches the Blue Star Carolina Girls basketball team.


Although The Hiphop Archive & Research Institute granted fellowships in the past, it wasn’t until July 2013 when the school named the fellowship for legendary lyricist Nasir Jones. Ahanu points to that reason—along with the opportunity to work under one of the world’s most preeminent scholars on African-American history, Henry “Skip” Louis Gates—as to why he wanted the fellowship.


“As someone who lives with words, I was like ‘Aw, man, I would love to be able to contribute to that,’” Ahanau says.


Before the fellowship took its current name, Duke University professor of African-American studies and cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal and Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder were also selected as fellows at The Hip-Hop Archive & Research Institute. Last year, the film The Hip-Hop Fellow , which chronicled 9th Wonder’s tenure at Harvard, made its world premiere at Durham’s annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.


“I really want it to be an inspiration for folks to start to really think about all the different ways in which they can use their talents instead of just having their eyes set on this one narrow path, in terms of commercial success,” Ahanu says. “There are other ways to get out there and do your thing.”




URI to open Spring football practice Wednesday




Provided by the University of Rhode Island Provided by the University of Rhode Island

KINGSTON, R.I. – Year Two under Jim Fleming’s leadership gets underway Wednesday morning when Rhode Island kicks off the spring schedule with a practice on the Bill Beck Field turf. It is the first of 12 practices and two scrimmages leading up to the annual Blue-White Game, which will be played at Meade Stadium Saturday, April 25 at 10 a.m.


The two full-speed scrimmages will be held Friday, April 3 and Friday, April 17, both at 10 a.m. The Rams will have 74 players in for the spring, including five mid-year transfers.


At quarterback, the team returns four players in Mack Lowrie, James Caparell, Kolt Peavey and Sam Ilario. Joining them are mid-year transfers Jordan Vazzano (The Gunnery School) and Brian Dolan (Worcester Academy). Lowrie opened 2014 as the starter before suffering an injury. Caparell stepped in and saw the bulk of the snaps in the second half of the season. Peavey also has time under center and is the primary holder on special teams. Ilario, who originally came in as a defensive back, is more of a running quarterback who has the athleticism to play multiple positions. Joining the mix in the fall will be Isaiah DeSilva (Burrillville), Wesley McKoy (Don Bosco), Paul Mroz (Victor Valley College)


After one season in Kingston, leading rusher Lyle McCombs is gone and preparing for a possible career in the NFL. The key returners at running back are sophomore Harold Cooper, redshirt freshman Markey Clarke and redshirt seniors Robby Delgado and Jordan Sebastian. Cooper, Sebastian and Delgado have all seen significant playing time, and Clarke was in line to as well before suffering a season-ending injury in the second game of the year last fall. A player to watch will be sophomore T.J. Anderson, who came in as a linebacker before switching to play quarterback in wildcat formations last season. Anderson showed the ability to be a hard-nosed runner last season.


All-conference selection Robbie Jackson and Jawaun Wynn have graduated, leaving some spots open on the depth chart. Ross Kim, Phadrae White, Xavier Ferland and Daril Geisser are the most experienced returners in the crop. Newcomers Khayri Denny (Fork Union Military Academy) and Justin Caines (Cerritos College) are mid-year transfers who are seen as potential impact players. D.J. Stewart, who could play receiver or defensive back, will join the team in the fall.


2014 Freshman All-American Charlie McKeeman leads the group of returners in the fullback/tight end group. Though team captain Justin Favreau graduated, this is a deep spot behind McKeeman. Andrew Siden is back after missing the 2014 season with injury, and Ezra Holmes saw significant time as a freshman. Grant Lewis spent the fall redshirting, while Nathan Holmes is back from an injury that cost him most of last season.


Perhaps the deepest position on the team is the offensive line, where the Rams bring back four starters and several others who saw time last season. All-CAA Football left tackle Tyler Catalina heads the group of returning starters that includes Sam Hartmen, Kevin Gallogly and David Steinmetz. Hartmen opened last fall as the team’s center, but an injury forced him to move to right guard. Gallogly stepped in at center, while Steinmetz was the right tackle. Gone is left guard Andrew Kestenbaum, a three-year starter. Dino Boyd played well at both tackle spots in 2014, while John Greenhalgh has experience at guard and tackle. In all, Rhode Island has 12 linemen with at least one year in the program reporting for the spring. Joining the group in the fall will be Dwayne Scott (Archbishop Stepniac) and Alex Ganter).


Moving to the defensive backfield, Rhode Island has 10 players set for the spring. Starting safety Donovan Walker graduated, but safety Tim Wienclaw leads a group rich in experience. Also back are starting corners Abdul Ibrahim and Myles Holmes, nickel Isaiah Hill and Dunston Payne, who saw significant time in multiple spots last season. Senior Rondell Lane and sophomore Shawn Antoine II saw snaps on defense and special teams in the fall. Mid-year transfer Nasir Jones (Fork Union Military Academy) and returners Davidson Barthelmy and Ricky Bailey round out what should be a strong group for the Rams. Coming in the fall will be Ahkema Evans (Coatesville), Power Kanga (Bishop Hendricken) and Stewart.


