May 4, 2016

Crafted (Poetry Showcase & Book-Signing), May 1

Crafted is the title of Daniel Summerhill’s new book of poetry (Genesis Press) & this event, held at the Steamer 10 Theater in Albany, NY was a reading to launch the book. Just because “National Poetry Month” is over doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of more poetry readings around, I mean, In Albany, Ever Day is Poetry Month, right?

Daniel also served as a host for a brief reading by 4 female poets, 2 of whom share his first name, such as Daniela Toosie Watson, who performed a poem about her experience as a young girl learning to speak English, “Linguistics of Broken English,” then a piece on confronting anxiety & depression “Love Found Me.”

Daniel introduced Tenesha Smith as an older mentor who, when she left Oakland, CA before him, left behind a scrapbook of poems that was one of his earliest poetic influences. She began with a piece about a friend’s “secret” (her abuse), then a celebratory piece on women’s glory as Eve, complete with an appearance of an “Adam” sending mixed messages; then a piece from her days in Oakland, “A Letter to the Brother at the Corner Store,” with M.C. Graffiti doing sounds.

Amani O performed a couple of motivational-type poems, the first titled “Get Free,” the second with the refrain that we are all made of star dust (or as Tom Nattell said, “Star dust is us”).

D. (Danielle) Colin did a piece in English & Creole for a cousin in Haiti who died, then a self-assertive piece about an answer she wished she had given to someone who had said (& this is the title of the poem) “I Remember You You Are So & So’s Ex-Girl Friend.”

It was their turn, Danielle & Daniela, to introduce Daniel. He began with poems from Crafted, starting with what sounded like his ars poetica “Life Support.” He paid tribute to his hometown with 2 poems, “Grid” & “Oakland,” part description, part commentary on racist violence, then to a piece to his daughter “13 Letters to Genesis.” The short poem “Cliffhanger” is about black mothers fearing for the lives of their sons, while “When We Shall Live” is a hymn to hope. Each time Daniel said “this is my last poem” the audience cried for more.  He turned to his first chapbook, Brown Boys on Stoops (2 Pens & Lint, 2015), for “Ode to Existing (‘Cuz Daddy Said So),” then “Stereotype Unknown,” the wonderfully assertive “Ode to Elijah,” & returned to Crafted for his last poem “Ain’t We Fly” (check it out on YouTube). Daniel Summerhill’s poems are in-your-face with intellect & style, &, well, craft, just like the book says. Oakland’s loss is our gain.

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