Women’s words

by Kisha Tandy, Assistant Curator of Social History, and Bruce Williams, Director of Multicultural Audiences

“We went from the pyramids to the plantation; to the projects; and to the penitentiary,” were the choice words of Indy’s noted poetess Tasha Jones as she captured the audience’s attention last September during Hard Truth: (S)he Speaks Volumes at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I admit that I was definitely one of the many attendees sitting on the edge of my seat taking note of her every word. You see, Tasha plays the vocabulary like a fine tuned instrument speaking historical truths all while lyrically painting a picture of the world’s good and bad. SHE IS THE TRUTH!

Poetess Tasha Jones

Tasha demonstrates her tremendous respect for her elders through her spoken words. Her life’s thesis statement declares there is strength and power in Black history. She acknowledges the many disparities that continue to plague us today. She was not afraid to speak the truth—the hard truth.

As I was leaving the IMA, I thought to myself, “this is why I love poetry.” I appreciate those who can use the English language to move our souls with colorful verses and pulsating rhymes. Personally, I adore Indiana poet Mari Evans, who declared, “I am a Black Woman,” in her proclamation.

So from Hard Truths to Write On: Black Poets Rock, Tasha continues to share her meaningful words of encouragement and empowerment. Write On: Black Poets Rock will take place at the Indiana State Museum on Saturday, March 24 and Tasha will be ready to greet us with “Hello Beautiful” and take us on a spiritual journey with her magnificent instrument — spoken word. Joining her will be poets Januarie York, M’Reld Green, Sunni Patterson, Theresa tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D., Queen Sheba and GEORGIA ME. The day includes workshops for students, educators and anyone who loves wordplay and will conclude with a poetry slam.

You really don’t want to miss this free event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is our gift to you in celebration of National Women in History Month. While at the museum, please take the opportunity to visit the museum’s latest exhibition, REPRESENT: Celebrating Indiana’s African-American Artists.

Inspired by Nature

Photo by Alaina Carnahan

Photo by Alaina Carnahan

On Sept. 19, the day after the nature poetry program for students, poet Joyce Brinkman led a program for adults at the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site. Poets Gerard Manley Hopkins and, to a lesser extent, Mary Oliver were given as models for “inscape” or more than surface descriptions of nature. We were instructed to select an object and delve deep into its essence, using word combinations, even made-up words and internal rhyming. So these are not finished poems, but the beginning of poems.

Poplar Seed Pod by Steve Ferguson
Splotch-brown, mold-white stripes
Delicate grooves, banana-bruised
Densely pregnant
Ten Ten thousand trees
The breeze sighs and rising,
The babes to sprout, grow
Destiny fulfilled.

The Nursing Log by Martha Ferguson
You beckon me,
With slanted sun skimming you
As you sink into the soil.

Bright red in the sun, out of shady dark brown.

You’re cracked, perfect squares, rectangles.
All linear where once you were round
Invaded-insects, your only round now.

No long gray-barked, but green-mossed
No long standing, but supine
No longer green-leafed, but feeding tomorrow’s green.

In addition, Ball State University Professor Nancy Carlson talked about the writing process in creating her documentary, Gene Stratton-Porter: Voice of the Limberlost in 1996.

Thank you to Dr. Louis and Anne B. Schneider Foundation of Fort Wayne, Indiana for underwriting this workshop.

Martha Ferguson writes an unofficial blog about the gardens at Gene Stratton-Porter.

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