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Spoken Word & Music Series

  • Featured musicians, poets and writers
  • The series features three fall and three spring events from 6:30-9:00 p.m.
  • Free and open to the public
  • Sponsored by the MCC Foundation Annual Fund Campaign
  • Hosted by Stephen Campiglio

Note: All Mishi-maya-gat events are held at MCC on Main, Manchester Community College’s new Arts and Education Center at 903 Main Street.


Mishi-maya-gat is the Algonquian term for “Great Trail System,” a network of foot paths created by the native tribes of Connecticut. Within this system of trails, a “Great Path” connected one region with another. The site of the MCC campus is along one of these great paths and, thus, the naming of Great Path as the street leading to campus. It is in this spirit of historical and cultural significance that the arts series takes its name.

Thursday, March 19
Please note: new start time: 6:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m. – Poets Kate Rushin and Jonathan Gillman

Kate Rushin

Kate Rushin

Kate Rushin is the author of The Black Back-Ups (Firebrand Books: 1993), based, in part, in her experiences growing up in a working-class, African American town in South Jersey. Kate received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Brown University, and has taught poetry writing workshops and African American Literature courses at MIT, UMASS-Boston, and Wesleyan University. She has led workshops for The Hill Stead Museum, Connecticut Humanities, and the Hartford Public Library; received fellowships from The Artists Foundation, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Cave Canem Foundation; and held residencies at AS220 in Providence, RI and Westfield State University. Her work appears in The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Sister/Citizen (edited by Melissa Harris-Perry), and This Bridge Called My Back (4th edition, forthcoming, SUNY Press). She has been featured at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and on National Public Radio, and serves on The Connecticut Poetry Circuit and The James Merrill House Committee. For her Mishi-maya-gat presentation, Kate will be reading poetry inspired by artists, art and music. You can hear her read “My Lord, What A Morning,” in honor of the contralto, Marion Anderson, for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas: For more information on the poet, please visit:

Jonathan Gillman

Jonathan Gillman

Jonathan Gillman is the head of the theater department at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, a public magnet high school, and the Director of Looking In Theatre, a “teen interactive social issue” theater group. In addition to poetry, he also writes fiction, non-fiction, plays, and children’s stories. His stories have appeared in Grasslands (Rutgers University Press: 1993) and The Magic Ring (Creative Arts Books: 2001). In 2013, Antrim House Books published his collection of poems, My Father, Humming, which has one WordBasket’s “Best of 2013” titles; received a “Starred Review” from Kirkus Review, and was named a 2014 “Indie Book of the Year.” My Father, Humming was also one of six finalists for the Paterson Poetry Prize, with another finalist being Charles Simic and the winner, Billy Collins. Finalists and the winner will read together at an awards ceremony on May 2015. For more information on the poet, please visit:

7:30 p.m. – Jazz with Dave Palla Trio, featuring Dave Palla, guitar; Paul Fuller, bass; and Damian Curtis, piano


Dave Palla is a self-taught musician who began playing drums before guitar, when he started studying with the great Bob Kobus, with whom one-hour lessons often turned into six-hour jam sessions. After years of playing solo and duo shows throughout CT with the likes of Joe Fonda, Mike Asetta, and Donn Doucette, he then took a 25-year hiatus from playing music before returning to the scene in 2004 to form The Dave Palla Trio (find clips on YouTube). He has appeared at the Bushnell Park’s jazz festivals, as well as many other regional venues over the last 10 years.

Damian Curtis (substituting for Dan Scheer) came up through the jazz ranks and Musica Hispanica studying at the Jackie McLean Artists Collective, Ray Gonzalez’s Guakia, the Litchfield Jazz Camp, and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. While attending the Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, Damian was the leader of a quintet that won the Best College Jazz Quintet, a national award. He graduated from University of Hartford in the early 2000’s. Since then, he has done nationally acclaimed work with Insight, a collaboration with his brothers and other musicians, Orquesta Espada, Ed Byrne, Steve Davis, and Nat Reeves, as well as his own projects.

Paul Fuller studied music at MCC in the mid-1970’s with Dr. Charles Gigliotti and returned to the jazz scene in 2003 as a local jazz promoter, producing shows several area music venues around central Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts. This return led to his teaming up with Dave Palla and his trio, along with Dan Scheer, on piano. Having the opportunity to sit in with such luminaries as Steve Davis, Valery Ponomarev, Kelly Shepherd, Damian Curtis, Warren Byrd, Sinan Bakir, Kenny Reed, Norman Gage, and many others has surely helped him on his journey. Paul appeared at the GHFJ Bushnell Park 2007 and 2008 as the Paul Fuller Group (visit:

Upcoming Events

April 16

6:30 p.m. – Vocal and instrumental performances by the MCC Music Club
7:30 p.m. - Christopher Merrill. Author of 6 collections of poetry and 5 works of nonfiction and Director of the International Writing Program at University of Iowa;

May 21

6:30 p.m. – Jazz set with The Mike Casey/Corey Garcia Duo, featuring Mike Casey, saxophone; and Corey Garcia, drums.
7:30 p.m. – Afaa Michael Weaver. Author of 14 collections of poetry and winner of the 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award.