Last Wednesday, May 20, Ekere Tallie gave a poetry reading at Union during the common hour.
Karp 105 was packed, and many students had to resort to sitting on the floor. The reading was approximately an hour long.
Students were able to leave in time to go to their next class, but Tallie stayed behind to sign books for those who had purchased her book prior to the reading.
Tallie was introduced by both Professor of African-American Literature Katherine Lynes and a student from Lynes’ class.
Last Wednesday was Tallie’s second poetry reading at Union.
Tallie began by reading her poem, “I Was There Once,” a piece inspired by a personal trip to the Mississippi River.
After Tallie visited the river and told her father of the journey, he told her a story of their family ancestors and their ancestors’ connections to the Mississippi River. That story ultimately became “I Was There Once.”
Tallie stated, “If it wasn’t for the sacrifices of all these people … they struggled for us to be here … and that is the only reason I was able to go back to Mississippi as a free woman.”
Tallie’s poetry was filled with emotion. Tallie was aware of how moving some of her pieces were, such as “Blue Libation,” a poem about her mother’s ancestors.
Tallie informed the audience that it was OK not to clap after some poems — instead, it was OK to sit and appreciate the poem in silence. Some poems are not meant to be applauded, she noted.
A poem that Tallie read, entitled “Unheeled,” was inspired by an article in Vogue Magazine about singer, Rihanna. Rihanna was quoted as saying, “worry about the pain later,” in regards to her uncomfortable high-heeled shoes.
Tallie related this to the fact that Rihanna had been in an abusive relationship, and wrote the poem about other women who suffer from abuse in relationships.
Tallie read several more of her poems before moving onto a question and answer segment.
When asked how long it takes her to write a poem she answered, “It varies … it depends on what the content is. Very rarely do I just write stuff and not have to go back to it. Generally speaking, I like to write stuff down and go back to it.”