April 21, 2016

Split This Rock, 2016 Afternoon Reading, Saturday, April 16

Back to the Grosvenor Auditorium at National Geographic for the afternoon featured reading, Teri Cross Davis of the Split This Rock Advisory Committee the M.C. She began with a tribute to the gone poet Philip Levine with a recording of him reading his poem about standing in a work line recognizing his brother.

Youth poet Henri Lozano recited a moving portrait of his hard-working, old-fashioned grandmother.

Dawn Lundy Martin read from her most recent book Life in a Box is a Pretty Life, then a powerful multi-media piece on racism with a film projected behind her, starting with the image of a near-naked black man putting on red high-heels & dancing in them, images of riots, & the names of murdered black men & women.

Martha Collins read from her new book Admit One: An American Scrapbook, a prodigiously researched book-length poem about the history of scientific racism from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis through the eugenics movement of the 1920s. She read a couple sections, including the one dealing with the story of Ota Benga, an African pygmy “human exhibit,” mixing historical documents with poetry in the tradition of investigative poetry. It was one of the few books I bought at the festival (one has to make choices).

As you would expect from someone who is a 2-time Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion (2012 & 2014), Dominique Christina gave the most strident, if unrelenting, performance. Her poems dealt entirely with racist/misogynist murder & death, such as a poem based on the real-life person that Maya Angelou based one of her characters on, a poem, “Stones,” for murdered girls from Saudi Arabia to here, & the heart-breaking litany “Mothers of Murdered Sons.”

As good as this was, there was another reading to follow later in the evening.

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