Introduction – to Poet Dominique Christina

Having learned a lesson earlier, I hope to carry fewer coals to Newcastle in this introduction of the poet Dominique Christina.

The catalytic Dominique Christina, I might effuse.

But you will shortly write your own superlatives.
What, then, will suffice for me here?
A few instances, perhaps:

—OK, for instance, Dominique Christina didn’t begin, hadn’t thought of performing a poem until six-or-so years ago. She was writing poems—her first, best love. Then some-smart-one said, “Dominique, you should stand up and say these things.”

—for instance, what was she doing then but teaching English, to students with certain troubles who, but for the grace of Dom, were headed down and out, maybe away, maybe for good. A dozen years’ worth of alleged incorrigibles have leapt to her high bar, looked for her kindly lash, and got her good graces in the classroom.

—for instance, when regarding a stadium-full of high schoolers, like she did this week, she will not stir the sanctioned myths of sweetness and light, will not denigrate or prevaricate thereby. She will cut what matters, cut quickly to your matter. Hear me: Were you there, you would watch 800 embodied aspirants writhe, and recognize, and rise to their feet at her accurate beck and call.

—and for instance, you would watch them come boldly forward to meet their provocateur, to touch and hug her, and be hugged hard in return, and to take selfies—yes—

—and (for instance) what MAKES them crowd into the frame with this secret sharer, this slinger of dark-and-bright, is nothing like what compels a pic with Beyonce or Bruno. What is it that compels? It is what she tells them in words and non-words: “You are magnificent. The world needs you. And you gotta SHARE you.” For that we all get in line.

Jamnasium, I tell you (for final instance) that nobody I know of has better intuition, quicker reflex, agiler access to what must inflect a poem’s passage. Or to what will bring the cowed student to her feet, and then to the stage (by a reliable tug on the wrist, and arm round the shoulder blades), there to speak her own truths.

These rarities the slam world knows—she’s a champion five times over—

—and tonight, we will relish our own instance of this coalescing—of grace and impulse, of verve and conviction, of pith and moment.

Dominique, come now and read us your scripture.

-Delivered at the 2016 Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Dominique regaled 2600 students with this poem (“The Period Poem“), among others. You should click to it.

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