Did you know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a poet? Most would be surprised to hear it, but people forget that speeches are in fact a form of poetry: littered with poetic devices like alliteration, rhythm, metaphor, simile and rhyme. Speech writers are storytellers of the ancient as they wrote beautiful lyrical stories that told of history, revelation, and aspiration. It’s sad to me today that when students read The Illiad or The Odyssey today, they often read it in prose. What a crime that would be to do the same to Shakespeare because the words matter; poetry matters. As we approach Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month, I want to remind everyone how important poetry is in our lives.
Two years ago after my grandmother died, my father failed me, I’d lost my job, my car, and the crew for my film, poetry is what inspired me to return back to the things I loved. I joined with some fellow poets and we planned a poetry touring festival called Poetrypalooza which will enter its third year in 2013. We had planned to turn a poem into a short film and the poetry was going to raise our funding; but that didn’t happen. Instead I found friendships, inspiration, and a voice I had never used. Poetry released my fears and brought me back to the things I loved most. Poetry has the power to do that. To change things; poetry can change your life.
Poetry is everywhere around us in songs, music, commercials, greetings cards, verse, sayings and rhymes. It is lyrical, political, inaugural. But people forget. People can become afraid because the power that can be accomplished by connecting words is limitless; it’s awesome. It is no accident that bible is written in verse. Poetry is close to divinity. When I surround myself with words, I am amazed at what I am able to achieve. Consider the power of repeating these four words over and over again: I have a dream. These are words we will never forget when we recall Dr. Martin Luther King.
Poetry Discovers will be ramping up for their programs for the spring, but don’t forget to reach out to us if your organization would like to host our Black History Month Words That Inspire Poetry Collage programs, one of our most popular programs.
Til then, consider this assignment. Choose 1 phrase from one of Martin Luther King’s speeches that you think can deeply affect you and put it some place in your home where you can see it everyday. Let the words seep into your consciousness and let those words have meaning. Let them be words that inspire you.
I Have a Dream Speech