Poetic Responses to OYO

Mary Patten

Mary Patten – The Ways of White Folks

Last year Maggie Ginestra brought her poetry class from Moore College of Art & Design to visit the Organize Your Own exhibit at Kelly Writers House. The class looked at the artworks and were provided select poems from the Young Patriots Organization chapbook Time of the Phoenix. Below you’ll find the poems and an introduction from Ginestra:

The invitation to dive into Organize Your Own and emerge with poems was a juicy challenge – not just an ekphrastic exercise, but an opportunity for us to engage history and community where they meet poetry, which is all the time when seen through lenses (like OYO’s) that are dialed to our moments of making.

Before visiting the exhibit, we encountered materials shared with the contributing artists – several poems written by female Young Patriots for Time of the Phoenix (including some by organizer Peggy Terry) and a clip from American Revolution 2, in which Black Panther Bobby Lee roused the Young Patriots to greater self- determination. Many of us were surprised to find language and energy there that was so alive, immediate and exciting.

We walked to Kelly Writers House on February 11th, which turned out to be one of the coldest (and sunniest) days of winter in Philadelphia in 2016. We started out from Moore’s campus and followed the river. We might not have been bundled up enough to relax into our journey and our time in nature. We were very eager to arrive.

As poets, we had a few things on our mind. We’d been reading and practicing the spirit of Maxine Hong Kingston’s “To Be the Poet,” in which she suggests documenting an alternating rhythm of your seeing and your feeling as a way to show up to your now. Thus, our chilled bones and geographical disorientation were very much a part of our meeting with Organize Your Own.

We’d also been thinking about assignments and their inevitable effect on our presence in the moment – how they can help us to show up and also confound our capacity to show up. We read Dorothea Lasky’s mini-manifesto Poetry Is Not a Project and thought about how any loyalty to an idea of what to write might compromise our sharing of lived experience. But then we had many ideas in response to the layers of history and community we encountered at Kelly Writers House. Ideas that felt like living.

We hope we’ve collected our loyalties to living, and the spirit in which they emerged, in these poems, as a joyful and diverse response to the artworks and energies of Organize Your Own.

(Maggie Ginestra)

Student Poetry In Response to OYO 

  • Kaylie Minzola – Begin the Hunt
  • Sarah Bea McDade – Brotherhood
  • Geneva Champagne – Darkness 
  • Alexandra Mosoeanu – End of the Ways of the White Folks
  • Aidan Weiss – An Afternoon At Kelly Writer’s House
  • Colleen Durant – Woman. Working.
  • Sapientia Park – A day of reckoning
  • Shahada Mouzon – Organizing Humanity
  • Brittany Snyder  – Silent
  • Alissa Outwater – Stand
  • Pinky (Shaniyah C.) – Standing Still vs Moving Still
  • Kelly Fitzpatrick – Sweeteners
  • Rebecca Martin – This Place is Warm

Download the Poems Here!


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