Events & Tickets

I Dream a World festival

Noir Reverberations: A Night of the Music and Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance and Beyond

Pre-Concert Poetry Readings

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 6:30 PM
New World Center, Truist Pavilion

As part of the I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, O, Miami led a series of intensive workshops to students at five Miami-Dade schools, from elementary to high school levels: Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School, Miami Norland Senior High, Morningside K-8 Academy, The SEED School of Miami and St. Mary’s Cathedral School. The workshops were led by teaching artists Gabrielle Alexis, Darius Daughtry, Arsimmer McCoy and Marnino Toussaint and focused on the importance of song as both subject and formal approach in Black American poetry, beginning with iconic poems from the Harlem Renaissance, and tracing forward to contemporary Black poets’ work in the ode form. These same teaching artists now present their own poetry, and a few choice verses from the students, at a reading preceding the Noir Reverberations performance. 

I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond is made possible with support from the NWS Collaborations Fund, the NWS Fund for New Ventures, Dr. Matthew Budd and Ms. Rosalind E. Gorin, The Robert and Jane Toll Foundation, Keith and Renata Ward Family Fund at The Miami Foundation, and Bank of America.

Click on the poem title below to expand its text.

    I've been trying to write a poem that I can say
Without making someone squirm
So I wrote about how everything is okay
Erased the in slaving me
Traded in the Trade
and slave ships
and ish and the bodies
and the sweat
and the death and the bodies overboard
Still like wood
Ever seen a dead man walk the plank
Float in a killers accomplice
Do you know dead bodies float
Like trying to find its way to heaven
But live bodies swim cause they are afraid of it
Do you know heaven can't see through ships
So they sends storms
And big fish
But fish never have an appetite for black men
So we bary ourselves in our own bellies
swollow our pride and swim
With the last ounce of breath that left
I wonder if a slave every swam home
As obserd as it sounds
We survived worse
We've been drowning since we met the man
No wonder we afraid to learn the backstroke
Salt water don't fare well in flesh wounds
And H2O been a black mans Kryptonite since the dawn of the Atlantic trade
Traded ocean for hoses, fountains for flint
I'll tell you why black men never know how to swim
cause black man can't float
if a black man can't breath

Poem part 2
America is thirsty, a hopeless romantic always trying to take a breath away
Or sweep is off your feet
Make us dance
With bullets at our heels
Guns are the new whip
And black boy
You are a song
It always seems on rhyme to
America is classy in textbook
But a freak in the streets
America is into Kama sutra
Binds whoever it pleases
by the word ghetto
Twist and contorts
Until we're all F’d up
This one night stand turned into 200 years
of 50 shades of black
And some of us are starting to like it

Poem part 3
we are the worst slaves
more muscle than muzzle
more act up then act right we activists
We amethyst stone cold
From fefes to son sons
we magic the way we make our names
dance away from the slave labels
We learn quick
We peep ish
Like how you be don't associate success with bachelors it only matters when i call it my
masters
You still want to own me

Poem part 4
The devil doesn't wear Prada he creates it
Markets it as culture until debt is the new black
Makes us get high off our own sins
Like the Tower of Babel
Then scatters our tongues for it
There's always a whip and a chain
Only difference is how proudly we wear them

Postscript
this Poem is my grandma's momma’s momma
like this Poem ain't too far from me
Like my mama still sings hymns they sung
I sing too
just got a little less shackle to it
Little revolution my tongue tied to my throat
Little more hope
Little more sickle in my slang

A liI slay

My song say

I been trying to write a poem.

Written and read by Marnino Toussaint

 

 

You ever see a Black grandma smile?
That ain’t nothing but god showing out
A mouth full of tomorrow and the remnants of yesteryear’s sorrow
eeking out from between her teeth
Feels like she creates the universe
with one gleam
Seem like jubilation shining from that lone gold tooth
                the molar in the back
                at the top
                on the left
Next to that space that used to hold her granddaddy’s secrets
Probably got a pack of hallelujah and asè in her pocketbook next to the peppermints
Each exhale a good morning, Suga
The corners of her mouth holding all of us up when falling would be in easy order

You ever see a black boy run?
Sun illuminating his stride
like the ancestors blew breath in his back
Bare feet
Grass or concrete
He’s going places
Got places to go
Worlds to conquer
Obstacles over which to leap
Keep gliding on ‘em
Sliding on ‘em
Fly, young boy
Beyond what they say are your limitations.
Footprints in clouds, I tell you.
We been running.
Ain’t no ways tired.
Fires under our feet feel like freedom burning.

