The Residency and Immersion

Jaed Coffin’s goal is to aim for the big idea when he’s working on a writing project, often immersing himself in his subjects’ worlds. And he didn’t expect anything less from his students, who he urged yesterday to do their subjects’ stories justice by giving readers the big picture. There was a lot to take […]

Monica Hand’s *me and Nina*

Farmington, MA: Alice James Books, 2012. 78 pages. $15.95. The world continues to remember Nina Simone (formerly Eunice Kathleen Waymon) as a storyteller through songs, whose body of work created a legacy of compassion, empowerment and liberation. At the time of Simone’s death on April 21, 2003, she was already among the 20th century’s most […]

The Black Poets United And They All Got Down

The panel of poets at a Baltimore City Library quietly considered an audience member’s question: “When did you know you were a poet?” Evie Shockley, a presenter, smiled as the response brewed in her mind. She’d been asking herself the same thing until she took a poetry workshop led by Lucille Clifton. If you wrote […]

Urban Renewal: Major Jackson and Audre Lorde

The speakers in both Major Jackson’s 11-part poem “Urban Renewal” (from Leaving Saturn) and Audre Lorde’s Coal are both city dwellers coming to terms with the changing landscape. They fear possibly being displaced and mourn the once familiar structures city officials left “crumbling to gutted relics.”[1] The speakers aren’t alone in their suffering. “A chorus […]

The Quiet Photographer and The Bullhorn: T.S. Eliot and Amiri Baraka

A well-known poet once defined the poets’ role as that of “forensic scientists.” But, instead of a crime scene, poets comb the world around them, looking for evidence that the poem occurred. In that context, the speakers in T.S. Eliot’s Collected Poems: 1909-1962 and Amiri Baraka’s Transbluesency: Selected Poems 1961-1995 aren’t just concerned residents and […]

Bettina Judd’s Poetic Justice

She didn’t go looking for poetry. In fact, it was the other way around, Bettina Judd told a packed house Friday evening at the 14th and V streets Busboys and Poets. She was the Sept. 9 feature at the Nine on the Ninth monthly poetry event, the longest running series hosted exclusively by Hughes poet-in-residence […]

What Gets Lost In Pseudonyms

Nearly two years ago, I was laid off from my job as a staff writer for a black-owned newspaper in Baltimore. I didn’t cry or worry about my finances. I gathered my stuff quietly. (My co-workers didn’t know then they wouldn’t see me again.) Once in the back parking lot, I jumped for joy. No […]