Letter to Kwame Alexander

Dear Kwame Alexander, Thank you for making us openly weep last year at the ILA conference when you said, “The mind of an adult begins with the imagination of a child,” and “all kids are the good kids” When we heard you say those words and the room burst into thunderous applause, we knew […]

via An Open Thank You Letter to Kwame Alexander — Nerdy Book Club

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April 12 Poet of the Day: Quincy Troupe

Although it is officially May, I shall continue with the April Poet and Jazz posts.  April 12 Poet of the Day is Quincy Troupe.  Read more about this prolific and fascinating writer below.

quincytroupe

Website: http://www.quincytroupe.com/

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/quincy-troupe

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/quincy-troupe

Books written by Quincy Troupe from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Quincy-Troupe/e/B001ILMAXK

Youtube videos:
“Forty One Seconds”:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2z-MQc6VGc,  “Interview” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIR3eSCLiDw, “Conversation” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTuSJnl_sDY

April 11: Poet of the Day: Sherley Anne Williams

Sherley Anne Williams, poet, author, and social critic, is April 11 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this multitalented poet below.

Sherley_Anne_Williams

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/sherley-anne-williams

Black Past: http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/williams-sherley-anne-1944-1999

Voices From the Gap: http://voices.cla.umn.edu/artistpages/williamsSherley.php

Youtube videos: “Dessa Rose” (novel written by Sherley Anne Williams): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-nQzDMQHp4, “Dessa Rose Trailer”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rTo3Y3J16o

April 10 Poet of the Day: Kevin Young

Kevin Young, born in Lincoln, Nebraska, is April 10 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this award winning poet below.

kevin-young

Website: http://kevinyoungpoetry.com/home.html

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/kevin-young

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/kevin-young

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/03/04/285712680/kevin-young-on-blues-poetry-and-laughing-to-keep-from-crying

PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/poetryeverywhere/young.html

Youtube video: “Blending Music in Poetry”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ7s8xIp7dk

Poem “The Dry Spell”

<!–

–>

The Dry Spell

Kevin Young, 1970
Waking early
with the warming house
my grandmother knew what to do
taking care not to wake
Da Da 		she cooked up a storm
in darkness 	adding silent spices
and hot sauce

to stay cool. She ate later, alone
after the children had been gathered
and made to eat
her red eggs. Da Da rose
late, long after
the roosters had crowed
his name, clearing
an ashy throat
pulling on long
wooly underwear
to make him sweat

even more. The fields have gone
long enough without water
he liked to say, so can I
and when he returned
pounds heavier
from those thirsty fields
he was even cooler
losing each soaked
woolen skin
to the floor, dropping
naked rain in his
wife’s earthen arms.

From The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney. Copyright © 2007 by Kevin Young. Reprinted with permission of the University of Georgia Press.

April 9 Poet of the Day: Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is April 9 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this award winning poet below.

Tracy-K-Smith

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/tracy-k-smithhttp://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/line-between-two-worlds-tracy-k-smith-and-elizabeth-alexander-conversation

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/27/145985904/newspoet-tracy-k-smith-writes-the-day-in-verse

Pulitzer: http://www.pulitzer.org/biography/2012-Poetry

PBS: http://video.pbs.org/video/1929273566/

Youtube video: “Imagining the Universe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW7WIJaSfl4, PEN World Festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGEI9vWOGxs, “The Good Life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUn4DWu7b4U

April 8 Poet of the Day: Melvin B. Tolson

Melvin B. Tolson is April 8 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this poet, debtor, and politician below.

tolson

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/melvin-b-tolson

Modern American Poetry: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/tolson/bio.htm

Black Past.org:  http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/tolson-melvin-b-1898-1966

NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17570617

Youtube videos: “Dark Symphony” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHD0cpFAMpM, “An Ex-Judge at the Bar” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAxGibPGtPc

