Kent Foreman is a veteran actor, performance poet, lyricist and occasional screenwriter whose poetry has been featured in two professional stage productions directed by his mentor, Oscar Brown Jr. He has toured as a jazz poet with Max Roach, and performed with Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, and Allen Ginsberg among others. He has won Chicago Historical Society's esteemed Carl Sandburg Award, and is an acknowledged slam champion from Chicago, having appeared on the 1998 Bellwood (Illinois) team, and the 2000 Green Mill team.
Foreman is an interesting bridge between generations, having studied with the prodigy of the Beat and Be-bop generations and endured to become a mentor and co-performer with slam and neo-slam poets of Chicago, such as Nina Corwin, Chuck Perkins, and Reggie Gibson. Being such an artist and teacher, his work has entered the ad hoc canon of Chicago's performance poets, while keeping the respect of the academy, too. It's not unusual to see or hear Foreman as a featured artist at any of a dozen different venues throughout the year.
Foreman's contemporary work unblinkingly explores negritude in his persona of "the Gravedigger," the archetypal black man hired to do what no one else will tolerate. The Gravedigger's meditations often range well beyond his immediate physical world, into the metaphysical and spiritual. In doing so, Foreman shares the fears and hopes of generations of Africans in America; the Gravedigger becomes a kind of everyman, transcendent of race and time as he expresses his placelessness throughout history, but distinctly signifying the African experience in the United States.
The following audio pieces were recorded at Foreman's featured reading at Café Aloha, February 2000:
These clips were recorded at the Chicago Public Library on 7 April 2001, for an e-poets network co-production with Farrago Poetry, London:
Additional performances by Kent Foreman, recorded in September 2000 at the Woodlawn Tap (Hyde Park), are in the e-poets network Videotheque.