In 2018, Oakland professor and poet Daniel Summerhill led a 10-week writing workshop through the nonprofit Chapter 510 for a small group of youth poets eager to explore the theme of Black Joy. This exploration resulted in the Nomadic Press anthology Black Joy: An Anthology of Black Boy Poems, a moving compendium of what it means to be authentically yourself in a tumultuous time.
The art of telling a personal story through verse is one that likely predates the written word, and Oakland’s penchant for poetry has influenced generations of such storytellers. Through organizations such as Chapter 510, Youth Speaks, and the Oakland Public Library, young poets hone their voices and shape their narratives as part of a welcoming community that's hungry for their work. Summerhill and his students connected with this rich legacy of expression with an examination of identity and self-worth.
Now, as a part of California Humanities' Art of Storytelling series, Summerhill will reunite with two of his students for a virtual panel and poetry performance on Sept. 24. Hear what it means to be Black, gifted, and even jubilant — despite the obstacles. The reading features Oakland’s 2019 Youth Poet Laureate, Samuel Getachew, and his anthology co-contributor and Hidden Genius project alumnus Elijah Hynson. Also featuring appearances by mentor wordsmiths, including Tongo Eisen-Martin (Heaven is All Goodbyes), Darius Simpson (Conversion Theory), and Vernon Keeve III (Southern Migrant Mixtape).
The reading takes place on Thursday, Sept. 24, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. More details and free registration here.