Poetry Feed

Donovan Livingston's Spoken Word Convocation Speech at Harvard is a Classic

Enjoy this speech, in video and text, by Donovan Livingston, Ed.M.'16, student speaker at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 Convocation exercises. Instead of a traditional speech, he chose to communicate via spoken word and he is awesome. 

Donovan Lingston

 

Lift Off

 

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin,

is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” – Horace Mann, 1848.

At the time of his remarks I couldn’t read — I couldn’t write.

Any attempt to do so, punishable by death.

For generations we have known of knowledge’s infinite power.

Yet somehow, we have never questioned the keeper of the keys —

The guardians of information.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering

In this order of operations — a heinous miscalculation of reality.

For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.

How many times must we be made to feel like quotas —

Like tokens in coined phrases? —

“Diversity. Inclusion.”

There are days I feel like one, like only —

A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.

But, hey, I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.

 

Disruptive. Talkative. A distraction.

With a passion that transcends the confines of my own consciousness —

Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards.

I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain,

With veins pumping revolution.

I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.

I am a DREAM Act, Dream Deferred incarnate.

And a movement – an amalgam of memories America would care to forget

My past, alone won’t allow me to sit still.

So my body, like my mind

Cannot be contained.

 

As educators, rather than raising your voices

Over the rustling of our chains,

Take them off. Un-cuff us.

Unencumbered by the lumbering weight

Of poverty and privilege,

Policy and ignorance.

 

I was in the 7th grade, when Ms. Parker told me,

“Donovan, we can put all of  your excess energy to good use!”

And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice.

She gave me a stage. A platform.

She told me that our stories are the ladders

That make it easier for us to touch the stars.

So climb and grab them.

Keep climbing. Grab them.

Spill your emotions in the big dipper and pour out your soul.

Light up the world with your luminous allure.

 

To educate requires Galileo-like patience.

Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.

If you take the time to connect the dots,

You can plot the true shape of their genius —

Shining in their darkest hour.

 

I look each of my students in the eyes,

And see the same light that aligned Orion’s Belt

And the pyramids of Giza.

I see the same twinkle

That guided Harriet to freedom.

I see them. Beneath their masks and their mischief,

Exists an authentic frustration;

An enslavement to your standardized assessments.

 

At the core, none of us were meant to be common.

We were born to be comets,

Darting across space and time —

Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.

A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened right here —

An indelible impact that shook up the world.

Are we not astronomers — searching for the next shooting star?

I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —

Tribulations into telescopes,

So a child can see their true potential from right where they stand.

An injustice is telling them they are stars

Without acknowledging the night that surrounds them.

Injustice is telling them education is the key

While you continue to change the locks.

 

Education is no equalizer —

Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.

So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices

Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.

Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.

I’ve been the Black hole in a classroom for far too long;

Absorbing everything, without allowing my light to escape.

But those days are done. I belong among the stars.

And so do you. And so do they.

Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness

For generations to come.

So no — no, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.

Lift off.

 

~ Donovan Livingston

 

 

 

 


My Christmas Poem

Today

We celebrate

the miracle

of the birth of

Jesus Christ.

 

That's it.

 

Amen.


How I’m Feeling…

The poem below was forwarded to me by a friend. I really needed it; perhaps it can help you also. Enjoy.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the
 people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who
 don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you  
 get a second chance, grab it with both hands.  If it  
  changes your life, let it.  Nobody said life would be easy,  
  they just promised it would be worth it.


cherish each day

you never know when

will be the last time

to hug

to smell

to feel

to love someone

 

cherish each day

you never know so

say i love you

each day

all day

as long as it's sincere

 

cherish each day

hugs

kisses

and touches

are only memories

when we're gone

 

don't waste time

on anger

hatred

jealousy

bitterness

prejudice

 

cherish each day

live each day

as if

it may be

your last

time

seeing

hearing

feeling

touching

loving

 

because

it may

 

i love you

 

© 2007, VANESSA BYERS


Thought for the Day: Be Who You Must Be

Be Who You Must Be 

Diarmuid Cronin

I don’t know where you are on your path
I have never stood in your shoes
I see not with your eyes.
I know not what your purpose is here
In this stage of your evolution
But I feel blessed to know you
As you are not in my life by chance
And you are my teacher
As I hope you learn from me
I pray I show reverence to you
I pray not to judge you
I wish to let you be
Who you are
Who you dream of being
I will just be beside you
And watch you grow
And the day will come for sure
When we will know why
Our paths crossed this way
And until then my friend
Be who you must be


Before the Tragedy at Virginia Tech, She Was Ego Tripping

Ngwiglassesbw_2 The murder of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech (VT) is still fresh in minds and hearts of many in the United States. The pain and magnitude of the loss of life is not likely to be forgotten anytime soon. As the tragedy unfolded and the analysis of events were broadcast by the media, the world was either introduced or re-introduced to VT English professor, Nikki Giovanni.