Ever see a black girl dance?
Rhythm in syncopation with
the Earth’s rotation.
Hips got their own polarity
Each sway or step recalls an ancestor she never knew
but can’t help but feel.
Real transmigration, syncopation in her gyration
This girl grooves an entire story.
Kemet in her clap
Struggle in her stomp
Overcoming in her twerk
She writes and recites her story our story
in her hip hop
B-girl to bachata
To dutty whine
She finds future in the down beat.

You ever see a black man cry
It’s a rare site, at best
It’s hard to see the tears when they’re taught to stay welled up in the chest
Hard-pressed
Held up like hands afraid of the fall
But they’re there
Cuz he feels
He fears
He is human
Despite the news reports
he has a heart
Sometimes hardened
Scarred and hidden
but it beats
And it breaks
And we break
But broken doesn’t mean useless
We’ve been broken before
and built back
Backs emblazoned and branded
but carried through
Carrying a few too many burdens
But the other side is in sight.

But have you ever heard a black woman speak?
When a Black woman speaks she brings layered language in each syllable
Lingo like lassos
Grab those within ear shot
She’s got a whole library on her lips
Pauses fill in the parts they don’t want us to know
She shole got a way with words
Her vernacular is a familiar your one
Words feel like an Al Green record,
like Jook joints,
fish fries, cookouts
Family reunions
Communion - the body and the blood
This woman is a parable and proverb
Verbs and nouns sound orchestral out of her mouth
and her silence speaks volumes
Says an encyclopedia with her eyes.
She’ got a way with words that have been salvation
and resurrection
The power in her tongue is immeasurable
We are all made better when a Black woman speaks
And has the space to say it plainly

In the beginning was the word
And the word was God
And she looked a lot like a young Cicely Tyson
And sounded a bit like my Grandma telling me to come in
Before the lights came on.
She has smiled on us
She has set us free.

Written and read by Darius Daughtry

I, too, sing America.
                A song in keys broken
                Token harmonies imbedded in
                Cacophonies.
                My song is a scream
                Full-throated bellow
                Voice like sandpaper.
                Dear, neighbor
                Face the music.

I am the darker brother.
                Darker sister
                Sun-kissed
                Different hue
                Different shade
                For far too long my
                Song has been played
                On mute

They send me to eat in the kitchen
                But I have tended fields and
                Seasoned pots and
                Chopped, boiled, and fried -
                And fed their children, so

When company comes,
                I will sit, napkin
                Neatly folded.
                Holding fork and knife.
                I will eat, and
                I will drink.
                I will speak of truths that
                Turn stomachs and
                Erase appetites.
                Nice will not be on
                The menu. Dark,
                Stark realities will.
                They will feel; they may
                Cry.

But I laugh,
                Full-throated laughs from my
                Belly.
And eat well,
And grow strong.
                Because I know this is not
                New.
                But I have no delusions of
                Symphonies to be sung

Tomorrow,
                Promises nothing.
                No epiphanies.
                No paradise.
                No utopia where

I’ll be able to eat at the table
                Without condescension and
                Questions. They’ll wish me
                Away, or a way more
                Appeasing.
                They’ll try to paint
                Me them.

When company comes.
                I will curse them.

Nobody’ll dare
                Look me in the eyes.
                Too afraid to see
                A disappointed
                God.
                Unwilling to

Say to me,
                “I hear your song.”
                Instead, they’ll offer
                Smiles with clinched lips
                Their tears will drip as they
                Pass the peas.
                I will yell to them,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.
                I will curse them again
                In songs:
                Dirges and anthems
                In their faces.
                I will breathe in
                The breaths of queens;
                The breaths of slaves;
                The breaths of my grandparents
                And grandchildren.
                And I will trumpet those breaths
                In song into their ears
                Until they cup their hands at
                Their face to collect the blood.

Besides,
                Even if I sing
                Sweet and soft.
                Angelic, serene.
                I doubt there’ll be
                A day seen when
They’ll see how beautiful I am

                So, I must see my own
                Beauty.
                Sing until my heart
                Remembers.

