Maplewood’s Black Lives Matter Poetry Project was officially unveiled on Saturday.
The project features a rich assemblage of 38 poems by American Black poets that are installed throughout Maplewood’s shared spaces, including business districts, pedestrian thoroughfares as well as parks. The poems are printed on large banners.
“As part of our public landscape, these poems are meant as points of reflection, to help us consider what it means to be free in the face of oppression,” according to a press release. Poems by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Ross Gay, Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton, Jericho Brown, Rita Dove, Tracy K. Smith, Elizabeth Alexander, Amanda Gorman, and other internationally acclaimed writers hang next to the work of 13 vastly talented local poets, including teachers and students.
The project, a creation of the Maplewood Arts Council, aims to celebrate and shine a light on the words of Black poets. “We felt strongly about responding to the death of George Floyd and so many others by using public art,” said Marcy Thompson, co-founder and Chair of the Arts Council. “At this moment when the world seems challenged both articulating through language, and truly listening, we decided that poetry should be our medium. The particular power of poetry is to distill language to help us arrive at a deeper understanding and a powerful feeling of resonance.”
Photos credit Ana de Archuleta