Young Poets Society enlightens African American youth

Florida A&M University hosted its third annual Younger Poets Series this Friday. This year’s guests included Morgan Parker and Nate Marshall.

The Younger Poets Series helps promote the importance of arts and humanities in an age where science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are heavily pushed in the realm of education.

Kristine Snodgrass, the curator of the event and assistant professor at FAMU, thinks these events are imperative for well-roundedness, as well as to help evolve the artistic culture of this generation.

“They are younger poets who are a very important piece to the overall poetry culture and movement that is happening now, and in order to be a university student and well rounded, you need to be aware of any artistic movement that’s going on,” Snodgrass said.

Parker is the author of “Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night” which won a Gatewood Prize, “Textual Encounters”, “No-Friction”, “Sick Day”, “Violence and Violets”, “1986’, and “There Are More Beautiful things than Beyoncé”.

Marshall is a visiting assistant professor of English at Wabash College, a member of the poetry collective Dark Noise, and a rapper. He is coeditor of “The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.” He is also the author of “Blood Percussion,” “Wild Hundreds,” and “1989 The Number.”

Marshall believes that his work impacts the lives of young African Americans, particularly males because it gives them a way to see that it can be done and it’s ok to feel emotion in a world where men are taught that emotion is often considered feminine.

“We’re often trained to not be emotive and to not have full access to our emotional lives, so I hope that the work does two things: number one, tells them that oh yeah, you’re angry about this, you’re frustrated, you’re not crazy for that anger, but number two, you also have a full access to the entire range of human emotions that you don’t have to sort of perform in whatever ways that the world expects of you; that you can be vulnerable,” Marshall said.

With representation from both sexes, Yolanda J. Franklin, assistant professor at Florida State University, feels as though Parker helps give a voice to one that is extremely marginalized: the African American woman.

As Franklin puts it, “Morgan Parker is showing that the voice, her voice, our voices as black females, as artists, as women are important and need to be heard and that they’re not heard.”

Being young poets, Parker and Marshall help influence the generation of poets that are rising in today’s generation. Sabrina Digorge, a junior digital media production, and creative writing student feels that they influenced her in a way that helps her grow to become a better writer.

“It made me want to strive to be way better, and work way harder,” Digorge said.

Katie Davis, a junior creative writing major, feels as though she connected with Parker as a woman, showing her a new way of looking at how she can create and perfect her craft.

“Hearing her voice talk about those things, it’s like, okay, let me try and put some of these ideas I relate to, in my own words,” Davis said.

The Younger Poets series shows that poetry is, in fact, important and offers a way for individuals to see things in a different way and feel something they couldn’t feel otherwise.

As Davis puts it, “I think poetry is one of the few fields that makes us have to go deeper into ourselves. When we read a poem, we’re kind of forced to examine an emotional part of ourselves and this society prefers us to be apathetic and be detached from our emotional side, and poetry forces us to go into that side and I think we need to, it’s healthy.”