Sassafrass: A Celebration of the Genius of Ntozake Shange, a Review

On October 19, 2012 Sassafrass: A Celebration of the Genius of Ntozake Shange took place at African Voices Magazine. The concept was for poets, writers and all lovers of the works of Ntozake Shange to gather for a celebration of her words. The evening was hosted by Poets Lorenza Collins, Lorraine Currelley and Ekere Tallie.

An opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge Ms. Shange and her contributions to the world of literature. To share her works with each other, uniting our collective thoughts and memories.

Along with reading Ntozake Shange’s words poet Robert Gibbons shared his poem A Sassafrass written for Ntozake Shange. Poet Lorraine Currelley shared her reflections of For Colored Girls and its impact on the poet, women and society as a whole.
Entering the reading area participating audience members and readers were met with ceiling mobiles of the books of Ntozake Shange. There was also a lovely exhibit of her books. Prior to and after the reading everyone enjoyed a table of organic beverages and delicious cupcakes baked by poet Lorenza Collins.
This was a grassroots comfortable gathering, attended by both adults and children.  Formality was left at the door. There was  the feeling of being at home and family and  friends stopped by for a visit. Old friends greeted each other and those meeting for the first time became new friends.

Each poet’s reading was powerful, dynamic and filled with emotion. Clearly the love of Ntozake Shange illuminated the room.

Participating poets were Tai Allen,  Asia, Lorenza Collins, Lorraine Currelley, Robert Gibbons,  Shani Jamilia, Stephanie Kelly and Ekere Tallie.

A Celebration of the Genius of Ntozake Shange was an innovative concept and success. Both audience members and participating poets shared a desire to support and participate in future events. Thank you, Carolyn Butts for donating African Voices Magazine home and your continued support.
© Lorraine Currelley 2012. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.

2 thoughts on “Sassafrass: A Celebration of the Genius of Ntozake Shange, a Review

  1. Robert Gibbons has written an incredibly beautiful, haunting, loving and powerful poem. A poem filled with vivid images and memories. A poem uncompromising in its herstorical woman and Robert truths. These, this woman are the women I grew up with and know. Women who raised and loved me.

  2. this is awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening with special friends. I can’t wait to do it again. Thanks so much Lorraine for inviting me. I am posting the poem I wrote because the evening was so special to me.

    a sassafras
    (for Ntozake Shange)

    could not see out my window into the dark night
    into the latitudes and the parallels, but could see
    the spiritual and the perpetual; could see all
    those church services, all that time spent
    on twelve street like a beating of the drum;
    all those women that prayed for me at the altar;
    made of cloth filled my mouth with potato salad
    and the last of the fruit punch; told me how
    and how not and when and why not; those
    that made and cared with strips of shiny pinks
    and royal blues; it did not matter your background
    if it’s Sunday, then it was a hat that matches her shoes,
    it was all made by them, small pieces of cloth
    left the time when I needed white pants for the parade
    and embarrassed because it was above my ankles
    and the other kids joked me for high waters and big
    feet; momma told me, “you are growing so stop
    crying,” “you are getting older” and they molded my
    thinking and my stature, the women who
    went to church, the ones hurt behind handkerchiefs;
    left dirt at the altars of their beds and kept cooking;
    kept staying, kept raising us from the fruit of the land
    and I come back to immortal in this portal of a window
    far away as if I am dreaming, but I am awake;
    I can see only dark until morning when I rise

    who would have cooked for me and how would I
    remember this because the food was always on
    the table everyday at five until we sat down and she
    went to church; she was our table cloth and able
    made of wrought iron steal; it was the church and
    back home and wait for our lateness; our unforgiving
    of being holy; we despised the design; we tried to find
    sin, but there was none; she would leave us seven times
    before she left Jesus, but it took all these years to believe
    that she was right and we were wrong all I know is the cloth
    that remains with me as quilt I can still smell it’s like guilt.

    Robert Gibbons, in honor Ntozake Shange’s birthday, October 2012, New York City.

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