Spring 2021 Malcolm X Symposium: Community-Generated Poetry Activity

Below are three community-generated poems from the Malcolm X Symposium held virtually Feb. 16, 2021.  The poems and the inspiration lines used in the activity were inspired by the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” and the  2021 Black History Month Theme: The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.


Our Song is Not a Solo

 

Stand with loved ones

Stand with all

Stand with me in sorrow

Stand with me in joy.

Today does not determine tomorrow,

And even if I fall, I am no longer alone;

There’s a landing with each other.

 

You fell but you continued to rise.

Hold your head up high,

Every day moving forward

Your voice matters.

Jonathan is not alone.

Quan is not alone.

To love is to share;

To share is to love

We can’t be wrong if this is where we belong.

 

Stand when you feel like sitting

Stand for solidarity even when there’s no popularity

Stand with love

Stand with sacrifice

Stand with humbleness.

 

West Michigan djembe rhythm binds us

Propels us forward in equity.

Lift each other, lift our voices

Carry our song to the past, present and future;

Our song is not a solo.

 

Poets: Sylvia J. Brown Jones, James Campbell, Maxine Hankins Cain, Barb Clauer, Michelle Curtin, Willie Davis, Jeanne Donado, Melissa Kaplan, Dara Mayhoe, Gezelle Oliver, Steve Robinson, Alice G. Thompson.


Untitled

In Lansing, Michigan

To love is to share

At Lansing Community College

To share is to love

We’re in this together

 

Poets: Barb Clauer, Jeanne Donado and Steve Robinson


Courage Embedded  

 

Even when I fall

and seaweed binds my mind

I see a fine shore beckoning,

the beginning of a story based on rivers of Shiny stardust.

Alone through a voyage, my ancestors came

Alone through time, with heartache and pain.

What they encountered, I cannot comprehend.

Their courage embedded; my heart is its home,

Their bravery lives on; I am not alone.

 

Stirred to love, understanding, and empathy

for my kinspeople, I shout never give up

always rise, forever rise in unconditional love.

We are resilient, valuable and strong

and will hold each other up.

Stand strong as family, stand strong in the wind.

I depend on the strength of my family

to help me stand once again

We stand for a better tomorrow;

We are stronger together.

 

Poets: Sylvia J. Brown Jones, Maxine Hankins Cain, Barb Clauer, Melissa Kaplan, Ronda Miller, Niall, Andres Olvera


Introduction to the Community-generated Poetry Activity:

Hi I’m Barb Clauer, English Professor and creator of the LCC Community-Generated Poetry Project.  I’m so glad to have been invited by Dr. Davis to be part of this evening.  This year, with the Poetry Project, I’ve been exploring how to create poetry together in virtual events like this. I (preemptively) appreciate your willingness to explore and jump in with me! No poetry writing experience needed, just a willingness to join your voice with others and try to interact with the themes and concepts from this wonderful evening secure in the knowledge that poetry is many different things including expansive and inclusive.

These directions will stay on the screen as we write:

    • Please take 2-3 minutes to write a couple of lines of your own in response to our “inspiration lines” (see below) which were part of an LCC community-generated poem expanding on the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome”. (Hopefully all are ok with a couple minutes of quiet while we write! :))
    • Copy into the chat what you’re comfortable sharing; Prof Clauer will pull some lines into a quick poem to share. (I’ll do my best but we’ll also have the chat to go back to for whatever I inevitably miss :))
    • Inspiration lines: “Stand with loved ones/Stand with all/Today does not determine tomorrow/and even if I fall, I am no longer alone”

Information sent to the poets after the event:

Hello Malcolm X Symposium Poets!

Thank you so much for jumping into the community-generated poetry activity at the end of the Malcolm X Symposium 2/16.  Your willingness to share your voices and your trust in the idea that we could create something together is inspiring. In addition to the poem I read at the end of the Symposium, now titled “Our Song is Not a Solo”, I pulled other lines posted to the chat and wove those together into two more poems: a short one left untitled, and the other titled “Courage Embedded”

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