Today for Poetry Friday, I'm celebrating the wonderful contributions people of color have brought to our culture.
Stop over at Karen Edmiston's blog for oodles of poetic words as she hosts the round up.
I have loved reading, yet again, Marilyn Nelson's Carver: A Life in Poems. I think he is on my list of people I'd like to sit down with in heaven and have a long conversation.
From Nelson's poem, "Veil-Raisers," on the relationship between Carver and Booker T. Washington.
You saw them sometimes
if you were sneaking in past curfew,
after a tête-à-tête on a town girls porch:
shoulder to shoulder
and dream to dream,
Walking our people
One of the books in my stack from the library is The Great Migration: Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.
Greenfield was only three months old when her father took a train north looking for a better life. Like so many other black families, the Greenfield and her mother and siblings followed when he had found a job and a place to live.
I love the way Greenfield has organized this book. In the first section, mask poems express the hopes and fears of individuals caught up in the great migration. In my favorite page spread, illustrator Jan Gilchrist, uses a photograph of a real child's face in her striking illustrations.
The middle section tells the story of the journey by rail in narrative poetry. As the end of the journey and the end of the book near, part four asks the question in every mind.
from "IV. Question"
Will I make a good life
for my family,
The wheels are singing,
"Yes, you will,
you will, you will!"
Greenfield ends the collection with a free verse narrative poem about her story, her family: "We were one family/ among the many thousands."
A beautiful book, published in 2011, by Amistad (Harper Collins imprint).
This is a poem I wrote, a sort of tribute to Joyce, a sweet African American friend I made in Chautauqua, 2007, who tried her best to teach me to dance!
images rock step, cha-cha-cha
words heel click and slide
heartbeats ball change in my chest
light moonwalks behind my eyes
it isn’t the hips gyrating
a pirouette on pointed toes
it isn’t in my feet
the way Joyce can jive and sway
it isn’t from the knees
when I dance
© Doraine Bennett
And finally this. These girls are the Divine Praise Dancers of Los Angeles. I just love the freedom!