How do words define and confine our reality?
Flint’s first poet laureate, Semaj Brown, will explore that question in “Word Power: How words define and confine our reality” in a virtual performance and interactive discussion at 7 pm. Thursday, Aug. 13.
The event, sponsored by UM – Flint’s College of Arts and Sciences, will be accessible on Zoom or Facebook Live. Attendees can register by going to http://go.umflint.edu/wordpower.
Brown will read from her book Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light: Conversations in Poetry and Prose, and will include performances by Billie Scott Lindo, artistic director of Flint’s New McCree Theatre, and James Brown, a Flint-area physician and the author’s husband.
Following the performance, UM-Flint Associate Professor of Sociolinguistics Erica Britt will moderate a discussion on the power words exert over our everyday lives, probing why we choose the words we do, what names truly mean, and who has the power to name.
Discussion panelists include former Flintside Managing Editor Alexandria Brown, UM-Flint student David Guster, and author Xzavier V. Simon.
Brown said the event will help participants gain insight into the power of ordinary words, according to a press release issued by UM – Flint.
“In this time of upheaval, in this time of great change, time of grief and triumph—poetry is microphone, earbuds to the heart,” Brown said.
“Poetry is microscope, exposing the hidden and the hazardous. Poetry is magnet, drawing out, and dragging from us the pooling pus of oppression.
“We need our words to be art: sculpting and painting, fabric working new threads of freedom. We need our words to be science: measuring and dissecting, deconstructing the obsolete paradigms of injustice. We need words to be — OUR words,” she added.
Britt has published research on how language influences the world around us. She believes exploring how we speak can help us discover new things about ourselves and our community.
“Words have the power to shape how we view – and act – in the world around us. Words create our reality so by creatively using language we have the power to redefine our experience,” Britt said.
—EVM Staff, from UM – Flint press release.