The four Black poets a New Hampshire teacher recommends you read right now (via NHPR)

This event takes place wednesday, december 15, 2021.

A poetry night from the black heritage trail of N.H. is exploring where poetry and science overlap.

New Hampshire teacher Courtney Marshall loves horror movies, but she loves poetry, especially Black poetry, even more. She combined the two passions when she picked Eve Ewing’s poem “Horror Movie Pitch” to be featured in “The Race for STEM,” a poetry event at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth on Wednesday night.

Wednesday’s event [Dec. 15, 2021] is the second in a three-part poetry series called “Black Matter is Life.” The annual series is produced by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. It began last year to explore how poetry by Black authors can help heal the “nation’s deep racial wounds.”

Marshall is an English teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy, and she hosts the poetry series with University of New Hampshire professor Reginald Wilburn.

“Poetry can give us a different take,” Marshall says. When she teaches poetry to her students, she wants them to think about where the poet is coming from culturally and historically. “What are the debates that the poets were having?”

Marshall would love people to read more poetry by Black authors, and she says the poetry in the “Black Matter is Life” series is a great place to start.

“I also hope folks take this opportunity to encourage a young Black poet in their own life,” Marshall says. “Read their works as well.”

Here is a small selection from the poems featured in the “Black Matter is Life” series that you can start with.

“Arachis Hypogaea” from the book “Carver” by Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson’s “Carver” reimagines the life of George Washington Carver, the agricultural scientist and inventor.

Courtney Marshall says this book shows how poets can explore the biographies of important figures.

“I grew up learning, ‘Oh, he was the guy who did all the things with the peanut’” she says. “Poetry can give us a different take on him.”

“Declaration” by Tracy K. Smith

“Declaration” is a blackout poem, meaning the poet removed words from an existing document to create a new text. Smith used the Declaration of Independence as an original text, removed words and phrases, and created a text that is both new and reflective of the original.

“I would love folks to read more Tracy K. Smith,” Marshall says of Smith, who was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019. “I got to see her in Manchester a few years ago. She’s another person that I would also encourage us to see and to read more.”

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NHPR | Black Matter is Life (Event)

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