Reflections on Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and The Boulevard Trial Book Birthday

The past couple of months have brought blessings into my life and helped me to cope with the turmoil present in our world on a daily basis.

I have found continued peace and inspiration through art, specifically through writing, as a SU-CASA 2018 artist-in-residence for my amazing Senior Poetry Workshop at the Grace Agard Senior Center in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, made possible by the Brooklyn Arts Council. So far, we have enjoyed reading poetic forms as haiku, renga, sonnets, as well as many free verse poems. The seniors have written truly inspired poems as a group, and individually, pursuant to various thematic writing prompts. I’ve also been thrilled to learn that the senior poets have been writing at home as well. Just yesterday in our workshop, I loved listening to the poem of one of our senior poets, who shared a rhyming love poem he had written for his wife for Valentine’s Day.

For Black History Month, we began with the Harlem Renaissance and read powerful poems by renowned poets such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, Claude McKay, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and others. We continued with poetry from the Civil Rights Era to the present, and enjoyed reading poems by Dr. Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Sonia Sanchez, and current U. S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith.

We are very excited as we prepare for our first public reading on Friday, April 20th to be held at the center from 1:30pm-2:30pm. Poet Jerry T. Johnson will join us as a special featured guest poet. We had the pleasure of reading some of Jerry’s haiku from his ebook, Morning to Morning (Amazon, 2017) during the haiku portion of the workshop. It will be an honor to have Jerry join us at the April 20th reading, during which the senior poets will read poems they’ve written in the workshop. It will be an exciting event!

 

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we have read poems by current Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Elizabeth Alexander, Sharon Olds, Brenda Cardenas, Ada Limon, and more timeless, empowering poetry by Dr. Maya Angelou. Some of the writing prompts so far have included, “music”, “mother/parent and child”, and “flowers”. It is a pleasure and a privilege to listen to the words of the senior members of the workshop as they put their voices on paper.

I would like to take a moment to wish The Boulevard Trial  a Happy 3rd Book Birthday today! My feminist legal thriller has been praised for its, “Vivid Descriptions of Women’s Varied Experiences,” and for its, “strong female characters that are so real they practically jump off the pages.” The book has gone further than I ever could have imagined and I am grateful for readers’ support today and always.

I just want to say that I continue to be inspired by Emma Gonzalez and her fellow youth activists raising their voices to seek real change with respect to our country’s gun laws after the devastating school shooting in Florida. Power, peace and inspiration to you all, dear members of our future!

Onward in art, solidarity and strength,

Steph

 

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