CSULA Department of English | Events

The multi-talented Afro-Canadian poet-performer-songwriter-filmmaker Vanessa Richards will be the next visiting artist at CSULA. She will be giving two presentations, scheduled for the evenings of Tuesday, January 20 and Wednesday, January 21. On January 20 at 6:30pm, she will present "The Potluck of Possibilities" in Engineering and Technology A126. On Wednesday, January 21 at 6:30pm, she will participate in "Northern Witness: An Evening of 

Image of Vanessa Richards

photo credit: Shannon Pawliw

Poetry and Songs with Vanessa Richards" to be held in the Los Angeles Room (308A) of the University Student Union.

Vanessa Richards, born in Vancouver, is an interdisciplinary artist with a foundation in writing, music, live art, theatre, and collaboration. Her interests include participatory process, leading edge practices in community-based arts and the role of the arts and artists in urban regeneration. She was actively engaged in developing policy and platforms for Canada’s largest civic party, Vision Vancouver in their November 2008 landslide civic victory.

While resident in London from 1992 to 2004, she was Founder and Artistic Director of performing arts company Mannafest. There her work toured premier clubs, concert halls and galleries including The Jazz Café, Tate Modern, and South Bank Centre. She also designed and delivered socially-engaged projects with and for The UK Design Council, The Live Art Development Agency, London Education Authority and HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

Since returning home to Vancouver she has worked with and for Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver International Writers Festival, Hollyhock Leadership Institute and CBC-ZeD TV. As Artist-in-Residence at Public Dreams Society in 2005-2006, she conceptualized and developed Mountain Mardi Gras, the first intercultural winter carnival project in North Vancouver.

In 2007 Richards was nominated for a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award and in April/May 2008 she appeared in The Violet Hour by Richard Greenberg at the Belfry Theatre, Victoria.

She sings in a quartet called Radiant Sound. They make spare and luminous interpretations of mid-century and modern song. She is an active member of the Robson Park Community Garden and Chair of the Working Arts Society.

She earned an MPhil in Creative Writing from Cardiff University, UK. Her poetry and critical works are anthologized internationally in anthologies including Velocity: The Best of Apples and Snakes (Black Spring Press/Arts Council Of England), Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature (Arsenal Press, Canada), Guerrilla Performance and Multimedia (Continuum, London), Step Into A World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature (John Wiley and Sons, U.S.A.), The Fire People: an Anthology of Contemporary Black British Poetry (Canongate), Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry (The Women’s Press, London), IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (Hamish Hamilton, London), 360*: A Revolution in Black Poets (Alexander Press, USA) and West Coast Lines: New African Canadian Writing , (Simon Fraser University, Canada). Her current writing is available online at



For more information, call the Cal State L.A. English Department at (323) 343-4140.

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Vanessa Richard's visit is made possible by the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, the Department of English, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Vanessa Richards at CSULA

Tuesday, January 20, 6:30pm Location: E&T A126
"The Potluck of Possibilities"

Wednesday, January 21, 6:30pm
Location: Los Angeles Room (308A), University Student Union (map)

Northern Witness: An Evening of Poetry and Song with Vanessa Richards