Poetry lovers filled to standing room BRIC House’s performance space last week for the Stoop Series event “We Be Darker Than Blue.” Performance poet Mahogany L. Browne guided a full program of word-art which culminating with featured guest Sonia Sanchez.
There were many openers.
Before the poetry, Dr. Chip Thomas, and local artist, filmmaker and poet Jess X Chen briefly discussed their mural collaborations in Kingston, New York and the Navaho Nation, Arizona.
A new collaborative mural by the two, installed at BRIC, was inaugurated that evening.
Inspired by Frida Kahlo’s “Two Fridas,” the mural portrays a poetic sisterhood spanning two generations of Black woman.
Peering from behind BRIC’s ground floor café counter is the image of Sonia Sanchez, pen in one hand, holding with the other, the hand of poet Mahogany L. Browne who holds a copy of Sanchez’s book of poems “I’ve Been A Woman.” A ring of light, like religious iconography, frames the subjects’ faces.
Photographer Thomas was also moved by the documentary “BadDDD Sonia Sanchez,” upon seeing Sonia’s old notebooks in which she wrote and edited poems.
Both a doctor to the Navaho and a photographer, Thomas is inspired by French artist JR whose supersize black and white photo murals – sometimes many stories high — have appeared and for several recent years intrigued New Yorkers.
Dr. Thomas has covered the walls of 20 structures in the Arizona desert — homes, abandoned buildings, and roadside stands with his own local-imaged supersize photos.
The theme of the community open mic poetry evening was “Intergenerational Black Sisterhood.” Accompanied by her creative partner DJ Jive Poetic, Browne introduced several local female poets who read, as well as Browne and poet / visual artist Jess X Chen.
From Philadelphia, special performing guest spoken word artist Ursula Rucker used Philly soul, hip-hop, and new jazz as she combined social awareness with womanhood, black culture, and love. Physically engaging the audience — with a bit of coaching — she got them to “keep the beat” as she performed.
Ending the high-energy evening, Sanchez graced the performance space. She started with a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks from “SOS-Calling all Black People, a Black Arts Reader,” an anthology that Sanchez co-edited. She then performed poems from her own collections “Shake Loose My Skin” and “Homegirls with Handgrenades.”
This event is part of BRIC’s free monthly poetry slam series hosted by Mahogany L. Browne with Brooklyn-based poets who respond to city culture and national issues. The next two slams at BRIC are March 2 and April 6.
It was also part of BRIC’s free weekly Stoop Series — every Tuesday — of artistic performances, presentations, participatory activities and conversations exploring music, visual art, film, media, storytelling, and comedy.
“Join us on the stoop for free, drop-in programming, Tuesday nights at 7 pm” reads BRIC’s hand-out. BRIC House is at 647 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place.
Upcoming events at BRIC: 3/1, Gallim Dance; 3/8 Drink & Draw with House of Larreon; 3/15 New Music/Old Science (Anatomy Theater); 3/22 Question Bridge w/ Bayete Ross Smith; 3/29 Breaking the Glass Ceiling: A Conversation with Women Executives in the Music Industry; 4/5 Kavita Shah.