Why I won’t be presenting “What happens to a dream deferred”

The window of a church in the neighborhood where I grew up.

One of the poems I’ve memorized for the Known By Heart project is Langston Hughes’ Harlem, better known by its first line, What happens to a dream deferred? It’s a vivid, powerful poem; its strong images and cadences make it memorable. Easy to memorize and well worth sharing.

But Saturday night I had the opportunity to see Are You Now or Have You Ever Been….Carlyle Brown’s stunning and eloquent play about Langston Hughes appearing before Senator McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American Activities. Gavin Lawrence

offers an amazing performance as Langston Hughes. Brown’s script makes great use of poetry and history, wrapping them in a compelling dramatic package. And the topic is chillingly relevant to the present day.

The performances are equally outstanding. I couldn’t begin to bring the heft and nuance to Hughes’ lines that Gavin Lawrence does. So please go see this play.

And if you want to hear what stayed on my own list, please come see me and Andrea Jenkins and John Minczeski in the Known By Heart event  this Wednesday, May 9, at the Hamline Midway library. (Sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library and made possible by  a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board)

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