During the Black Power/Anti-War movements of the sixties and seventies, Nikki Giovanni was one of the world's most prolific poets. There was something about her and her spirit that hypnotized and mesmerized. I remember that I wasn't supposed to read her poems because some of them contained "bad words". I remember her speaking about having her son, Tommy, out of wedlock, intentionally, she was awesome and different.

Before spoken word and poetry slams of today, there was Nikki Giovanni and here is one of my favorite Nikki Giovanni poems...

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
    the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
    that only glows every one hundred years falls
    into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
    drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
    to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
    the tears from my birth pains
    created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
    out the sahara desert
    with a packet of goat's meat
    and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
    so swift you can't catch me

    For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
    He gave me rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
    as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
    jesus
    men intone my loving name
    All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
    the filings from my fingernails are
    semi-precious jewels
    On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
    the earth as I went
    The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
    across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean...I...can fly
    like a bird in the sky...

Bio

Official Website

Books

Music

Other Nikki Giovanni Poems You May Like


One of my favorite poems

This is one of my favorite poems. I have seen it on the internet in various forms, sometimes with minor revisions and claimed by others.

I saw it first in a September 1975 edition of Essence magazine. It was intentionally in all caps when it was originally printed. Remember that 1975 was way before nettiquette existed. LOL

The same page also contains another powerful poem titled, “I MADE IT THROUGH THIS WEEKEND WITHOUT YOU”; I will share it with you another time. In the meantime, enjoy.

WATER OF YOUR BATH

I wish I could be the water of you bath I would surround you with mellow warmth liquid lovelike a frolicking/childish wave on the sandy shoreI would dash and break upon the firmness of your bodyengulf and moisten the places I dream of

If
I
were
the water of your bath
I would memorize
each and every muscle
and being liquid
I would take your shapemold myself to your every curve
your every indentationI would roll on/over/and off your satin skin

If
I
were
the water of your bath
I would send part of me
to gather in the recess
of your navel
there my temperature would rise to match yours
and like plants of
the sea
I would move your body hairs
in and out with the tide
created by your movements
playfully
i would slosh against your
thighs
and become very intimate
with your nature

If
I
were
the water of your bath
i would cleanse you
as my ancestors
the nile & congo
cleansed your ancestors
but
even more
when you leave me and
pull the plugI would defy the natural order of things
and stay and wait
for your naked return

© Ahmasi 1971


© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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It's Time

if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we got.
it’s time for a revolution.
it’s time for an evolution.

a minority controlling the majority ain’t never been right.
a majority living in fear can’t never win the fight.
can’t win the fight, the battle or the war.
too many pimps and whores behind every door
to power and access to our own dollars.

too many sellouts.
always with their hands out.
ain't no need to scream and shout
'cause we know what it's all about.
need to get them the hell out.

if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we got.
it’s time for a revolution.
it’s time for an evolution.

take the red pill. wake up.
take the red pill. shake up.
government by the people, for the people.
free yourself.
be yourself.
think.
act.
be proactive.
act up.
shake up.
wake up.

if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we got.
it’s time for a revolution.
it’s time for an evolution.
too many poor people in a country so rich.
too many children dying and living in filth.
hurricanes expose the lie.
corporations getting richer while soldiers die.
selling poison in our neighborhoods.
who’s really protecting who?

think.
vote.
with your ballot and your bucks.

if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we got.
it’s time for a revolution.
it’s time for an evolution.
it’s time to expose all the pimps, whores and sellouts.
it’s time for a revolution.
it’s time for an evolution.
wake up.
it’s time.

--- Vanessa Byers (2005-11-26)

© 2005 VANESSA BYERS

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Everyday Thanksgiving

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, thank You, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.

Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank You, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.

Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising, thank You, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, thanks when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, and my children are so loud. Thank You, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.

Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, thank You, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.

Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous, thank You, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.

Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank You, Lord, for life.

--Author unknown

© 2005 VANESSA BYERS

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