Gone from the linebacking crew is three-time All-CAA Football selection Andrew Bose, one of the most decorated players in program history. The leaders in the group returning are junior Adam Parker – who had 102 tackles last season – and senior Connor Caponegro. Romeo Masuku was one of the team’s top special teams players last season and could see increased time this year. Redshirt sophomore Derrick Holmes saw increased time on defense and special teams in the second half of 2014, while Anderson also played on the coverage teams. Coming in the fall are Lorenzo Bryant (Hopewell Valley), Justin Hogan (Wayne Hills), Perry Schrader (Frank W. Cox) and Tez Wilson (Hayfield).


Along the defense line, the Rams return several players with significant playing time. Gone are senior Mike Rinadli, who started every game and was a finalist for both the CAA Football Chuck Boone Leadership Award and the league’s Student-Athlete of the Year honor, Robert Howard and Blake Jones. Back are redshirt seniors Selwyn Nicholas, Joe Simon and Greg Doutre, sophomores Marcus Pantoja and Jose Duncan, redshirt sophomore Khilyni Kennedy, junior Anthony St. Laurent and redshirt sophomore Mike Ezirike, who earned a medical redshirt after a season-ending injury early in 2014. All of those players have seen significant playing time for the Rams. Also in the mix are senior Mark Murphy, who had a strong spring last season before suffering a season-ending injury in camp, and Tyrone Barge, originally a member of the 2014 recruiting class who waited a year to enroll. Joining the mix in the fall will be Nate Pauls (Cedar Creek) and Will Wowkanyn (Santa Rosa Junior College).


For the specialists, kicker Dylan Smith and kicker/punter Connor McHugh are back for the Rams. One of the key spots to watch is long-snapper, where Rhode Island must replace Clay Crume, a four-year starters at the spot. Joining the team in the fall are kicker Justin Rohrwasser (Catholic Central) and kicker/punter Leo Vagias (Ramsey, N.J.).


Practices will be open to the public. Tomorrow and Friday’s practices will be held on Beck Field, Rhode Island’s baseball facility.


The 2015 season opens at Syracuse. Rhode Island’s first home game is Saturday, Sept. 19 against Ivy League power Harvard.


Spring Football Schedule (Times subject to change)

Wednesday, March 25: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Friday, March 27: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Saturday, March 28: 10 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Monday, March 30: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Wednesday, April 1: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Friday, April 3: Scrimmage 1: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. (Meade Stadium)

Monday, April 6: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Wednesday, April 8: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Friday, April 10: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Monday, April 13: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Wednesday, April 15: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Friday, April 17: Scrimmage 2: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Monday, April 20: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Wednesday, April 22: 8 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.


BLUE-WHITE GAME

Saturday, April 25 – Meade Stadium – 10 a.m.





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Durham poet Dasan Ahanu named Harvard fellow - The Independent Weekly





click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF DASAN AHANU

  • Photo courtesy of Dasan Ahanu



For the third time in recent years, Harvard University has selected another leader from the Triangle’s arts and academic community for the school’s hip-hop mission. On Monday, area poet Dasan Ahanu announced he had been chosen as the 2015–2016 recipient of the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship at Harvard. The nine-month fellowship at Harvard’s Hip-Hop Archives Institute and W.E.B Du Bois Research Institute grants scholars and artists an opportunity to prepare an academic year’s worth of research for a project that contributes to “hip-hop and the discourse.”

“I’m going to be studying and analyzing lyricism in hip-hop,” says Ahanu. “I’ll be identifying lyricists and looking at what is distinct about them and their songwriting styles and the types of songs they make.”


Ahanu, or Chris Massenburg, has long been one of the Triangle’s busiest poets. Complementing an already-full schedule as a performer, writer and recording artist, he coaches the award-winning Bull City Slam Team, hosts the weekly City Soul Cafe poetry open mic in Raleigh, teaches a creative writing course at St. Augustine’s University, and unrelatedly, coaches the Blue Star Carolina Girls basketball team.


Although The Hiphop Archive & Research Institute granted fellowships in the past, it wasn’t until July 2013 when the school named the fellowship for legendary lyricist Nasir Jones. Ahanu points to that reason—along with the opportunity to work under one of the world’s most preeminent scholars on African-American history, Henry “Skip” Louis Gates—as to why he wanted the fellowship.


“As someone who lives with words, I was like ‘Aw, man, I would love to be able to contribute to that,’” Ahanau says.


Before the fellowship took its current name, Duke University professor of African-American studies and cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal and Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder were also selected as fellows at The Hip-Hop Archive & Research Institute. Last year, the film The Hip-Hop Fellow , which chronicled 9th Wonder’s tenure at Harvard, made its world premiere at Durham’s annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.


“I really want it to be an inspiration for folks to start to really think about all the different ways in which they can use their talents instead of just having their eyes set on this one narrow path, in terms of commercial success,” Ahanu says. “There are other ways to get out there and do your thing.”