It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment

In collaboration with the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the O.B. Hardison Poetry series will create a poetic mixtape in response to the exhibition It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope, and Empowerment.

In describing the exhibition the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame says, “musicians have responded in song and action to promote social justice and equality. What the world is seeing today, as injustices are called out and protesters are finding their voices, is not new. And neither are the musical responses - words and music and passion converging to create something much bigger that cuts deep into the rage, gives hope and radiates empowerment.”

A panel of poets will explore through their own poetry, the words of empowerment embedded in the historic musical legacy of such artists as Public Enemy, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown.

The reading will begin with a pop-up exhibition of rare items from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and will be followed by a moderated conversation with questions from those in attendance.

About the Exhibition
In every generation, Black rock and roll artists have elevated the conversation about race, equality, justice, and peace. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2020 exhibition It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment shows how musical artists have channeled the power of rock & roll to respond to racism from the roots of rock to today.

Reuben Jackson is the author of the poetry collections fingering the keys and Scattered Clouds. Jackson served as curator of the Smithsonian’s Duke Ellington Collection in Washington, D.C. for over twenty years. His music reviews have been published in the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Jazz Times, and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Jackson is also an educator and mentor with The Young Writers Project. He taught poetry for 11 years at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland and taught high school for two years in Burlington, Vermont. He is also a founding member of the New Music-Theatre workshop and currently works for the organization as a librettist. His poems have been published in over 40 anthologies; his first volume is fingering the keys, which Joseph Brodsky picked for the Columbia Book Award. Reuben Jackson is currently an archivist with the University of the District of Columbia’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. From 2013 until 2018, he was host of Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio.

Ashley M. Jones holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. She was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, POETRY, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, she co-directs PEN Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival.

Patricia Spears Jones is the author of the poetry collections PainkillerFemme du Monde, and The Weather That Kills. Her fourth and most recent collection is A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems which features her 2016 Pushcart Prize winning poem, “Etta James at the Audubon Ballroom.” She was a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the Paterson Prize from the Passaic County Community College. Her work is widely anthologized. In 2015 she received a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund award for her memoir in progress. Patricia Spears Jones is the recipient of The Jackson Poetry Prize, one the most prestigious awards for American Poets via Poets & Writers, Inc.