Magazine article Humanities

A Festival of African American Poetry

Magazine article Humanities

A Festival of African American Poetry

Article excerpt

DREAM EXPLOSION

Fifty years ago Langston Hughes asked in a poem, "What happens to a dream deferred?" In response to that question, a poetry festival in St. Louis, Missouri, is calling itself "Dream Explosion." It draws African American poets and performers from all over the country for one week during April, National Poetry Month.

"The rich tradition of African American poetry was not being brought to the floor as well as it could be," says festival founder Dahveed Nelson. "I wanted to allow this festival to do that, to give a showcase."

Nelson organized the Langston Hughes World Black Poetry Festival, bringing the community together to hear poets read their work, speak in panel discussions, and participate in workshops. Nelson, a poet himself, says, "We try to bring the experience to the floor in a manner which will bring forth universal issues to an audience in a universal manner."

Writer and performer Reggie Gibson, who will participate in this year's festival, expands the description of universal issues: "There are several stories you have to look at-the Native American, the African American, the Irish immigrant-those are stories that are indispensable to us understanding our common myths, our common story as human beings in this section of the world. …

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