Students Explore Themes of Struggle and Freedom Through Works of Black Poets

poetry corner bhmOn Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Skyline College Library was pleased to welcome 35 students from Professor Williams and Professor Lachmayr’s classes for a thought-provoking hour as Dr. Bianca Rowden-Quince read a selection of works by some of her favorite black poets. The event, in part of the Library’s Poetry Corner Series, highlighted poems that speak to the African American experience, beginning with her own.

First up was Useni Eugene Perkins’ “Hey Black Child,” a poem that Dr. Rowden-Quince herself recited on stage when she was five. She continued reading across the century with powerful poems by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Tupac Shakur, Alice Walker and Dr. Harryette Mullen. Students shared their thoughts on common themes expressed by the poems such as the freedom to be oneself, the solitude of living on the fringe and struggles with systems of visible and invisible oppression.

One student read aloud a passage from The New Jim Crow echoing Maya Angelou’s poem, “Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Another student spoke frankly to her own reality: “We have to act a certain way just so we can live.” Another explained, in reference to his own coming out “We don’t even know we’ve been caged until we’ve managed to free ourselves.”

The Poetry Corner series seeks to bring our community together to foster commonalities and shared experiences within a safe environment. You can read Dr. Rowden-Quince’s poetry selections  or check out works by a century of black poets on display in the Library lounge area throughout February.

Please also join us at the Library on March 18, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. for a celebration of women’s history through poetry hosted by Assistant Professor of Engineering and Physics Maryam Khan.

Thinking about bringing your class to the Library? Please contact Outreach and Equity Librarian Pia Walawalkar at walawalkars@smccd.edu.

The Poetry Corner Series is supported by a President’s Innovation Fund award.

Article by Jessica Silver-Sharp | Photo by Ricardo Coronado

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