And be ashamed –
                Of nothing.
                Not even the fact that
I, too, am America.

Written and read by Darius Daughtry

 

I dream a world unhinged
free from choking chains
there’s smoke spoken of by prophets before me
a ground, ashen with yesterday’s bitterness

sometimes the forest must burn
for the newness to arrive
I’m alive in this world
Fully
Not just belabored breaths
I
and we know how to frolic
ash between our toes and all

This world, of which I dream,
smells of a fragrant future
pungent bouquet of dying biases
carcasses of bygone eras scattered about
and there’s laughter
guttural sounds free of compromise
turned all the way up
                we all turnt up
They all burnt up
This world is lit
                was lit
Had to be that way
They refused the water

Now, we are living

Written and read by Darius Daughtry

 

A revolution does not exist without the poets
Not those who see themselves as wise
As above
Learn-ed
And better
As unwilling to dirty their minds or scuff their manicures
but the poets grizzled by time and witches
by the lamentations of an unknown ancestor
Those poets - who can write an inferno in just one word
the perfect word that tastes of both ambrosia and bile
The poets who’ve been swung on and know what it’s like to swing back
Those ready to live
Ready to dance in oppression’s face
Spit in oppression’s face
And love hard on those with the same spirit

To make change you must have imagination
Must be able to fashion a world out of vapor
Must see the invisible and craft cathedrals out of the not yet thought of
Some poets’ papers have a million revolutions
between the lines that have never felt the gravel beneath their feet
Majestic, might metaphors wrapped in comfort

But those who can dream and build
Create and tear down at the same time are the poets
the movers
the makers
that will gather us all and usher us into a new galaxy
Or reform
Refine
Where we stand until it feels good enough for us all
Until we have revolved
And evolved into what once was and what can be.

Written and read by Darius Daughtry

 

Dear mama,
This is a letter
A letter started in a workshop
A letter that began as a diversion from the mundane
of a man telling me what I already know
So, I escaped
I ran to you, like I always have.
You have been the fortress of solitude to my Superman
and I have run to you.
When it wasn’t safe for me to walk home after school.
When death haunted my slumber.
When I longed for that next car in the driveway to be his,
I ran to you.
And never were you not there.
Even in your soft spots.
While I babysat in the back of Bonnevilles at midnight
while you placed bets on a better tomorrow.
As married loafers slid out the front door -
away from a woman they didn’t deserve.
I ran to you, just a boy, but reminding you of your worth,
because I knew that you were worth to me.
And as I ran to you, as I always did, you ran to a higher calling
You needed a fortress, someone to never leave you, someone to always understand.
And I didn’t quite understand that you could no longer be my fortress.
You could be my shoulder.
You longed to usher me into the fortress you’d discovered.
But I just needed a hug.
I just needed to bask in that which had never not been there.
But now I stand,
Looking at you in the doorway of your comfort with open hands.
Wanting that little boy to run to you and yours.
But I don’t run.
I move, but I don’t run.
I take small steps towards you, at times.
I slide quickly into myself, at times.
I dance in circles, wander to either side, or teleport, at times.
But I don’t run.
Not in the physical.
But every day in my mind,
When my adult world pounds on me,
When death seems to call me by name,
When I cry because that next car in the driveway was not his.
Then, I am that boy and you are my fortress.
And to you, I run.

Written and read by Darius Daughtry

 

Without odd, it would all be even.
It would be normal. Nothing would happen.
But with odd, it's going to be different.
Ideas are made.
Yes, it's may have it's sad downfalls and pins of shame.
But odd is the new even today.

Written by Branden, Grade 5 at Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School
Read by Arsimmer McCoy

 

I'll show people my art
When company comes
Nobody'll dare
Say to em,Frankie Gudino

I am the best artist
They may judge me by my art
When company comes
But I laugh
And draw more
And draw better

Tomorrow,

Your art is bad
Then

Besides,
They'll see how good I am
And be ashamed

I, too, am the artist of America.

