Poetry is a powerful vehicle for celebrating and sharing our personal narratives. This April we’re joining Minneapolis-based Milkweed Editions and other independent booksellers across the state to commemorate the fusion of art and history. We’re inviting poets of all ages and experience levels to share their favorites –published or original– during our first annual Poem in Your Pocket Day open-mic event. For inspiration, here’s “Bemidji Blues” by Sean Hill:
For Arnold Rampersad
Shadows bluing the snow, the pines’ and mine,
bear the cast of a kestrel’s blue-gray crown
I note as I find my way about this town.
Blues here more likely the Nordic-eyes kind
than the blue-black of some Black folk back home.
Here so many lakes reflect the sky’s blue dome;
some summer days skimmed-milk blue tints windblown
whitecaps. Blue’s an adjective, verb, and noun,
and the color of the world when I pine
because she’s gone leaving too much wine and time.
Blue shadows on the snow, mine and the pines’.
For a tall man, blue ox, and now me, home
is Bemidji, though the blues here around
more the cast of a kestrel’s blue-gray crown
than the blue-black of my cousins back home.
Those unable to attend can still participate in our month-long celebration by posting a haiku on social media using the hashtag #HistoryHaikuBCHS. Post yours on Twitter and tag @BeltramiHistory for a chance to be featured in an upcoming podcast episode and/or the next issue of our newsletter. As a reminder, haikus are a Japanese poetry form consisting of a 5-syllable line, followed by a 7-syllable line, followed by another 5-syllable line.
For more information about using poems to tell your family history, check out “Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration” at www.milkweed.org/poetry-coalition.