Poetry and Media #019

Filed under: Poetry and Media |

Shirley LeFlore was the second-ever poet laureate of St. Louis. She got her start as a member of Black Artists' Group, an interdisciplinary collective of St. Louis musicians, dancers, actors, and writers. BAG is the subject of The Black Artists' Group: Creation Equals Movement, a documentary streaming through November 22nd as part of this year's virtual edition of the St. Louis Film Festival. The film tracks BAG's rise and fall, exploring the feeling of revolutionary potential that informed Black art in the late 1960s. The film also documents acts of authoritarian repression perpetrated by the United States government against Black artists and activists. "A lot of us was subject to get arrested," LeFlore says in the film. "Because we were going to rallies and meetings dealing with the Black Power movement." Social cocerns remained a focus of LeFlore's poetry for the rest of her life. A recording of LeFlore performing a persona poem written in the wake of Trayvon Martin's murder and George Zimmerman's acquittal is currently up on the NuArtMetroGallery YouTube page. LeFlore writes:

Bullets melted into my chest and sucked my breath away
Warn the young ones, the Z-man is out there
Stalking like hell hounds on the hills
And carries a free-to-kill card, stamped by the police
Standing on a ground of lies and white supremacy
No guilt. No Shame. Warn them! Warn them children!
Warn them they can die for skittles and tea
For a walk on the street, standing in their own yard
For a toy, run over shoes, oh ya, you can get killed for just being
Click here to watch LeFlore's performance. "When you take to the arts to promote political ideas, you're touching," LeFlore said in The Black Artists' Group: Creation Equals Movement. "Somebody's gonna feel something. You're touching the peoples. You're touching the consciousness. You're touching the tears and the laughter. All those elements about being human. The arts can do that." Click here to stream the film. If you want to learn more about BAG, a 2017 interview with LeFlore featured in Alive Magazine provides some fascinating insights. Click here to read.
And now, the Poetry and Media digest:
  • Kila van der Starre recently gave a fascinating lecture on "street poetry," a term she uses to describe poetry written on public surfaces. "For centuries and centuries walls and buildings were the number one material carrier for literature, not paper," van der Starre said. "If you walk around the public area of the Netherlands, you can still see street poems that are centuries old." Click here to watch.
  • Angelica Frey took to JSTOR Daily to analyze the poetic antecedents of the aesthetic movement known as "cottagecore" that's currently taking Instagram by storm. Click here to read.
  • Pamela Sneed's beautiful remembrance of visual artist, fashion designer, and poet Frederick Weston is up on the ArtForum website. Click here to read. If you haven't seen Weston read poems, click here to watch a recording of one of his live wire performances.
  • Valzhyna Mort appeared on a recent broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition and shared "Music Practice," a poem about Mort's great-grandfather. "Most people in Belarus do not know much about the families that they come from," Mort said. "So my grandma would sit me in the kitchen every day and tell me the whole story of her life. I was angry and sad in history classes, because the stories of my family had no place in official historical narratives." Click here to listen.
  • Genia Daniels, the director of the upcoming Midwest Video Poetry Festival, thinks that the combination of video and poetry "can breathe new life into the genre." To learn more about the festival,  click here. And for a complete breakdown of the festival's upcoming programming, click here
  • Lil Ghostwriter has released a very strange, arguably unlistenable musical epic poem entitled "The Poet in Space." Click here to check it out, if you like bizarre art, it's a must-listen.
  • Kang Hyun-kyung of the Korea Times wrote a thorough recap of the 51st Modern Korean Literary Translation Awards and the commentary provided by poet Kim Yi-deum, the event's special guest. Kim discussed difficult living conditions facing Korean translators living abroad, her views on literature in the digital era, as well as her experience being dragged off the stage during the PEN International conference before she could finish reading her poem "Country Whore." To learn more about Kim's lively remarks, click here.
  • Gyula Gazdag's film A Poet on the Lower East Side, a 1997 "docu-diary" about the poets István Eörsi and Allen Ginsberg meeting for the first time, has (partially) resurfaced on YouTube. Click here to watch the first twenty minutes.
  • Tayi Tibble's poem "Our Nan Lets Us Smoke Inside" is the subject of the most recent episode of the Poetry Unbound podcast. Click here to listen.
  • Finally, here's a couple November 15th virtual events that are worth checking out… Tony Robies"Poetry for Social Justice" workshop and Erín Moure's upcoming appearance on "The Poetics of Translation" virtual reading series
For tips, comments, questions, or anything in between, drop us a line at pswebed@unl.edu.