Journey of Our Half-Century PoetShip
by Eugene B. Redmond
O Nightstar, ankhor’d in Clarity of memwar,
you jazzed Knights of Etheridge. Pruned Gwen
& Joanne’s “furious flowers.” Laid Eyes on
Zora pre-casting Oprah’s. “Renewed” slavery-mangled
loves “look[ing] on” you, as I staged
your words – & Dumas’ – in Baton Rouge,
Harlem, Sacramento, Lagos & East Saint Louis.
Poet-composer-playwright-critic Mari Evans Phemster was funeralized March 21, 2017, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Participants included poet-friends Sonia Sanchez, Haki R. Madhubuti and Joanne V. Gabbin, pastors, choir members, Carl Himes’ jazzers and the brilliant “souloist” Vicki Daniels. Among poets and publishers attending: Angela Jackson, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Wade and Cheryl Hudson, y’all’s truly. Like her friend, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), Mari’s output preceded the Black Arts Movement, though many of her titles and themes – like “I Am a Black Woman” – became anthems of BAM.
Eugene B. Redmond, poet laureate of East St. Louis, emeritus professor of English at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and author of the best-selling book, “Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry,” the posthumously published works of Henry Dumas and 25 volumes of poetry, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.