But first, singer/pianist Sharon Bee entertained arrivals with her own compositions. The classically-trained pianist has a very beautiful voice and a huge talent. Later in the evening she told me that she is adapting some of a friend’s poems to music, turning them into songs. Her friend just happens to be one of our upcoming featured poets, Monika Lee, due to read June 4th! So we decided that Sharon and Monika will do a mixed performance. Can’t wait!
When Sharon Bee finished her set, our featured poet, M. NourbeSe Philip, read poems from her latest book Zong!, which is based on a legal decision at the end of the eighteenth century that related to the notorious murder of many Africans on board a slave ship. Slaves were dumped overboard like excess cargo in order to lighten the ship. Philip’s poems don’t limit themselves to the situation, its horror and its legal aftermath, but deal with slavery itself and the social and personal effects of slavery, and with death, survival, and memory...the dwindling memory of the murdered. And the sadness of that. She used the court document and other historical details as ‘found’ material to inspire deeper, wider feelings and poetic content.