Five years into its publication, local journal aaduna is already celebrating a renaissance.
More specifically, it's celebrating "In the Spirit of the Harlem Renaissance ... Revisited, 2015," its second fundraiser themed after the early-20th-century movement, Thursday in Theater Mack.
Aaduna publisher and CEO Bill Berry Jr. patterned the event after the Harlem Renaissance because it marked a time when writers like Langston Hughes and musicians like Billie Holiday interacted with the public in the Manhattan neighborhood. Seeking the same atmosphere, he selected the Cayuga Museum's cabaret-style venue to host the event because it's the closest Auburn has to the jazz club ambiance where those Harlem Renaissance interactions often took place, he said.
The aaduna event will feature two blocks of readings by poets from the Auburn and New York City areas. Last year, the journal hosted events at both sites, including a house of 100-plus at Theater Mack. This year, it couldn't afford to venture downstate again, Berry said.
In between the readings by Cayuga Community College professor Howard Nelson, "What Fragrance Is the Moon?" author Heidi Nightengale, Brooklyn poet Cyd Charisse Fulton and more will be a longer intermission than at last year's fundraiser — to give the audience more time to talk with the artists, Berry said. Local pianist Andy Rudy will provide the evening's soundtrack.
"We're after a very family-oriented ambiance," Berry said. "A party within a party."
Proceeds from the event support aaduna, which was first published in 2011 by Berry, a Bronx native and former higher education official at Cayuga Community College and elsewhere.
The journal — its name means "world" in Wolof, a west African language — has been publishing three times a year. Berry prides himself on its pluralism: It has published art, literature and other work by teens and septuagenarians, black and white, male, female and transgender. Its contributors have come from the United States, Pakistan, Africa and Hong Kong, among other countries.
"We wanted to be global with it," he said. "At some point it'd be great if we could do the journal in more than one language."
Berry hopes to take aaduna in two future directions with the momentum generated by the Thursday event.
The first is to establish a physical space for a residency program that brings artists to the Finger Lakes area to work in its serene environs, Berry said. The second is to improve literacy among the local high school population — a goal aaduna is already working toward by arranging for contributor Raymond Nat Turner to lead a workshop session at Auburn High the same day as "In the Spirit of the Harlem Renaissance ... Revisited, 2015."