Today my college held an African-American Literature Read-In event. My poetry professor offered extra credit to anyone who wanted to attend the event and then write a review of it but the truth is that I was planning on going even before she made that offer. And I have to tell you, I am very glad that I did. It was a great event. I read Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” and then by listening to the other readers, I got introduced to some great literature.
Some of my favorite moments of the day were:
– Excerpts from a letter written by Jordan Anderson, a former slave, in response to his former master’s request that Jordan come back and work for him again. A quick look around the internet found this information about what happened to Jordan and the Anderson family after the letter was written.
– A reading of Langston Hughes’s Theme for English B which I really enjoyed
But the highlight of the day was a reading of Daniel Beaty’s “Knock Knock”. The reader gave a powerful and emotional rendition but I found this video of Daniel Beaty reciting it and it just gives me chills.
There was a lot of stuff read that I had read before and was familiar with. There were selections read from Jean Toomer’s Cane and an except from Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues” (both of which I read last year in my Short Story class last semester) and I wasn’t the only one who read a Maya Angelou poem. But what I really enjoyed was being exposed to the things like “Knock, Knock” that I hadn’t come into contact with before and might not have ever been introduced to in the course of my education if not for this event. If and when I actually become an English teacher, I will be a better teacher for having this exposure than I would have without it.