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Heights Arts Says Goodbye To Cleveland Heights’ 9th Poet Laureate, Damien McClendon

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As Heights Arts welcomes Ray McNiece as Cleveland Heights’ 10th Poet Laureate, we say “well done” to our most recent wordsmith extraordinaire, Damien McClendon. A modern-day griot, Damien is known across the city – and nation – for his ability to illustrate the highs and lows of this country’s most marginalized communities through poetry. During his tenure as Heights Arts’ 2018-2020 Poet Laureate, Damien expanded the pool of poets who participated in Heights Arts’ Ekphrastcy – Artists Talk and Poets Respond series – an extremely popular evening featuring poets performing their commissioned poetry live in response to exhibited works. He was instrumental in affirming the power that arts has in bringing seemingly disparate communities together to share space and meaningful conversations. He also engaged with youth in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland by providing poetry workshops in after school programs.

We are disappointed that we were not able to celebrate Damien’s tenure with a previously planned farewell reading in collaboration with the Cleveland Heights Library in April. However, as we navigate the pandemic in this our 20th year, we know that creatively connecting artists with an even greater number of community members will continue to be a fundamental goal. To that end, we hope to be able to say goodbye either in person or online in the future. We are grateful for Damien’s contributions in strengthening our ability to enrich community life by tapping into the potential of our creative residents.

The Board and Staff of Heights Arts wish Damien all the best in his future endeavors. It’s been a pleasure working with him over these past two years and we look forward to even more collaborations in the future.


Heights Arts’ Board of Directors

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