PAD Challege Day 6: "Gifted and Black", "Raise Up", "Roots" and "All My Sisters"

Prompt 6:  Write an ekphrastic poem. An ekphrastic poem is a poem inspired by art.

P-A-D provided some paintings (Frida Kahlo’s “Roots”, Michelangelo’s “The Torment of Saint Anthony ”, Alfons Mucha’s “Age of Love”) to write about or you could pick and choose your own. I decided to choose one from their collection and select a few others that I admired and have seen at selective exhibitions. I always admired visual artists. To me, they are like poets, except they use brushes, and modern or vintage material to fuel their appetite for “freedom of expression” through their own imagination and uniqueness. The best thing about being an artist: You inspire and influence other works.  I find this prompt very sensational because I frequently visit museums and art galleries for  inspiration in life.

Here are a few I had in mind:
  • The Harp by Augusta Savage (discussed at NCCU in an art history course and disliked that it was demolished after its display)
  • All Archibald Motley pieces (seen most of his works in person at Nasher Museum of Art and discussed at NCCU in an art history course)
  • Roots by Frida Kahlo (have not seen in person but was aware of some of her works)
  • All My Sisters by Michael Anthony Brown (own a copy)
  • Raise Up by Hank Willis Thomas (Seen in person at 21 C Museum)
  • Gifted and Black by Darius Quarles (Seen in person at Pleiades Gallery, Durham, NC)

Raise Up

After four hundred years of bondage,
the chains and whips finally raised up.
After the cotton and sugar fields became unoccupied,
freedom turned around and raised up.
Then mysteriously some ropes on some
trees began to raise some bodies up.
And Jim Crow awoke and raised up
adjacent to injustice and inequality.

But, you know what?
When it came down to Brown v. Board, we raised up!
When it came to Emmett Till, we raised up!
From Selma to Montgomery, we raised up!
In the Southern Christian Leaderships Conference, with King, we raised up!
For the Little Rock Nine,
and the Aggie Four sit-in, we raised up!
With the Congress of Racial Equality, the NAACP, and
the Black Panther party, we raised up!
During the March on Washington, we raised up!
For the four girls blown up, we raised up!
When X and King were assassinated, we raised up!
Riot after riot,
and series of police brutality, we still raise up!
Case after case of discrimination and injustice for us,
we still try to raise up
from poverty, mass incarceration, violence,
and illiteracy on the streets of America.
And even with all ten in the air,
we don’t have to be at freeze to see,
that we were not meant to be
apart of the American dream.

So, come on my people-
time to wake up to work
and work and work together again
      until we raise up in:
                                        medicine ,
                                                                                          academics, and business to escape their dream, to reach for our own.

Raise Up By Hank Willis Thomas
Photo taken during my visit at 21 C Hotel Museum in 2015


all those
years, embedding their
souls under God’s forgiven
sun, with water running down their black backs and faces, I can say that
I have an abundant stem
arranged  for me to
bloom in memory
of my

Roots by Frida Kahlo

All My Sisters

I used to wish that my momma
had a daughter before me too.
One big sister for my eyes to look up to,
for my hand to hold,
for my back to rest against
while we exchange summer stories
and chew Fruit Stripe gum or AirHeads,
or to call on when
I need a pair of earrings
or “girlfriend” advice for my first date.

I used to wish.
But in words,
by heritage,
by struggles,
by grace,
in spirit,
by knowledge
and by wisdom,
She gave me:
Harriet Tubman
Phyllis Wheatley
Ida B. Wells
Madame C.J. Walker
Zora Neal Hurston
Shirley Chisholm
Amelia Boynton Robinson
Maya Angelou
Alice Walker
Oprah Winfrey
Jill Scott
Erykah Badu
Lauryn Hill
Toni Morrison
Iyanla Vanzant
Angela Davis
and Nikki Giovanni.

All My Sisters by Michael Anthony Brown

Photo of Archibald Motely Exhibition at Nasher Museum of Art taken during my visit in 2014.

Gifted and Black

Can you hear me lady?
Come on down from there.
Darius Quarles made you real jazzy.
Get up and come on down
out of them cloudy-blues
to wake up a few.

Need not worry.
We’ll find a drummer set,
a sax,
some strings,
a trombone,
a trumpet,
a guitar,
88 keys,
and one mic for you
to tell us that our soul’s
intact and that
we are still
young, gifted and black!

Gifted and Black By Darius Quarles
Photo taken during my visit at Pleiades Gallery in 2015.


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