Introduction – to Aja Monet and Elizabeth Acevedo

A highlight from this festival is an event that only I and Dr. Blaise Allen get to witness—which is when, in sequence, two poets step to a lone mic in front of a thousand sullen students—and read, and perform.

I could have said, “perform magic,” seeing as how these poets can turn student rabbits into rabid tigers.

—or maybe said “perform surgery,” on account of how these two stand up to stimulate the internal organs of empathy and recognition and resolve.

Is it too soon in my intro for all this?—to say these two poets perform a thousand acts of justice and mercy and salubrious upbraiding—in high schools?

Well, that is what they do—to those “thousand sullen students.”
They perform, they perféct, they deliver, they detonate certain time lapse detonations.

They make, of those students, a thousand splendid suns.

I said “two poets.” It’s true I could have said “raconteurs, rhapsodists, scops, bards, balladeers.” I say again: two poets, who assess from the page, and arrest from the stage, with throat & tongue, and timbre & timing & gesture—in form and moving. How express and admirable.

I say móre: the just poet justices; keeps grace—with sass; vibe; sauce.

I said we “get to witness.” I could have said we “get in the midst of”—“get mixed up in”—because to engage their poetry with eyes & ears is to engage it with skin, and follicle, and capillary. Even tear duct.

As I have seen, and you will shortly know.

Please welcome them to our stage.

-Delivered at the 2018 Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Aja Monet (above left; her poem “The First Time” is here) and Elizabeth Acevedo (above right; her poem “Hair” is here), brought brilliance to schools and the festival stage.

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