Every February, America celebrates African-American History Month. This year is no exception. In order to honor the contributions of black people to American culture, science, industry and technology, we devote the shortest month of the year to black people… hey, at least it’s a month, and not just a week… or even a day, so…
Anyway, last Tuesday night, in celebration of African-American History Month, also known as February, the Bishkek Teahouse and Lounge on Boulder’s Broadway district added to its fine tea selection, a bucketful of Kool-Aid punch and hosted the first ever African-American Literary Weekend. There were recitals and readings of famous African American authors, discussions, writing symposia and to top it off, a poetry slam. One of the entrants, Laqueesha Jackson got a little carried away with poetry from Richard Wright, whom she thought was the early 20th Century African-American author and poet. That Richard Wright lived from 1908 to 1960 and was African American. Thing is, there was ANOTHER Richard Wright. This other (1943-2014) was British, and is best known for his role in the band Pink Floyd, writing such songs as Wearing the Inside Out, Remember a Day and others. While both wrote in the English language, each having a poetic command of the language, and each deserves his place in the canon of great English-language artists, they are not the same and should not be confused with each other.
That, Ms. Jackson learned the hard way when Ludwig Schnee pointed it out after she finished. “I totally didn’t realize I was reading something written by some dude from England! It was so real and shit.” Reading the lyrics from the Pink Floyd song “Wearing the Inside Out,” Ms. Jackson recited in slam-style, “From morning to night, I stayed out of sight! Didn’t recognize, I’d become… No more than alive, I barely survived. In a word, over-run.” Laqueesha later explained, “I thought that was a reference to [American] Richard Wright’s experience at being excluded on account of him having grown up in segregation in Mississippi and shit. Turns out, it’s just some sort of rambling from a white English guy.” She paused, ” At least the crowd liked it.”
To any poetry buffs out there, we would recommend “Between the World and Me” next time around.