Marilyn Nelson returns to the Arts Academy Mystic for their 25th season finale

Poet Marilyn Nelson has never been nominated for the Ol' Jeemy's Cheap Wine Poetry Prize. This is because there is no Ol' Jeemy, and if there were and he in fact made cheap wine, he probably wouldn't have the cultural foresight to offer a poetry prize.

I'll tell you who DOES honor poets, though. That would be the Poetry Foundation, who just announced Connecticut poet Marilyn Nelson is receiving a $100,000 lifetime achievement award.

Along with that honor, Nelson has won or been a finalist for virtually every major poetry prize or award in America, including the National Book Award (three-time finalist), the Poets' Prize (winner), the Frost Prize (winner), and the Coretta Scot King Award (two-time winner). The author of 17 books of poetry for adults and children, Nelson writes with beautifully and vision and about love, family, race, and the obstacle course we call Life.

Nelson was also the guest poet at the inaugural Arts Cafe Mystic event 25 years ago. It's only fitting, then, that at Friday's season finale of the silver anniversary season, Nelson returns to headline. Should be quite a celebration — and of course a presentation of stunning work.

The evening's musical component will be provided by cello/vocal duo Nora Fox and J.Y. Lee, and the Opening Voice poet is Connecticut native Sean Frederick Forbes.

Marilyn Nelson, Arts Cafe Mystic, 7 p.m. Friday, Mystic Museum of Art, 9 Water St., Mystic; $15 door, free for students; (860) 912-2444, www.theartscafemystic.org.

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