Written by Frankie, Grade 5 at Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School
Read by Arsimmer McCoy

 

Give thanks to the gifted.
Give thanks to the roots
that gifted it to them.
Gratitude to the tubers elevated and lifted.
Respect the growth
and what shifted,
to give way to wholeness
and fulfillment.
Praise be the syncopated echo
Of peace.
The release of vulnerability
and the “letting go”,
of the ideologies
that have plagued us for years.
We see each other,
blood and gut connection.
Removing energies that don't serve us,
gives way to touch authentic.
We see each other,
grappling with the colliding of universes,
breaks through to new ideas.
About love.
About humanity.
About how the singular,
won't make for good company
when the trumpets blare.
The gifted ones.
The ones who open palms
to lay on heavy shoulders
will understand.
It's going to take us all to get there.
All hands.
All eyes looking towards
a new western front.
One blanketed
with the bodies bred from broken origins,
depending on a new plane.
Getting off our knees
to walk upright.
Recognizing,
we are all,
Human.

Written and read by Arsimmer McCoy

 

Poets and Speakers

Marnino Toussaint

Marnino Toussaint

Marnino Toussaint is a South Florida-based Spoken Word/Hip-Hop artist and arts educator. He teaches poetry writing and performance in schools, prisons and other community spaces in collaboration with nonprofit organizations and municipalities including O, Miami, Art Prevails Project, City of Sunrise, Brave New Voices, OLCDC and more. Mr. Toussaint is also a 2020 Knights Arts Champion winner.

As an artist, Mr. Toussaint has been on the stages of Tedx Miami, Broward 100's Duende! and has worked alongside the likes of actors Omari Hardwick and Victoria Justice, author Mary Pope Osborne and has opened for Hip Hop legend, Chuck D. Recently, Mr. Toussaint performed at the Playhouse in Los Angeles as part of their ceremony honoring musical legend and activist, Harry Belafonte.

 

Yaheli McCoy-Smith

Yaheli McCoy-Smith

Eleven-year-old Yaheli McCoy-Smith is a phenomenal orator, actor and dancer. She is a two-time consecutive champion of Miami Dade College’s Theodore Gibson Oratorical Competition, where schools across the city of Miami send students (grades K-12) to compete in public speaking.

Miss McCoy-Smith was a guest performer at The United We Dream Youth Congress, Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival, and Poetry for the People’s Maroon Poetry Festival. She has also been seen in advocacy/campaign commercials for The Dream Defenders and appeared in the independent short films You Can Always Come Home, Through the Eyes of a Child and A Poem for my Black Baby.

 

 

 

Darius V. Daughtry

Darius Daughtry

Darius V. Daughtry is a poet, playwright, director and educator. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Art Prevails Project, a performing and literary arts organization cultivating community and creating equitable access to the arts through performance, arts education and community engagement.

Mr. Daughtry has been commissioned to write, perform and conduct workshops for various organizations nationally and across South Florida. He is the author of And the Walls Came Tumbling, an introspective poetic memoir and cultural critique that explores the intersections of race, class and gender through a brutally unforgiving lens. He has also written and directed numerous plays, including The Happening: A Theatrical Mixtape, a series of multidisciplinary theatrical performances that explore relevant social issues.

 

Arsimmer McCoy

Arsimmer McCoy

Arsimmer McCoy is from Richmond Heights, Florida. her work covers conversations about identity, self-reflection, human connectivity, legacy, validation and transparency. She is the acting Director of Programming for Bookleggers Library and a teaching artist with several local nonprofits. Ms. McCoy was a 2021 writer-in-residence at Bakehouse Art Complex and a 2022 AIRIE fellow, as well as recipient of the 2021 Miami Foundation racial equity grant and Locust Project’s 2021 Wavemaker grant. Her work has been featured in RootWork Journal, Mixed Magazine, The Lighthouse Review, Creatures Mag and Opal Literary.

Ms. McCoy’s poetry has been featured in two films, You Can Always Come Home produced by Monica Sorelle and directed by Juancy Matos, and How to: Look At You from sculptor GeoVanna Gonzalez. Ms. McCoy’s passion project is turning her home into an exhibition space (entitled Ms. Mary’s House|The Carol City Museum) and mothering her 11-year-old daughter who dances like fire. Ms. McCoy holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Carnival Corporation & PLC Knight Foundation The Kovner Foundation City of Miami Beach Miami-Dade County Yamaha Artist Services Truist