The great American poet and jazz musician, Gil Scott-Heron, died today in 2011. He was 62 years old. As a boy, living with his grandmother – a civil rights activist, because these legacies can and should be passed down – he was introduced to the poetry of Langston Hughes and began to play piano. Best known for the peerless anthem “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” his cleared-eyed lyrics continue to challenge and destabilize racial hierarchies in profound ways.
With today’s SpaceX launch, the first crewed rocket to take off from American soil since Scott-Heron’s death, I can’t help but think of “Whitey on the Moon.” It’s a blunt expression of the pervasive inequality and racist violence that cripples this country; it’s a cudgel of truth: “A rat done bit my sister Nell / With Whitey on the moon…/How come there ain’t no money here? / Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon.”
Remember seeing poetry on King County and Sound Transit buses a few years ago? After a brief hiatus, Poetry on Buses coordinated by 4Culture returns this Monday 24 April to the Puget Sound. KBCS’s Casey Martin brings us this week’s Unmute the Commute story.
For more details about the Poetry on Buses project, including the launch party Monday 24 April at the Moore Theatre, visit poetryonbuses.org.
Unmute the Commute is a weekly series highlighting commuter stories, supported in part by King County Metro’s Just One Trip.
Poet, Terrance Hayes speaks at Bellevue College –Thursday, April 20, 2017
Terrance Hayes is the author of Lighthead (Penguin 2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. How To Be Drawn (Penguin 2015), his most recent collection of poems, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, and received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry.
- Terrance Hayes on Social Justice for Black Lives 11:30 am Carlson Theatre
- Moderated Interview with Terrance Hayes 1:30 pm Carlson Theatre
- Community Lecture with Terrance Hayes 5:00 pm Room N201