On Thursday (Oct. 10), the Intercultural Arts Project (ICAP) presents two-time National Poetry Slam champion Roger Bonair-Agard who makes a presentation to the Institute titled, “Exclusivity of Space and the Artist’s Responsibility: A Look Into the Dismantling of the American Ideology at the Center of Racist Practice.”
Bonair-Agard was born in Trinidad and Tobago and migrated to the US in 1987 to study law, but attending a poetry reading in Brooklyn made him turn to writing verse. He has since published three books of poetry, which includes this year’s Bury My Clothes, a finalist for the National Book Award. He teaches poetry at the Cook Country Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago.
In a 2011 interview with NPR’s Tell Me More, Bonair-Agard was asked what he thinks is the purpose of poetry. He answers:
For me, it’s for survival. It is for a self-expression that I can’t access in any other way. I think other people come to it because in poetry, they find the expression of their day-to-day lives in a manner that either validates or exults, or makes sense of what they live and who they are. And it does that for me, too. For me, though, I continue to write it because I can’t not have that as a way of making sense of the world. I’d go crazy or die, at least, in some figurative way.
Below is a video of Bonair-Agard performing The All Black Penguin Speaks at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.