Friday, January 16, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: Marjory Wentworth, SC’s Poet Laureate

Thanks to Irene at Live Your Poem for hosting Poetry Friday today!

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Happy (belated) New Year! I am jumping back into Poetry Friday today with a nod to SC’s Poet Laureate, Marjory Wentworth. If you haven’t already heard, this week during Governor Nikki Haley’s second inauguration, Ms. Wentworth was not allowed to read the poem she prepared for the occasion. A rep for Governor Haley cited “time constraints” as the reason. Since it is traditional for our Poet Laureate to write and present a poem for each gubernatorial inauguration, this has caused somewhat of an uproar here in South Carolina (and elsewhere).

Wentworth’s poem, “One River, One Boat,” is a beautiful and intelligent tribute to South Carolina’s unique and often tragic history. Acknowledging past mistakes doesn’t forgive them, but can help move us forward along the path toward healing and progress. But not allowing this voice to be heard pushes us backward a step, instead.

So please read Wentworth’s poem today. I am hoping that this omission will ultimately bring the poem to more readers than if it had been read at the inauguration—wouldn’t that be a happy irony? Wentworth has already been invited to read her poem at the SC NAACP chapter's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march this Monday, January 19th!
One River, One Boat                                                                                                    by Marjory Wentworth
I know there’s something better down the road.
-- Elizabeth Alexander

Because our history is a knot
we try to unravel, while others
try to tighten it, we tire easily
and fray the cords that bind us.

The cord is a slow moving river,
spiraling across the land
in a succession of S’s,
splintering near the sea.

To read the rest of Ms. Wentworth’s poem, click here. And tread more on this topic, check out these articles:
Have a wonderful holiday weekend! Happy Friday, and Happy Writing!

24 comments:

  1. Time constraints? Hogwash! What a shame that the powers-that-be chose to censor her words, which are timely, relevant, true, and desperately needed. With all this talk of freedom of expression, it is frustrating to hear that things like this are happening in our country. Also didn't like reading that as Poet Laureate, Wentworth hasn't been getting any support or respect from the current administration. It's a magnificent poem, and like you, I hope MORE people read it as a result of it being omitted from the inauguration.

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    1. "Hogwash" is the perfect word for this situation, Jama! I hope this makes them realize how important the arts in general are to the public. SC needs more poetry, music, and art!

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  2. Grrr. Reminds me of when the morning shows quit having the Newbery winning author on. The world NEEDS literature! Let's make it a priority. The Alabama Poet Laureate post, unfortunately, is barely a title. Sigh. We are the ones who can change all that! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Yes, we ARE the ones who can change things!

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  3. Becky, I am so glad that you brought out attention to this issue of a poet laureate being denied the delivery of her powerful poem. Perhaps, there is much more to the back story than time constraints. With all of the talk of racial injustice in this society, a poem to heal the wounds of time and history is of the utmost necessity. Let us, like the Congressman in the video, send this poem out into the world to a bend in the river that we need to take.

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    1. Oh, I am *sure* there is much more to this--there is always more to the story than what we hear. Hopefully they are regretting their decision now!

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  4. Becky,
    Keep sharing you own works too. You make a difference!

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  5. Thanks for sharing and giving yet another venue and voice for this amazing poem. I have been talking about the disgraceful and distasteful decision by the Haley administration for weeks now. It is indicative of Gov. Haley's overall attitude toward the Arts - especially in education. But the good news, I believe, is that through this dismissal of Wentworth from her party, more people have not only heard and read this great work, but they also are aware of what is of importance to the present administration.

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    1. I am hoping the same thing, Ann! I just did NOT understand this decision...

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  6. What an amazing poem! And how terrible for her not to have been allowed. You're right, if there is a silver lining, this might bring more attention to her poem. Thanks for sharing, Becky!

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  7. Wow! Marjory Wentworth is one brave and amazing woman. I love it that she quotes Elizabeth Alexander, who did get to read her poem at an inauguration. With you, I hope that the controversy brings Ms. Wentworth more readers.

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    1. Thank you, Ruth. She definitely deserves more readers!

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  8. It's tragic news, that a poet laureate would be conveniently "squeezed" out of reading the poem crafted for this event. Politics is a tangled web to catch people unaware that they are caught, I guess, until it's too late! Thanks for sharing the poem.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I agree--politics are often hard to untangle. Hopefully Haley's administration learned something from this.

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  9. OUTRAGEOUS! Thank you for giving her poem to us!

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  10. Thank you SO much for sharing Wentworth's poem, Becky! So important her words get read and shared.

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  11. That just pisses. me. off. Thank you for sharing, Becky, and for being one of brave ones.

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  12. Sorry to hear Ms. Wentworth wasn't allowed to read her poem at the event. Her piece sounds wonderful and hopefully more will get to read it. Thanks for letting us know about this, Becky.

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  13. What a shame indeed! There is ALWAYS always time for poetry. Good to hear about another opportunity for her to read this lovely poem.

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing this poem with us and the story about it. I really enjoyed it and it really powerful. I am sorry Ms. Wentworth wasn't able to read her poem at the even, but glad she was invited to read it at another important event. Thanks for sharing it with us! Beautiful writing and powerful words.
    ~Jess

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