Poet, author, professor  Burness speaks at D.C. event

Don Burness of Rindge, former professor at Franklin Pierce University, was invited to be a tribute speaker at a memorial service celebrating the life of Nigerian novelist and social critic Chinua Achebe (1930-2013).

The event was held at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., June 2. Burness wrote a poem for the occasion.

President and Michelle Obama sent a message. Other participants included Johnnetta Cole, director of the Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., Ruth Simmons, former president of Smith College and Brown University, poets Sonia Sanchez and Micere Mugo, and Scott Moyers, president and publisher of Penguin Press.

Burness was one of the early teachers of African literature in the United States, teaching his first course in 1969. Achebe was awarded an honorary doctorate and as commencement speaker at Franklin Pierce in 1985. His novel “Things Fall Apart,” (1958) became a classic of world literature.

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