Project Description

Bob Devin Jones is the Artistic Director of The Studio@620, the downtown arts space where the answer is always – ‘Yes.’

The Studio is celebrating Black History Month with a range of events, including

February 6 at 7 pm
Poets on Poets – a Showcase of Readings
Celebrating the influence and carrying on the legacy of poetry from Langston Hughes to Maya Angelou.

Details here

February 7 at 7 pm
Cultural Panel Discussion
Digging into culture and diversity and building bridges to trust, respect, and understanding.

Details here

by Lavarrick King

February 8-29
Emerging Artists of Color
A special group art exhibition featuring emerging local talent.

Details here

February 14 & 15 at 7:30 pm
Jazz Theory
projectALCHEMY Dance collaborates with saxophonist Jeremy Carter and his band.

Details here

February 17 at 7 pm
Master Harold. . . And The Boys
A staged reading of the classic coming of age drama set in apartheid South Africa by Athol Fugard, directed by Bob Devin Jones.

Details here

February 27 at 7 pm
An Evening with Sharon Scott
The powerful, powerhouse vocals of soul, gospel, blues and jazz singer Sharon Scott.

Details here

by Gary Lemons

February 29 at 7 pm
Hooked on the Art of Love
A book release and discussion of Gary L. Lemons’ newest book, composed of works by literary/cultural critics, visual artists, poets and dramatists – representing bell hooks’ cross-genre vision of art.

Details here

The Arts Coast Journal welcomes Bob Devin Jones as our Guest Editor in February. Bob Devin asked to celebrate not Black History, but Black History Month.

The Arts Coast Journal aims to cover artists of all ages and ethnicities throughout the year. This month you’ll find a focus on African American visual, literary and performing artists and arts education — explorations suggested by Bob.

We start Black History Month 2020 off with a poem Bob Devin Jones composed for the occasion.

. . . 

February 1, 2020 | By Bob Devin Jones

photo by Denzel Johnson-Green

. . .

       I TOO SING AMERICA

I TOO SING AMERICA

. . . 

     BUT ONLY A FRACTION OF IT… SADLY

     IN 3/5 TIME

. . . 

I SING AMERICA, I TRULY, TRULY DO

ONLY RECENTLY DO I FULLY UNDERSTAND       

      BECAUSE OFTEN I HAD TO STAND UNDER

THE DELICIOUS IRONY OF MANY OF THE  TRUTHS… ‘TUNES’ IF YOU WILL

. . . . . . 

      “WE HOLD THESE TUNES TO BE SELF EVIDENT”

      “THE LAND OF THE FREE…”

      “CROWN THY GOOD WITH BROTHERHOOD…”

       “WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL…”

SOME PART OF THESE “TUNES” OF AMERICA OFTEN COLLIDED IN MY MOUTH

    THE NARRATIVES DISAPPEAR, THE SHAPED NOTES ASSAULT THE EARS

       A MURDER BALLAD TO THE SPIRIT

            

        AND EMMETT TILL’S MOTHER WITHIN A FORTNIGHT SEES THE ACQUITTED MURDERS

        OF HER NATIVE SON

        ON THE COVER OF LIFE/LOOK MAGAZINE  SAYING

        “I DID IT”

       

     THE CONSEQUENCE: THESE AMERICAN TUNES HAVE ELUDED ME MOST OF MY LIFE…

. . . 

           THE PERSISTENCE

           OF MELODY AND SONG

           AM, ON THE MELODIES

. . . 

YOU SEE, MY DADDY TAUGHT THEM TO ME, EVEN THE ONES HE COULD NOT RECALL OR REMEMBER

  ALL OF THEM… FORTUNATELY

   THE MELODY OF AMERICA,  HIS AMERICA… HE THOUGHT THAT TO ME,

   HIS EXHAUSTION AT THE END OF SEVERAL DAYS’ WORK

   ALL IN ONE 24 HOUR DAY, HE TAUGHT THE MELODIES TO ME

HE TAUGHT IT TO ME BEFORE I CAME INTO THIS WORLD,

IN AUGUST…  AUGUST 19 “HUNDRED” 54

. . . 

photo by Denzel Johnson-Green

HE TAUGHT IT TO ME BACK IN 1946,

     NEARLY A DECADE BEFORE I WAS BORN

WHEN MY DADDY CAME BACK FROM THE SECOND WORLD WAR

FROM JAPAN AFTER THE AMERICAN BOMBS LEVELED TWO OF THE CITIES THERE

     HE TAUGHT ME THE MELODIES OF AMERICA

. . . 

WHEN HE IT WAS MADE CLEAR TO HIM

. . . 

THAT HE WAS NEVER GOING TO BE A FIREMAN

BLACK FIREMEN DID NOT EXIST IN THE PERSISTENT ANTEBELLUM SOUTH

NOT IN

LAKE PROVIDENCE LOUISIANA

      HE STARTED HIS MILE HEADED WEST TOWARD CALIFORNIA… WHERE I WAS BORN 

        WHERE HE HEARD MOST OF THE SAME TUNES… DIFFERENT MELODY

         SAME SAD SONG

. . . 

