Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Collegiate Black Women and Empowering poems

Mahogany Browne's "Black Girl Magic" is a class favorite. 
We've listened to more than 25 audio recordings of black women reading poetry in one of my African American literature courses. I'm learning as I listen to so many different delivery styles from black women poets, and just as important, I'm expanding and refining my knowledge concerning the artistic and political interests of collegiate black women, who comprise the entire make-up of my class.

The other day, I gave the students the opportunity to select what poems we listened to again. They only chose what we might refer to as the spoken word artists. The young women leaned toward poems that they thought projected messages of empowerment and black woman pride.

For instance, they were most interested in Mahogany L. Browne's "Black Girl Magic," jessica care moore's "Black Statue of Liberty," Danielle Hall's "In Transition," and a performance of "What if I am a Black Woman?"

Granted, the sisters are in their first year, so their poetic interests might head in different directions. Still, I am fascinated by their current interests. They shunned more canonical poems and gravitated toward poems that urged black people and especially black women forward.

What makes those empowering poems matter to them so much? Where do they encounter the poems, since as they tell me, they are never introduced to such works in formal classroom contexts? In what ways might we utilize empowering poems or the poetic interests of collegiate black women to enhance African American literary studies?  I hope to keep raising questions like these and asking the young sisters about answers.    

An Af-Am lit. course: Recordings of black women reading poetry

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