The I, Too Arts Collective is a non-profit organization founded by Renée Watson, committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. In July 2016, she launched an online fundraising campaign to lease the brownstone where Langston lived and created during the last twenty years of his life. The #LangstonsLegacy campaign raised over $150,000 and secured a three-year lease. Hundreds of people from all over the world supported the campaign. It was truly a collective effort, and now it’s time for the real work to begin. Check out more here: www.itooarts.com
Happy Poetry Month! I have been writing a poem a day & wanted to post some of the new work. We are working on media literacy with the Bronx Poetry Project & we spent some time analyzing magazine covers - what a wild world we entered. So much madness. Hope you enjoy.
Found Poem #1
You won’t be able to stop checking out your butt, but
be brave this year. This year look Hot! Hot! Hot!
in your jeans. Girls Gone Wild (for less). Less
is more. More is more. But how far must a girl go
to get his attention? Hot Abs. Hot Arms. Hot Thighs
How far must a girl go? His attention? How hot hot
hot is his attention – girl. Get Instagram Instaglam. Oh!
Fashion, beauty & body tricks. Tricks of the beauty trade—
Bikini Body Confidence. Blitz. Glitz. Gutz. Butz & Bendz.
Slutz & Steady Glamor. Sexy cuts. Sexy tone. Sexy sexy
sexy sexy sexy sexy. Sexy. Amazing shine. Shine & get
the guy. Get flat abs. Fast. Get major confidence. Get:
Gutted. Get: Guilty. Get: Major stressors. Get smooth
skin fast. Get 625 pretty looks for YOU. Party hair. Party
skin. Party boobs. Party bod. 763 fashion tips & beauty
tricks. Boost your bra size in one month. Boost your hot
flat abs. Boost your confidence. Boost your mood w/
659 new luscious lip colors. Learn to kiss. Sexy like.
This issue is for YOU.
This issue is for YOU—
Is this issue
for YOU? Who
is this issue for?
To all the birds painted & all their wings. To the decades long friendships & all the poems. To new collections, drinks on rooftops, lime, lobster rolls on the beach, sunshine, sand. So thankful for the time. For all the words & all the ways to say them.
To this trip I will never forget. Here's the start to a new poem:
To the shark fin on the bullet train from Sendai to Tokyo -
How ocean you are. How deep dark sea scrawl, belly crawl how you taste of raw & helpless, how you lapse & drape, thwap the whole of your boneless accordion around my tongue. How you sidle & meander rock loose & let flap. How you must have held memory, a rollicking jut of salt & sand. Each waves' buoyant frolic towards hunger & then sate. How you never expected the hook,
All you knew then was swim. Eat or get eaten. & all the time I am thinking that those of us on land
are doing the exact
This partnership started nearly three years ago to create a global exchange between poets in Japan and the U.S. Currently we have over 30 students in South Korea, Japan and the U.S. all sharing poetry & who they are. On the final days of the trip we visited the Tohoku region, site of the tsunami that devasted the area nearly five years ago. We visited a local high school to share poetry as a way to heal. Renée Watson brought her gorgeous book - A Place Where Hurricanes Happen & we shared our collective future together. The poetry transformed the room. Started the healing process. How poetry grounds & connects us. & it does!
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy held a beautiful reception at the Embassy & toasted our young poets. Here they are posing for the camera & loving getting to know each other. They also performed at the Literary Festival & we got the chance to see Poetry Boxing in action at Tsukuba Elementary. Also got to teach a performance workshop to all the students with the brilliant Renée Watson. Warm-up games, songs, intro silliness & emotional car ride. The poets were awesome!
Welome to Japan. See the city this way - with young poets from NYC & Tokyo & South Korea & Okinawa. Watch their thrill & see your own. Watch the way the words unwind. Capture every possible moment. Be awake, alert. You won't want to forget.
All down home. All North Limestone & family. All radical spaces & love. All brilliant students who are grown. All the wildest of figs. All fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, biscuits & gravy. All bell hooks & Gloria Steinem secret events. All in awe of Crystal Wilkinson & all the community she continues to build & build. All crock pots of chili at Madison Southern. Lord, it all makes me feel so home. Can't wait to get back. Love!
This poet life - all Texas, Amanda Johnston, Parneshia Jones, lakes & late lunches.
Grisham Middle School visit - poeting about bra shopping & French kissing.
Shots & Pilsner
Back to DreamYard this week & witness to such a brilliant & genius borough. Glad to be back in the Bronx. Feels like home.
I feel honored to be a part of this incredibly moving project. Please click the link below to read the poem, & find more info on the project.
Lament for the Dead is an online community poetry project which will mark the death of every person killed by police this summer, and every police officer who loses life in the line of duty, with a poem.
The first lie that hate tells us is that any other person is not as human as we are. This project resists that lie by recognizing each other’s humanity, even in the most difficult places.
Lexington, my love.
Chicago - you city of conjure women & decades old friendship. City of lakes & loose talk, all Old Style all night, city of fried perch w/ jalapeños, peppermint sticks in pickles, Bookends & Beginnings for the Vessel juke joint party. Ellis & Jones & DFlo. You city of fried pickles & cheese curd, all Midwest & wild, all rowdiness. City of salted grits & fried eggs, falafel & lamb & hummus. City of griddle burgers & garden dragged hot dogs w/ relish, white onions, tomatoes, celery salt, sport peppers & a pickle - done right. Damn! City of late night poetry, the Green Mill, bass players & cold beer, open mic - Angela Jackson making the night fire. Chicago - I come back to you always.
Thank you for having us.
Hey folks. We are headed for the open road. First stop is Chicago for Parneshia Jones & the Vessel book party & then we will be reading at the Green Mill on Sunday, June 28th. Then we are heading home to Kentucky for a reading at Carmichael's Bookstore on Friday, July 3rd, and another stop at the Morris book shop on Thursday, July 9th. Please check the calendar for times & info. & follow here for updates & poems & photos. Hope to see y'all somewhere soon.
for Freddie Gray
Consider the whole built spine
& how long it took to deconstruct
consider riot as retribution, cleansing even,
An open letter to Michael T. Slager
In memory of Walter L. Scott
It was the standing there that fucked me up
your body upright, right & erect—how many
ways can you let someone die? Beneath you,
your very stand/stance your whole vertical shit
stiff & still, shifted eyes—but body cocked up
up turned—closer to sky, to wings & flit fuck
you man & the way your spine stood still, firm
all those vertebrae lined up, a house beneath
your skin where you're at home, confident.
because staying dry is sometimes remedy
all those metal spokes jutting about
plastic handle hold on tight canopy
awning from sky awning from down
pour because there was no rain
but you held onto that smallest roof
in any case coat buttoned styled
half dangling on your open mouthed
half smile sometimes
just the thought of protection is enough.
Ekphrastic poem from: Young girl with umbrella on Centre Street Hill District, Pittsburgh 1951, Richard Saunders
Gather arms wrapped around waists, backs
& tilted chins, square jaws, pantyhose, patterned
clothes held close. Celebrate congregate cocktails
wedding bells. Trees tell, gather tales, tell them tall
take ‘em home.
*Ekphrastic Poem based on painting by Johnathan Green, 1988, oil on masonite