All roads led back to Button Poetry, it would seem. At least for me. When I first learned of the channel on YouTube, it introduced an entire world of new poets for me. Poets that might have gotten swept under rug for me. Poets that probably get swept under the rug for several people, actually. Because while their talent is obvious, poetry gets a bad rap. And I can spend a day and a half explaining why academia is a disservice to poetry, but that’s not the point of celebrating this month.
And while you’re at it, pick up copies for H. Melt’s work. Because honestly, their words are powerful and important to the conversation at large. Especially with the laws being passed and pushed in Florida, Texas and every red state. I haven’t been able to find any recordings of them reading their work (as of this writing).
I’ve known César Leonardo de León for a few years now. Not sure how we met, but I’m sure it was one of the many poetry readings we attended. His debut collection Speaking with Grackles by Soapberry Trees became an instant favorite when I read it earlier in the year.
There were moments where I recognize myself – parts of myself, anyway, – in his works. Poems like “Isabel,” “How to Play it Safe at a Texas BBQ,” and “El Mundo” spoke to the younger parts of me. Poems that would have helped me understand how words can break someone just as easily as actions of others could break me. I chose “El Mundo,” the first poem in the collection, as part of the National Poetry Month poster exhibit at the library.
I listened to Assata: An Autobiography for our March Get Lit! BOYBook Club – a decision I made after realizing that I couldn’t discuss Carolyn Cassady’s Off The Road in good faith for our Women’s Month-themed meeting. And I’m glad I did, because this was an excellent book to discuss to celebrate women, especially those within the BIPOC community.
Part of what I loved about this autobiography is how Shakur peppered her poetry within chapters. The poem recited in today’s video is called “Affirmation,” and it’s the opening poem to Shakur’s story.