Black History Month: “A Night of Poetry and Jazz: The Legacy Lives On”
By: Shabbi Qureshi
The Harlem Renaissance was celebrated at MC’s first Black History Month event on the Germantown campus. It was hosted in the Globe Hall on Thursday, February 28th at 7:00 pm.
Local jazz group Clean Cutt performed, with MC’s Professor Keith Mathis on trumpet. Shanna Smith, Cave Canem fellow Carlo Pau, and Alan King recited poetry. MC’s Professor Steve Prince free-hand sketched the performers as they showed their art.
Professor Prince’s art was shown via slideshow and live exhibit. The stage was set for performances and a display of Professor Prince creating sketches, with his art as the background.
Clean Cutt performed four jazz songs, emphasizing drums and trumpets. The audience danced. Professor Prince swayed to the rhythm while sketching. To focus on sketches during performances, “I was drawing to the rhythm. The lyrical sound is inscribed in the patterns.”
By the first song’s end, Professor Prince completed a profile of Professor Keith Mathis.
Carlo Paul recited a poem that was written by his inspiration, Frederick Douglass. He proceeded to recite his original poetry. Paul dedicated one poem, Carlo John Baptiste, to his grandmother, and said he’d written Anthony’s Sonnet as an ode to a late friend.
When asked about performing, Carlo Paul smiled, saying, “This is my first time presenting. I practiced about an hour.” The poet was pleased by the night’s turn-out, saying it exceeded his farthest expectations.
The second poet of the event was Affilachian poet, Shanna Smith. She spoke fondly of other African American poets and delivered her words with conviction. While she spoke, Professor Steve Prince completed a sketch of her.
The last poet, Alan King, read poems from his new book, Drift. His words were raw and intimate. He showed no sign of hesitation performing in a room full of people. The audience was responsive, and this presentation was emotional for some in attendance.
After performances, four pieces of artwork created by Professor Steve Prince on stage were raffled off to four different audience members. Proceeds will fund similar events at MC. Professors Mathis and Prince think events involving cultural education are beneficial to students.
Professor Prince wants more organized events, encouraging expression of diversity among cultures, voicing the need to take a global perspective, pushing students of all cultures to showcase their own histories and talents.
When asked if MC provides sufficient education about Black History Month, Professor Keith Mathis replied, “There should definitely be more events similar to this for the month.” Professor Steve Prince said, “There should be no expiration of people’s history.”
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