The poem was written out of a passion to challenge the invisibility of the many ways women are silenced and I tried it out in performance with many different audiences of women – in schools, universities, feminist groups, at poetry events and in prison. Clare and I then collaborated with three drama students at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England who interpreted the poem through movement.
This locally-produced, no-budget film has been screened internationally at feminist film festivals.
The dancer/choreographers are Kristin Bacheva, Vanessa Owusu and Elle Payne. The sound is by Daniel Battersby, with music by Jahzzar and Ars Sonor.
Nathan Tranbarger filmed and edited this video for the Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas project, which has been going on now as long as Moving Poems. I’m happy to see that they’re not only still around; they’ve expanded into a proper online magazine as well as maintaining the public poetry poster side of the project. Kent State Magazine also has a short piece about this video:
[Fatou] M’Baye wrote the poem “Thank You, Tree” last fall as a fifth-grader attending the Holden Elementary School Writer’s Club, an after-school program. David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, held a workshop at the club as part of the center’s outreach efforts to the community. “In the first session, we started with the idea of being grateful for something in our lives,” says Hassler. “Fatou chose this tree.”
“I wanted to thank her for helping me and my friends,” says M’Baye. “I wanted to thank all the trees. Without them we wouldn’t have healthy, happy lives.” […]
Since 2009 illustrated poems have made their way across Northeast Ohio, displayed on buses and transit systems and printed on posters and postcards as a project of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Wick Poetry Center. Now these poetry illustrations are journeying around the world as part of an interactive website and traveling exhibit that launched this fall, with support from the Ohio Arts Council.
Traveling Stanzas—an award-winning collaboration between the Wick Poetry Center and the School of Visual Communication Design—aims to facilitate a global conversation through the intimate and inclusive voice of poetry. Featured poems are curated from global submissions and illustrated by Kent State students and alumni.
Click through to see the poster made for M’Baye’s poem.
Micah Fletcher, the sole survivor of last Friday’s knife attack by a white supremacist on a train in Portland, Oregon, is featured in this brief YouTube promo from September 2015:
Micah Fletcher from the Whatcha Wanna Do Crew spit a freestyle at Poetic Justice in the Park. Check it out. Don’t forget to come out to Poetic Justice Every Last Saturday of the Month!
It’s an unremarkable video, but Fletcher is clearly a remarkable man who doesn’t merely talk the talk, but walks the walk, as The Oregonian reports:
One of the men who came to the defense of a teenager wearing a hijab on a MAX train Friday won a 2013 poetry competition with a poem condemning prejudices faced by Muslims.
Micah David-Cole Fletcher was injured in the attack after he and two other men approached suspect Jeremy Christian, who was allegedly yelling racial slurs at two young women, one of whom is Muslim.
Christian is suspected of stabbing all three of them, killing Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and injuring Fletcher. Fletcher, now 21, was a Madison high school student when he won the poetry contest.
At first, Fletcher refused painkillers. He had seen people become addicted, Helm said, and didn’t want that to happen to him. But his family’s pleas and the growing pain made him change his mind, Helm said.
“‘This is the most exquisite pain I have ever felt,'” Fletcher told her.
The young man’s family could not be reached.
Last Memorial Day weekend, Fletcher and other poets part of Spit/WRITE, a youth poetry group, were reading poems about social justice on a MAX train. The purpose was to give them the space to call attention to social justice issues, one of his poetry mentors, S. Renee Mitchell, said.
Fletcher has already established himself as a poet passionate about social injustice. One of his poems in a 2013 poetry slam that he won railed against the prejudices faced by Muslims.
“When two towering trees of wrought iron and glass and cement are brought down to their knees,
We let it leave an ugly footprint on america that hasn’t disappeared in 12 years.
As in one third the amount of civilians killed by drones in the middle east per one terrorist caught in the crossfire,” Fletcher read from a black book.
Portland poet Maia Abbruzzese said Fletcher was a mentor to her and another 11 poets in 2015. She’s come across him numerous times since then at poetry slams. His poems are philosophical and often have a social justice angle, she said.
Because of the themes in his poetry and what she saw of his personality, Abbruzzese said she wasn’t surprised he was involved in the incident on the MAX train.
“Just because of who he is as a person,” Abbruzzese said. “He deeply cares about other people.”
For more about Fletcher and the other two victims of the attack, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Rick Best, see “These three men stood up to hate in Portland” on CNN.com. I don’t usually get on the soapbox here, but as a U.S. citizen and a leftist, I will just say that although it’s tempting to be endlessly cynical about U.S. war-making and neoliberal economic imperialism, that’s not necessarily who we are. We are David Christian a bit, yes, but we are also the young women he abused and the three men who stood up to oppose him. As a poet, I’d like to think that I would’ve done as Micah Fletcher did, but I’m not sure I would’ve found the courage. In any case, there’s no need to indulge further tribal feelings here. I’m simply proud to be part of the same human race as Micah Fletcher.