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Literary Cafè at CFI presents excerpt from the play Freedom Seeker Stories (as recorded by William Still, founder of the Underground Railroad) starring Mary Craig, Annette Daniels Taylor, and Verneice Turner, with narrator Celeste Lawson.

An excerpt from the play Freedom Seeker Stories (as recorded by William Still, founder of the Underground Railroad) starring Mary Craig, Annette Daniels Taylor, and Verneice Turner, with narrator Celeste Lawson. This excerpt is a shortened program of the full play mounted this past summer at Whirlpool Park in Niagara Falls, NY.

Verneice Turner is a performance artist, and an Artie award-winning actor, She  studied drama under June L. Saunders-Duel at the African American Cultural Center, then studied  performing arts at SUNY at Buffalo. She has worked with directors Saul Elkin, Richard Gant, Lorna C. Hill, and others. She is also a poet, singer, dancer, and the former reading series host at the Screening Room. She ran the art space Buffalo East from 2009-13  She has performed in various venues in Buffalo, New York City (off off & off-Broadway), Washington DC, Philly, Toronto, and other cities In 2008 Verneice won an Artie for outstanding supporting actress in Studio Arena and Road Less Traveled’s production of To Kill A Mockingbird. She was also nominated for best spoken word artist in Artvoice‘s 2008 Best of Buffalo awards.

Mary Craig After receiving her BS in Political Science and BA in Communication Arts and Sciences from Dominican University in Illinois, she then taught theater and playwriting classes at Buffalo State College. She worked as Officer of Marketing at Goldome Savings Bank, then at Key Bank, where she was Vice President of Consumer Communications. She left the banking world and became the Executive Director of the Humboldt Branch YMCA. In the realm of theater, Ms. Craig won the Artie awards for Best Actress in a Musical for her work in Cookin’ at the Cookery and for her work in Sophisticated Ladies. She is the co-author of a play about the comediennes Pearl Bailey and Moms Mabley (entitled What Good Ole Days?) which premiered in 2005. She also performs as Mary Talbert on the Forest Lawn American Historical Tour in conjunction with the African American Historical Society.

Annette Daniels Taylor is an award-winning theater artist, poet, and artist-filmmaker. The author of the children’s series  Marvella Finds Her Magic, her novels in verse, Shoot the Storm, and Dreams on Fire. As a filmmaker Annette’s cinematic poems are screened and exhibited internationally. Her poems are featured in The UB Poetry Collection Three Poems chapbook series. Her chapbooks include Street Pharmacist and other poetic tales; and Hush now, poems to read aloud. Annette teaches Writing for Broadcast at SUNY Buffalo State College Communication Department and Acting with D’Youville University’s Dramatic Theater Arts MFA program and is a recipient of the Creatives Rebuild New York Artist Employee Program.

Celeste Lawson graduated from high school in Germany, and from Stratton College in England. She was the project creator, manager, producer, writer, and co-artistic director, of Typography of Women for the which she received a 2019 MAP grant award. She has served in a range of professional and volunteer capacities including as executive of a nonprofit arts organizations, and as a working artist in the creative community. She was a columnist for Artvoice, and also wrote a weekly arts column for After 50. Lawson did a long-running show on thinktwiceradio called Bits, Bites, and Buzz. Her poetry has appeared in A Celebration of Western New York Poets (Buffalo Legacy, 2015), The Buffalo News, Earth’s Daughters, and elsewhere. She was one of the poet performers in Jazz Impressions: 1968, the music and poetry series from the Buffalo Jazz Composers Workshop in 2018.


Wednesday, June 7, 2023


7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


Center for Inquiry (Library)
1310 Sweet Home Rd., Amherst, NY


ryki zuckerman
poetry reading
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