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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blank Page Poetry - Words and Shadows: Truths That Arise Remembered

      Last week I was part of a volunteer cast that participated in an extraordinary multi-disciplinary event called Blank Page Poetry - Words and Shadows: Truths That Arise Remembered.      
      The show was conceived of and directed by visual artist Jerome Meadows of Savannah, Georgia. Jerome first came to Portsmouth to design the memorial park acknowledging, for the first time since it was built over, our town's African Burying Ground. Blank Page Poetry was an offering of artistic responses to the memorial. I was one of the eleven poets chosen to share a response poem. We performed behind a blank screen showing only our shadows, along with a few words we chose to take from our poems to be digitally projected on the screen during our recitations. The readings were enhanced by choreographed movements we designed, with Jerome's input, to accentuate our words. The audience saw only our black shadows on the white screen, with a few of our words highlighted, while we recited and embodied our poems. The Neoteric Dance Collaborative also performed an ekphrastic piece choreographed by Brea Cali.

    It was an incredibly meaningful experience to participate in, about a subject that already was so meaningful to me. Beyond that it was wonderful to tackle a new art form, and to collaborate with others to communicate to a wider audience. I hope that the SRO crowd of two hundred was as moved as I was, and from the few reports that I have heard, they were. I was privileged to have stood "for those who survived upon these shores."
     I share below one of the two poems I wrote that were part of the show, along with an image of
Jerome's sculpture that inspired it.

I'm on the left with poet Priscilla Cookson on right.
These four photos by Sarah Flause.

The Female Figure

Mother Africa reaches for her children
but her hand can not get to them.
They, like so many of her treasures,
have slipped from her grasp.

And no one can see
her great mother grief
as her quiet tears
fall into the sea
that takes her young.

And no one can feel
the searing heart pain
in her engorged breast
as her milk dries
for want of suckle.

And no one can know
her spiritual sorrow
as she wonders,     forever,
where now     will her children
be laid to rest?

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                                PH-528009998.jpg&cb=480&Maxh=623&Maxw=738&border=0&Q=65 (720×480)

Seacoastonline gallery photo of artist Jerome Meadows speaking to a crowd near The Female Figure at The African Burying Ground in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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