Readings and Conversations About Poetry

A Road Scholar Program by Poet Laureate Angela Jackson

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Apr 5, 2022


Mississippi Valley District Library
408 W Main St
Collinsville, IL 62234


Open to the public

All may enter the realm of the poem. Poetry belongs to each of us, wealthy, super rich, middle class, working class, and poor. I think the shut out — middle class, working class and poor have a storehouse of poems yet to be heard. We are each rich with the beauty and purpose of words, if written words are available to us and we let their potential in. Literacy is a vital component of the power of poetry. It is a vital component of the people’s power. But poetry may be oral as were the first poems. Chants and ritual words sung as the tribe gathered. Poetry is the language of the heart, brain, body and soul. It moves as the spirit moves us — in rhythms, definite and distinct.

“Poetry is life distilled,” wrote legendary Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks (Il 1968 – 2000). In the realm of each poem, we find contained the nucleus of life itself, some truth that otherwise eluded us, but pulses in our daily lives, behind our eyes, on the edge of a smile or frown, laughter or weeping. Sometimes there is a word-picture that catches our breath and inspires us, an image that makes us see a-new, a cunning turn of language that makes us want to speak in tongues.

Poetry becomes more popular in times of turmoil and social upheaval, such as today. The motto of the Civil Rights Movement was “transforming hearts and minds.” What better way than through poetry? “We Shall Overcome” is a poem sung. People need poems to speak the powerful currents of ideas that impel us forward to push against the gray walls of the past. Poet Denise Levertov in her poem “Jacob’s Ladder” describes a man struggling up a ladder when “Wings brush past him. The poem ascends.” When we speak as poets, we are truest to our humanity and we assume a sacred task. We ascend as angels ascend. We put on our wings. Brown, White, Asian, Black we ascend as angels ascend.

Join Angela Jackson for this conversation about Poetry.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Matt Harris at


– Masks required indoors for all individuals over the age of 2
– Seating is socially distanced. Group size may be limited by the number of available seats.
– If the weather permits, the event may be held outdoors

Learn more about Angela Jackson, this program, and how to book it.


Mississippi Valley Library District