Friday, October 15, 2010

"Runagate Runagate" performance at the EBR Reading Room

Kathryn Bentley with drama students Sarah Goins, Sharana Turnage, Curtis Lewis

A few days after their first visit, Professor Kathryn Bentley returned to the Redmond Reading Room with a group of her students to record a choral reading of Robert Hayden's poem "Runagate Runagate."

I had read Hayden's poem for years, but experienced it anew when I heard the performance by Bentley and her crew. Here's an excerpt of their reading.


From Hayden's "Rungatate Runagate"

           "Rise and go or fare you well

No more auction block for me
no more driver's lash for me

           If you see my Pompey, 30 yrs of age,
           new breeches, plain stockings, negro shoes;
           if you see my Anna, likely young mulatto
           branded E on the right cheek, R on the left,
           catch them if you can and notify subscriber.
           Catch them if you can, but it won't be easy.
           They'll dart underground when you try to catch them,
           plunge into quicksand, whirlpools, mazes,
           turn into scorpions when you try to catch them.

And before I'll be a slave
I'll be buried in my grave

           North star and bonanza gold
            I'm bound for the freedom, freedom-bound
           and oh Susyanna don't you cry for me

                         Runagate
                               Runagate"

Related posts:
Black Theater at the EBR Reading Room
Performing Poetry in the EBR Reading Room

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