A Song for Myself

By Melvin B. Tolson

                                                   I judge
                                               My soul
                                               Eagle
                                               Nor mole:
                                               A man
                                               Is what
                                               He saves
                                               From rot.
                                               The corn
                                               Will fat
                                               A hog
                                               Or rat:
                                               Are these
                                               Dry bones
                                               A hut’s
                                               Or throne’s?
                                               Who filled
                                               The moat
                                               ’Twixt sheep
                                               And goat?
                                               Let Death,
                                               The twin
                                               of Life,
                                               Slip in?
                                               Prophets
                                               Arise,
                                               Mask-hid,
                                               Unwise,
                                               Divide
                                               The earth
                                               By class
                                               and birth.
                                               Caesars
                                               Without,
                                               The People
                                               Shall rout;
                                               Caesars
                                               Within,
                                               Crush flat
                                               As tin.
                                               Who makes
                                               A noose
                                               Envies
                                               The goose.
                                               Who digs
                                               A pit
                                               Dices
                                               For it.
                                               Shall tears
                                               Be shed
                                               For those
                                               Whose bread
                                               Is thieved
                                               Headlong?
                                               Tears right
                                               No wrong.
                                               Prophets
                                               Shall teach
                                               The meek
                                               To reach.
                                               Leave not
                                               To God
                                               The boot
                                               And rod.
                                               The straight
                                               Lines curve?
                                               Failure
                                               Of nerve?
                                               Blind-spots
                                               Assail?
                                               Times have
                                               Their Braille.
                                               If hue
                                               Of skin
                                               Trademark
                                               A sin,
                                               Blame not
                                               The make
                                               For God’s
                                               Mistake.
                                               Since flesh
                                               And bone
                                               Turn dust
                                               And stone,
                                               With life
                                               So brief,
                                               Why add
                                               To grief?
                                               I sift
                                               The chaff
                                               From wheat
                                               and laugh.
                                               No curse
                                               Can stop
                                               The tick
                                               Of clock.
                                               Those who
                                               Wall in
                                               Themselves
                                               And grin
                                               Commit
                                               Incest
                                               And spawn
                                               A pest.
                                               What’s writ
                                               In vice
                                               Is writ
                                               In ice.
                                               The truth
                                               Is not
                                               Of fruits
                                               That rot.
                                               A sponge,
                                               The mind
                                               Soaks in
                                               The kind
                                               Of stuff
                                               That fate’s
                                               Milieu
                                               Dictates.
                                               Jesus,
                                               Mozart,
                                               Shakespeare,
                                               Descartes,
                                               Lenin,
                                               Chladni,
                                               Have lodged
                                               With me.
                                               I snatch
                                               From hooks
                                               The meat
                                               Of books.
                                               I seek
                                               Frontiers,
                                               Not worlds
                                               On biers.
                                               The snake
                                               Entoils
                                               The pig
                                               With coils.
                                               The pig’s
                                               Skewed wail
                                               Does not
                                               Prevail.
                                               Old men
                                               Grow worse
                                               With prayer
                                               Or curse:
                                               Their staffs
                                               Thwack youth
                                               Starved thin
                                               For truth.
                                               Today
                                               The Few
                                               Yield poets
                                               Their due;
                                               Tomorrow
                                               The Mass
                                               Judgment
                                               Shall pass.
                                               I harbor
                                               One fear
                                               If death
                                               Crouch near:
                                               Does my
                                               Creed span
                                               The Gulf
                                               Of Man?
                                               And when
                                               I go
                                               In calm
                                               Or blow
                                               From mice
                                               And men,
                                               Selah!
                                               What . . . then?

Melvin Tolson, “A Song for Myself” from Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1999)

Source: “Harlem Gallery” and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson (University Press of Virginia, 1999)

April 7 Poet of the Day: Rita Dove

US Poet Laureate Rita Dove is April 7 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this talented poet below.

rita dove 2010

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/rita-dove

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/rita-dove

Academy of Achievement: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/dov0bio-1

Poetry Archive: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/rita-dove

Biography: http://www.biography.com/people/rita-dove-9278390

Library of Congress Web Guides: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/dove/

Poem:

Vacation

Rita Dove, 1952
I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.

Reprinted from On the Wing, published by the University of Iowa Press.

Youtube videos: White House Poetry Evening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIT82Oy9U1Y, “Thomas and Beulah”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7duHFUjieME, Big Think Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwdMXj2p1TQ

April 6 Poet of the Day: James Emanuel

James Emanuel is April 6 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this poet, scholar, and activist below.

jamesemanuel

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/james-a-emanuel#poet

African American Registry: http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/james-emanuel-poet-afar

Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3431200023.html

WingedWord Blog Post Interview: https://wingedword.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/an-interview-with-james-a-emanuel/

Dan Schneider Interview 5: James Emanuel: http://www.cosmoetica.com/DSI5.htm, Omniversica #2: James Emanuel Poet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjUP53j0d-U

Youtube videos: Joseph Langley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWHWm3iiFZQ, James Emanuel reading his poem “Emmett Till”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnZFPSPugNk, reads three poems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Q3g5vNTQw

Poems from AfroPoets:

” I’m A Jazz Singer, ” She Replied
He dug what she said:
bright jellies, smooth marmalade
spread on warm brown bread.

“Jazz” from drowsy lips
orchids lift to honeybees
floating on long sips.
“Jazz”: quick fingerpops
pancake on a griddle-top
of memories. Stop.
“Jazz”: mysterious
as nutmeg, missing fingers,
gold, Less serious.
“Jazz”: cool bannister.
Don’t need no stair. Ways to climb
when the sax is there.

Written by James Emanuel