Poetry Paints: Ekphrastic Writing

Join Semaj Brown, poet laureate of Flint, MI, and 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, for “Poetry Paints: Ekphrastic Writing," a collaboration with Flint’s Mott-Warsh Collection (Stephanie James, Director, Curator, and Collection Educator) and the students of Freeman Elementary, under the direction of Principal Anna Johnson, with technical support from Librarian Rebbeca Robertson.

“Poetry Paints: Ekphrastic Writing" will make its virtual debut on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. EST via Zoom. To view the summary of their collective voices, please visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2840424562 (Meeting ID: 284 0424562).

Ekphrastic writing is commentary on a work or works of visual art. The fifth and sixth grade students, guided by Brown, created a collaborative poem based on pieces in the private collection of fine art created by artists of the African diaspora and those who reflect on such. The poem drew special inspiration from Patron Saint of Middle Passengers by Mark Steven Greenfield. James and the Collection’s Gallery Assistant Janice McCoy were instrumental in this phase of P3, as were community partners Zeta Foundation-Flint, in alliance with chapter Zeta Beta Zeta of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. The Zetas will present the young creatives, now known as The Freeman Poets, with gifts, including writing implements, books from Brown’s Poet Laureate Library, Mott-Warsh-related materials, and a certificate of completion, reflecting their literary achievement.

An electronic summary of “Poetry Paints: Ekphrastic Writing,” which will include lessons, worksheets, an image of the artwork created by Greenfield from which the students worked, and the collaborative poems created during this project, is currently being compiled by Brown. She hopes to share it with other educators at the Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE) when she speaks at its 100th Anniversary luncheon as its keynote on October 14, 2022. A new volume of Brown’s poetry is slated for publication by Wayne State University Press by the close of this year.