National Poetry Month’s Feature: Poet Brenda Bunting
Poet’s Bio: Poet Brenda Bunting, she/her is the author of Poems of Love and Violence In Between Life and Death (1st and 2nd editions). She is an award-winning orator whose work has appeared in numerous publications online and in print. She hosts poetry events and has been the featured poet at live events, virtually, on television, and blog radio.
Brenda is a poetry workshop facilitator and spoken word artist who advocates for racial, social, and environmental justice. Brenda has a BA in English and is completing her Master of Teaching at NYU. She is a literary leader of Prince Georges County Maryland, a life member of the Kentucky State Poetry Society and certified Life Coach. Brenda is working to complete her next books of poetry. Check out her artist page on Facebook at FreeThinker Poet
Deliah Lawrence: What inspired you to be a poet?
Brenda Bunting: I started writing poetry when I was 12 years old, over 40 years ago. Poetry provided the creative cloak I needed to try to comprehend what was happening in my life and to try to make sense of the world without actually having to write about it in black and white. I needed color.
DL: Do you have any reflections about life in general?
BB: We live our lives inside our minds and hearts. Make them tender sacred spaces where few are allowed. Be kind to yourself and true but in a compassionate way. Make the truth your friend and be real. That is how to grow and glow.
DL: What tips would you give to aspiring poets?
BB: Believe you are a poet and believe in your poetry. If you truly are a poet, poetry will never leave you even if audiences do. Cultivate your voice and find who you are speaking for. The populous needs poets so we will always be here as long as people are. Art is life.
DL: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
BB: I AM EVOLUTION.
DL: In celebration of National Poetry Month, can you share with us a few of your poems?
MMS: Sure, I would like to share the following two poems:
A Voice Ascending: Dedicated to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Every line is crafted for justice and the effect is set in stone.
How many moans of soundless women? How many shrill screams of young girls,
forced into roles by foul judgments cry out for victory this day?
Every movement of your life brought you to this appointment.
But the beasts crawled out of their dens, crawled out of their chambers for the feasting.
They tore into the heart of a black woman. Their threatening shuddering of rhetorical grand standing was shaken to nothing in the face of such composure. Even though she stood alone she knew so many stood with her- in prayer- in solidarity- in quiet utterances- sending our deepest love, encouraged by her courage, inspired by her strength. She is not their meal, not measly food for the taking.
Her words weighed heavy. They were drawn from the burden of black she was sentenced to but proudly carried. Never ashamed of the beautiful brown hue the reflection of earth mother we are planted firm in her keeping. Black but comely, poised yet incredibly gracious, the arms of ancient mothers hugged you Sister Ketanji in their loving embrace. While you sat in the fire of angry men their burning rage coldly repugnant perhaps at their day of judgment you will preside at their trial.
Here at this historic Supreme Court nomination, 232 years later of judging the souls of black folks, finally a black woman sits in the seat of judgment. Not lightly in the highest court of the land, not lightly soon to be listening to the most impactful cases in our country. Her words are not resting feathers but full of strength and steel. Powerfully emotive elegant of speech she ascends to the halls of justice. Open the doors and let her in to this place of stagnating quagmire that has become thick with political debauchery. Remove the chokehold chains as this black swan takes flight. The 116th Associate Justice of the United States of the American Supreme Court
Rest easier Sister Harriet, our black Moses who brought it to the court full of white faces and was denied the financial benefits she deserved after serving as a spy and soldier for this country.
Smile wider Sister Fannie Lou Hamer who brought it to the court being denied the right to vote and had to stand before white faces, but she won.
Cheer and rejoice Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith, and Claudette Colvin who brought to the court Montgomery Alabama bus segregation unfair practices and had to stand before white faces, but they won.
There are countless other cases – of known and unknown black women and their faces – who shone with hope as they mounted their offense or defense against the unjust and corrupt. But now one sits up high on the other side.
This is not a momentary win. We will always lock step with Sister Ketanji Brown Judge Jackson. Because we know how to soothe from the constant wounding from our skin color stigma. We have tasted the bitterness with you and let it pass through our entire system out to the wasteland. We will always gather around you Sister Ketanji Brown Judge Jackson because we know how to forgive as the ancestors taught us to find the love reserves in the wellsprings of God that live in our souls. We shall not be moved. We shall not turn away from the blinding truth of the horrible sentences endured for generations. April 7th two thousand and twenty-two it was made a little better.
As she stood with the President and Vice President behind her, she gave accolades not to herself but to others who were by her side. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson didn’t say I made it. She talked about her family, this country, our ancestors her Sherpa, mentors, and guides. She said, “But we made it. All of us. All of us.” Yes, you did make it. A flourishing beauty on the right side of justice right past the firing squad and the aim takers standing on the shoulders of giants to soar in the sweet winds of victory.
When I think of Skin Color…
I sat like stone waiting for water to move me.
But nothing seems to move black labeled skin.
I sat with it rejecting the weight forced upon me.
I am a Mighty Lover.
The trees enjoyed my approach.
They understood the crown I wore for they too had one.
There was nothing strange or unnatural about me.
I was beautiful to them and I felt their accepting embrace,
As our air intermingled.
I am part of the natural world. A most vibrant creation.
No appearance disturbing, language inferior,
Or movements abnormal to nature’s chorus.
They understood the beat of my journey.
A Womb Walker full of promise and seed.
I bring forth mightily like some baring children,
Like all others baring fruit of the soul.
I do not require alteration.
My strength rises from the nurturing compassion of my heart.
I blow kisses to the sun that touched my skin in bronze Fashion.
With hands and feet peeping undersides of white.
When I think of skin color there we are,
Reflecting in soils of earth. From the black rich and fertile,
To the ruddy red clay to the golden yellow deserts and the, Immaculate white sands.
The beauty and diversity,
Of colorful flowers springing forth in their seasons,
Dwell in meadows harmonious.
I hear their contented singing.
As I am walking barefoot in careful Fashion.
Wild they grow in thoughtful patterns for each expression.
“Won’t you follow me?” They are asking,
“Won’t you follow me?”
DL: Thanks so much for being here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.
BB: Thank you for thinking of me and providing this platform for literary artists. You do good work!