Black History Month Poetry Showcase at Studio 620

Blog #15

My friend, poet Miesha Brundridge, organized and hosted an incredibly moving and powerful Black History Month showcase on February 27. Miesha has been organizing seasonal showcases for over two years now, and I am one of the returning poets in her themed shows. I am so grateful for the community of poets I met at the Studio 620 and how they read poems as though they are opening the pages of their skin. It is that kind of honesty.

At the Black History Month Showcase, each performer read a tribute poem where they honored a Black poet and then they read an original piece. My middle school poetry students from John Hopkins performed too and it was amazing to see them read their work! They write with incredible depth and emotion and I got chills listening to them.

If you missed the show, don’t feel bad! Limited seats were available due to COVID. The show was also livestreamed on Facebook so you can check it out at your convenience by going to the Studio 620’s Facebook page and clicking on the video from February 27!

flier by Coralette Damme

Here is a poem that I put together using lines from the original poems performed at the Black History Month showcase by the John Hopkins Middle School Students from Poetry Club:


Community Poem, John Hopkins Middle School Students:

Kasim, Markel, Nashon, Emily, Kerry, Joesiah, Kirel


As a young king rises and a bird sings

he says Today is the day

and the people sing for freedom.


If I don’t use my voice

that’s like starving

but not eating my food


I’m still here.

I’ve been trying to get better

grinding on the daily

and to all my fallen brothers

it won’t be the same


I will love myself once again

I will not be afraid to love me anymore

I will not be afraid


What code do you follow?

How do you ride?


Instead of violence

let’s talk about knowledge

Like getting good grades

and going to college


How are we to be told apart?

If not by our mistakes let it be by our hearts


Basing what you think of me

off the chapter of my life you walked in on

Instead of reading my book cover to cover


Because you can’t write your thoughts in me

without talking to me


Colors they choose to separate us people

ripped us down took our freedom like we were evil


Why don’t they call us their sisters and brothers?

It’s because of the past

or even something deeper


We breathe the same air

We live in the same place


You would think it’s only fair if we get treated equally


But when we get caught

there always seems to be shots


The positive electricity it will shoot out, it will go, it will flow

cause I too Dream a World of nothing less than greatness and peace

where a person of a race other than Caucasian

from Africans all the way to Asians

where we all can feel not just great but safe


At the end of the day

all we can say

is keep walking.

And here is the tribute poem that I read for the show, “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes:


And my original piece, “Black is Beautiful”:


Black is Beautiful


Oh, how my grandmother soaked up

constant compliments, wore bikinis

until her seventies, daisy dukes and crop tops,

blonde curls bouncing as she raised one shoulder,

then the other like Marilyn Monroe

in that famous white dress.


My friend Danielle and I were teenagers

when we sat at the kitchen table

flipping through her makeup artist book:

glossy pages of white faces.


Except for one.

Grandma saw and said She’s pretty

for a Black girl.


Later, in my bedroom,

Danielle said, Gorgeous

for a human being!

and pointed to the model

with shimmering cheeks, a spirit

that leapt off the page.


Two decades later,

I look up at the sky. Finally,

I say to Grandma, Black is beautiful.


I say to my seven-month-old son

who still doesn’t need to unlearn anything:

Black is beautiful.


And when I see dark skin

in a magazine or on TV, I want

More. On covers,

with lead roles,

in positions of power.


Beautiful     rushing

rivers       of       Blackness.


Black person, Black pen, Black chair,

Black sand, Black stairs, Black sky, Black cat,

Black butterfly, Black person,

person, person: universe.


Thank you for reading.


Peace, love, and hope for a more equal and just world,


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