Sunday, February 06, 2011

Officially an Adult (smile)

Saturday, February 5, 2011, the African American Celebration through Poetry made 21. I am certainly going to enjoy the wonderful memories I have of an afternoon filled with warmth and love and positivity. From Mama Geri Abrams libation to the ancestors to the Lewis Jordan, Raymond Nat Turner, Henry Mobley Jazz and Poetry Trio, closing with Mama Ayanna freestyle during open mic, not to mention a poem duet featuring my granddaughter Brianna and her uncle, Maurice, the afternoon was filled with the W-O-R-D.

Reflections on the theme of healing and reciprocity, restorative justice and stopping the violence—both internal and external. Poets Sharron Williams Gelobter, whose poetry of place and history, gender and class echoed as she spoke of wells where even when dry quench our collective insatiable thirst for hope. Raymond Nat Turner shared poetry about his late mother, while Lewis Jordan smiled lyrically as he recalled poet QR Hand on his baritone sax. Steve McCutchen spoke about violence prevention as he spoke of the lessons he learned as a youth, especially those he didn’t learn easily:

“I am a black man/ Son of Pat and John/ Oldest of my generation clan—/ It wasn’t happenstance that allowed me to see this day/ or a labyrinth of circumstance that shapes what I say—how grown stomp down ridge-runnin stump jumpin/ common sense and get down learning have been there to guide the way. . . .”

It was great looking out into the audience and seeing my friends: Drs. Vera and Wade Nobles, as well as Tiyesha Meroe, Akosua, Gene Howell Jr., and others who have supported the event over the years.

Douglas Coleman took us on a walk around the sights and sounds of the jewel, Lake Merritt as he closed his set with a short poem about being human. Paradise shared 2nd Emancipation part 1. It was a wonderful poem that promoted serious reflection on concepts formally more closely scrutinized. Paradise closed with “They love everything about you, but you.”

Aquiela Lewis shared loved poems and told us about an uncensored erotic poetry series she hosts—you should see the flier poster! Well we wondered how explicit she was going to get considering the title of the last piece considering the youngsters in the audience: Psalm of Psalms (smile).

Poets Jazz Hudson and Tiara Phalon were a hit as the program drew to a close with Mama Ayanna reflecting on her son, Katari’s killing. In it she speaks of generational maladies we can change if we start now by changing the thinking we associate with self—personal and communal.

Berkeley has declared 2011 The Year of the Black Man, one of our guests, Daryl Williams, who shared a few lovely poems himself, stated.

There were a lot of competing events the first Saturday in Black History Month such as one up the street at the African American Museum and Library celebrating Mary Ellen Pleasant. One of my colleagues from Peralta College District stopped by the library afterward with her daughter and grand-kids. She said the program was great and when she saw the flier they came by West Oakland Branch Library, only to find the event concluded. We had lovely quilts decorating the hall that afternoon, courtesy of artist, Julia Vitero. They were all quite striking. One had images of President Obama and another we a series of dancing figure images –blues on blues. There is an African American Quilters Workshop for this month at West Oakland Branch. Call (510) 238-7352.


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