• Title

  • Poet Lynne Thompson to read Nov. 18 for Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire Series

    This press release is not from the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, it is from the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, and being shared by the Chamber.

    The Black Matter is Life:  Poetry for Engagement and Overcoming

    Virtual Poetry Readings, Discussions & Community Poem Project


    PORTSMOUTH—A stellar lineup of guest poets will read in the upcoming new virtual winter series of public conversations presented by the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH) entitled “The Black Matter is Life: Poetry for Engagement and Overcoming.” 

    Lynne Thompson, featured in upcoming 2020’s America’s Best Poetry, will lead off the series on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m., Patricia Smith, poet, spoken-word performer, playwright, author, writing teacher - “a testament to the power of words to change lives” - will follow Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m., and the series will culminate with Jericho Brown, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, American Book Award Winner, on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2021 at 5pm. 

    According to JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of BHTNH, “We are thrilled to feature these three top American poets in our new series. They each exemplify in their work why poetry is such a powerful art form, one that offers profound insights into what it means to be human.

    "Through the creative, succinct, and melodious use of language, poets render into words their joys, their challenges, their vulnerabilities, and their discoveries, thus providing shape and meaning to the human connection and shared emotional experience. In the wake of our nation’s current unrest, this program is designed to build bridges across the racial divide by introducing the audience to the writings of a number of African American poets whose work has shone a light on a rich cultural heritage that has often gone unexplored.

    "This program asks the audience to consider how African American poetry provides tools for healing our nation’s deep racial wounds.”

    About the Poetry Series

    To begin this exploration of the vast diversity within African American poetic tradition, UNH professors Dr. Reginald A. Wilburn and Dr. Dennis Britton will facilitate three online conversations across three regions of New Hampshire once a month in November, December, and January, which will be augmented by a Community Poem Project sponsored respectively by the Rye Public Library, the Keene Public Library, and the Nashua Public Library. Each discussion will take a close look at poems within the context of African American literary tradition, the cultural heritage and surroundings the traditions have encompassed, and the relevance this tradition has to us today. In short, “Why African American Poetry Matters?”

    Wednesday, Nov. 18, 5 p.m.

    “Signifyin(g) on a Tradition”

    Lynne Thompson - Guest Poet

    ·  Phillis Wheatley—Imagination

    ·  Lawrence Dunbar—When Malindy Sings

    ·  Langston Hughes—Harlem & Theme for English B

    ·  Sonia Sanchez—Haiku and Tanka for Harriet Tubman

    ·  Community Collaborative Poem Partner, Rye Public Library

    Wednesday, Dec. 9, 5 p.m.

    “In Protest”

    Patricia Smith - Guest Poet

    ·  James Weldon Johnson—The Creation

    ·  Audre Lorde—Litany for Survival

    ·  Danez Smith—dear white america

    ·  Community Collaborative Poem Partner, Keene Public Library

    January 2021 | Thursday, Jan. 21 | 5 p.m.

    “Love, Love, Love”

    Jericho Brown - Guest Poet 

    ·  George Moses Horton—The Lover’s Farewell

    ·  Gwendolyn Brooks—Lovely Love

    ·  Nikki Giovanni—Resignation

    ·  Jericho Brown—Like Father

    ·  Community Collaborative Poem Partner, Nashua Public Library. 

    About the Community Collaborative Poem Project

    The Black Matter is Life: Poetry for Engagement and Overcoming program will also offer the community an opportunity to come together to create a twelve-line poem. We are inviting community members to write a group poem inspired by one of the four poems selected for discussion at the events. A community is defined as a family, a group of friends, a library or school staff, town employees, and a collection of individuals. We also welcome “communities” of one—you write all 12 lines. Go for it! A reading of the collaborative poem will conclude each event. This community engagement program will run concurrently with this program.

    For information on this component of the program contact info@blackheritagetrailnh.org

    Bios: Guest Poets 

    For Nov. 18 - Lynne Thompson is the author of Start With a Small Guitar (What Books Press) and Beg No Pardon, winner of the Perugia Book Award and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award. In 2018, Jane Hirshfield selected her manuscript Fretwork (2019) as the winner of the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize. Thompson is the recipient of multiple awards among them an Individual Art Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles, a Tucson Literary Award, and a finalist nod from the Derricotte-Eady Chapbook Prize. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, december, and 2020’s Best American Poetry. Thompson serves on the Boards of Cave Canem and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and is Chair of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Scripps College.


    For Dec. 9 - Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She is the author of seven books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (2017), winner of an NAACP Image Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (2008), a chronicle of the human and environmental cost of Hurricane Katrina which was nominated for a National Book Award; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a 2005 National Poetry Series selection published by Coffee House Press. Smith collaborated with the photographer Michael Abramson on the book Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust on Chicago’s South Side From the Seventies (2015). Her work has appeared in Poetry magazine, the Paris Review, the New York Times, TriQuarterly, Tin House, the Washington Post, and in both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays. Her contribution to the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir, which she edited, won the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best debut story of the year and was chosen for Best American Mystery Stories 2013. Smith also penned the critically acclaimed history Africans in America (1999) and the award-winning children’s book Janna and the Kings (2003). She is a 2014 Guggenheim fellow, a 2012 fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo, a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, recipient of a Lannan fellowship and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. She is currently working on a biography of Harriet Tubman, a poetry volume combining text and 19th century African-American photos, and a collaborative novel with her husband Bruce DeSilva, the Edgar-Award winning author of the Liam Mulligan crime novels.


    For January 2021  - Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019), which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Time, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry anthologies. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.

    About the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire

    New Hampshire has an African heritage that dates back almost to the arrival of Europeans. Much of that history centers on the state’s only port at Portsmouth, where the first known (enslaved) black person was brought from Guinea, West Africa in 1645. As many as 700 blacks were here by the Revolution, many were caught up in an active Northern slave market while others were part of a little-known free society. Against the odds of early enslavement and subsequent marginalization, Africans and their descendants built communities and families, founded institutions, and served their town, state and nation in many capacities. The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is a 501c3 nonprofit founded in 2016 to promote awareness and appreciation of African American history and life in order to build more inclusive communities today. It presents signature events timed to the seasons -Spring Symposium, Sankofa Summer Walking Tours, Juneteenth Celebration, Frederick Douglass Community Readings, Black New England Conference each fall, and Winter Tea Talks. With recent events, this mission is more important now than ever. For more information, please call 603-570-8469 or visit www.BlackHeritageTrailNH.org