A Festival of Big Ideas in Oakland

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Aja Monet reads from her new book of poetry at the Matatu Festival (Photo: Courtesy of Aja Monet)

Matatu is an arts production group in Oakland, led by Michael Orange, focused on big ideas. I love their mission, which encompasses staged events, poetry readings, dance and music, all designed to enhance empathy. This festival, running Nov. 10–12, features a performance by Cuban-Jamaican poet Aja Monet, who also sings a bit. She'll be reading from her newest collection, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.

There's also a discussion on the work of the late Hugo-winning science fiction writer Octavia Butler, featuring panelists Ellen Sebastian Chang and Audrey T. Williams. And Courtney Henry, a member of Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and fellow dancer Adji Cissoko lead a performance, discussion and film screening called Movement as Healing. “We’re sort of approaching it as the body contains memory, pleasure pain, all of these things are stored within, and stored in the cells and the limbs, and the bones, and once you return to that, through movement you can actually heal it from the inside out.” We could all use some of that. Details here.