The late Indianapolis poet Mari Evans was a key figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Her poems about love, loss and being black in America were popular worldwide. Here’s a look. Dwight Adams/IndyStar
A large gathering, including some noted Black American writers, is expected for the funeral of famed Indianapolis poet Mari Evans.
Evans, a prominent member of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and ’70s, died March 10 at the age of 93.
Calling will be from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Stuart Mortuary at 2201 N. Illinois St.
The funeral, which will be open to the public, will be at 1 p.m. Monday at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 100 W. 86th St. The church seats 1,500, and “hundreds are expected” for her funeral, said Evans’ grandson, Chris Phemster, who is making the arrangements.
Some of Evans’ friends and contemporaries, including poets Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez, also will be speaking at her funeral, Phemster said.
“We have a lot of people flying in,” he said. “A lot of the big writers are coming.”
Phemster said his grandmother was a fan of the Indiana Avenue jazz scene of the 1940s and ’50s and known for her skill at playing jazz on the piano. Video of her playing the piano will be shown at the funeral.
Phemster’s daughter, Nevaeh, was born on the same day as her grandmother: July 16. And his son, Matthew, who plays in the jazz band at Lawrence North High School, will perform “Amazing Grace,” one of Evans’ favorite songs, on the saxophone at her funeral.
Evans, who had lived in Indianapolis since 1947, was known worldwide for her poems on love, loss and being black in America, including “Celebration,” “If There be Sorrow,” “Speak the Truth to the People,” “To Be Born Black,” and “I Am a Black Woman.”
She also wrote plays, essays and juvenile fiction, including a book on teenage pregnancy.
In 2016, a 30-foot-high mural of her by artist Michael “Alkemi” Jordan was unveiled on Mass Ave. in Downtown Indianapolis.
Call IndyStar digital producer Dwight Adams at (317) 444-6532. Follow him on Twitter: @hdwightadams.
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