- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sekou Sundiata, 58, professor, poet

NEW YORK (AP) — Sekou Sundiata, a Grammy-nominated poet whose work blurred the barriers between music, theater and literature, died July 18. He was 58.

The New York professor died of heart failure at Westchester Medical Center, said family spokeswoman April Silver.

Mr. Sundiata performed his work on HBO’s “DEF Poetry Jam” and in a national tour with singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, who says on her Web site that the writer “taught me everything I know about poetry.” His first recording, “The Blue Oneness of Dreams,” earned a Grammy nomination.

More recently, Mr. Sundiata had performed his work around the country, touring the one-man theatrical piece “blessing the boats,” which detailed his battle with kidney failure.

“The 51st (dream) State,” which explored the state of America following the September 11 terrorist attacks, was performed at Brooklyn Academy of Music in November.

Mr. Sundiata, a professor at the New School university, was born in Harlem, N.Y., as Robert Franklin Feaster. He changed his name in the late 1960s. His work has also appeared on the Bill Moyers PBS series “The Language of Life.”

Mr. Sundiata attended City College of New York and went on to complete a master’s degree in creative writing. He later helped establish the school’s first black student newspaper. In 1977, Mr. Sundiata, along with other poets, formed the Calabash Poets Workshop.

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