     MY DADDY’S FATHER

   MY GRAND DADDY,  TAUGHT THE MELODY OF AMERICA TO ME,

   WHEN I LOOKED INTO HIS EYES, EYES THAT HAD LOOKED INTO HIS OWN FATHER’S EYES…

   EYES THAT HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN ENSLAVED

   THE MELODY OF AMERICA WAS TAUGHT TO ME…

   WAS TAUGHT TO ME IN THE FRACTION OF MY MOTHERS PHYSICAL PRESENCE

   A PRESENCE AND  A WARMTH THAT WAS ALWAYS JUST BEYOND MY REACH

   WHICH I UNDERSTOOD (MUCH LATER) WAS SOME ANCIENT CALAMITY

. . . 

   SOME ATAVISTIC TRANSGRESSION

   THAT WOULD FOREVER BE UNSPOKEN…

   BUT NEVER UNREMEMBERED

          AND ME EVER… FOREVER CURIOUS

AS I HAVE GROWN

        THOSE 3/5TH FRACTIONS NEVER SEEM TO ADD UP

        YOU KNOW, WHERE ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS TWO

        OR THE EMPHATIC LOGIC OF, ONE MAN ONE VOTE

OR DISCERNING HOW MANY ANGELS CAN ACTUALLY DANCE ON THE HEAD OF A PIN

OR THAT YOU COULD ACTUALLY FIT MORE OF THE GYRATING ANGELS ON THAT PIN

IF THEY WERE (IN FACT) NOT DANCING

BUT RATHER IN SOME SORT OF MUTED INTIMATE CONGRESS

OR NUMBERING HOW MANY PEOPLE YOU HAVE TO ENSLAVE ‘ROUND THE WORLD

TO IMAGINE YOURSELF A SUPER POWER

OR A NATION THAT HAS/HAD SUPER POWERS

. . . 

SO YOU SEE I’M JUST REAL SENSITIVE TO FRACTIONS

. . . 

OVER SENSITIVE PERHAPS… THIS IS WHERE THE POET CATCHES HIS BREATH

Keep St Pete Lit – Bob Devin Jones performing at the 2nd annual Fantastic Ekphrastic at Soft Water Studios. Art by Suzy Schultz. Poem by Frank Wells. Photo by Tim Arruda.

. . . 

       I’M TERRIFIED IN FACT

       OF THE FRACTION 3/5 HUMAN,

       OH,THE MELODIES

                                                                                                                                                   

THAT MELODY REGARDING RATHER OR NOT

THAT OPTIMISTIC GLASS WAS HALF AS FULL AS IT SHOULD BE… AS IT OUGHT TO BE

OR WHAT NUMBER OF BLACK FOLK CONSTITUTES A MAJORITY

        WHERE IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH FOR SOME OF THE 1600’S, THE 1700’S, AND MOST OF THE 1800 HUNDREDS

         BLACKS WERE BECOMING TOO NUMEROUS, A BLACK FACT AND TO SOME OTHERS

. . . 

         AN ALARMING FRACTION

         TO COUNT ALL PERSON WHO WERE DESCENDANTS OF THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA

              ALBEIT BORN IN AMERICA

. . . 

    THERE WOULD JUST BE FAR TOO MANY

    SO A COMPROMISE

  

         THE: 3/5 COMPROMISE   

“IN ORDER TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION’

. . . 

          IT IS IN THE CONSTITUTION, FOLKS

. . . 

LESS THAN 30 LINES IN

IT IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE HUSH IN THE ROOM

        2/10THS OF THE WAY INTO THE ADDRESS AT GETTYSBURG

        THE LINE WHERE LINCOLN STATED THAT “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL”

        JUST SO MANY WORDS IN…

        ”CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY AND DEDICATED TO THE PROPOSITION THAT ALL MEN WERE CREATED EQUAL…”

THE CUDGEL A FRACTION (IF YOU WILL) THAT CLEARS THE ROOM

THE FRACTION THAT COMPELS THIS POET TO FOREVER CATCH HIS BREATH

        ASPIRATIONAL… CERTAINLY, DEVOUTLY TO BE WISHED… ABSOLUTELY

        BUT ALSO SIMPLY NOT THE FACT OF THE REALITY OR MUSICALITY HOW THIS REPUBLIC

. . . 

               CAME TO BE

   NOT IN AMERICA

. . . 

              I TOO SING AMERICA

              I TRULY, TRULY… DO

You can hear a conversation with Bob Devin Jones
on Arts In, the Creative Pinellas podcast.

Bob Devin Jones will be performing
Black Witness, the Life and Times of James Baldwin
at USFSP on February 11 at 2:30 pm, a free show. Details here