Poet Ray McNiece to Present Performance at Mount Union College
April 1, 2003
Performance poet, actor and singer Ray McNiece will bring his talent to the Mount Union College campus for two events beginning Monday, April 7 as the MC for a poetry slam at 9 p.m in the Campus Grounds, located in the Hoover-Price Campus Center, and will return Tuesday, April 8 for a performance in Presser Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m.
McNiece has earned a national reputation as a poet and performer for almost two decades through his solo theater pieces, his poetry and music shows, his captaining of two National Poetry Slam championship teams, his children's shows and workshops, and his yearly country-wide tours of performance poems, stories and songs.
The Orlando Sentinel calls McNiece "a modern-day descendent of Woody Guthrie. He has a way with words and a wry sense of humor." In a review of his second solo theatre piece, "US -- Talking Across America," The Star-Phoenix said, "His thoughtful writing combines with perfectly timed delivery to create a powerful wordscape that owes as much to jazz as drama."
Highlights of his tours include a keynote address with Robert Bly at the First Coast Writer's Conference, a featured reading at the opening of City Lights Italia in Florence with Beat poet and editor Lawrence Ferlinghetti and a performance with his band, Tongue-in-Groove, at the Starwood Festival, opening for legendary African drummer Babatunde Oluntunje. In the summer of 2000 he toured Italy with Anne Waldman, John Giorno and Ed Sanders as part of the City Lights Italia Festival. In the summer of 2001, he performed in Moscow, at the Polytech, the Russian poets Hall of Fame, and in Zima Junction, Siberia, with Yevgeny Yevtushenko. While there he performed on "Good Morning Russia."
McNiece is the author of three books, two solo theatre works, two music/poetry shows and several theatrical collaborations. He was the 1999 Grand Slam Champion of the Arkansas Celebration of the Arts, the largest performance poetry prize ever awarded. He received the 1999 Award of Excellence for his writing from Northern Ohio Live and won the 1999 Lyricist Review Song contest. He chaired a panel on performance poetry for the 2000 National Folk Alliance Conference. He was an honored writer for the 1998 and 2000 Writers and Friends Celebration sponsored by the Poets' League of Cleveland. He was awarded an artist residency at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 2001, and at the Kerouac House in Orlando in 2002. His song, "I Can See the City," was featured in the WVIZ documentary, "Faces of Steel," aired in 2002.
McNiece is also an accomplished actor. He has performed in "Flanigan's Wake," an improv comedy, at Playhouse Square from 1995 through 2002. He was featured in "Crossroads Dancing," an Irish-American drama, at Dobama Theatre in the winter of 2000. He played the lead, Bill Blahonie, in Michael Salinger's play "Baby Prints" at Cleveland Public Theatre in February 2001. He played the Steelworker Chorus Leader in Ensemble Theater's "Steelbound" and directed the Days of Steel Folk Concert in 2001. He was the voice of Woody Guthrie for National Public Radio's Documentary "Hard Traveling" which has aired every Labor Day since it premiered in 1999.
For more information concerning the poetry slam and performance, please contact Frank Tascone, instructor of English at Mount Union, at 330-829-8216 or email Tasconf@MUC.edu.