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A People Shaped, not Defined, by History

We are unique, we African-Americans. We are the children of a displaced people, descendants of a culture that lost so much and yet refused to lose so much more. More often than not, several streams of history, race and culture come together in one individual who identifies as black. Dropped into a brutal, harrowing situation we called upon the will to survive and with new, unfamiliar and often outlawed tools we retained the ability to create and, as so often happens, a new art emerged, a new sensibility evolved. And now those tools have become our own and this culture, this nation have been shaped by its black people as much as by anyone. This colossal epic of history can, has, and will be explored any number of ways. This exploration is through the poetry of the children of those displaced people, and we call it My Soul Grown Deep.
The title comes from a Langston Hughes poem, perhaps his most famous, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers". Rivers speak of time passing, of change, of renewed life and of the blood of the earth and so too, does black poetry on American soil speak of these things. The voice has changed and even the course, evolving over the centuries from the neo-classicist stylings of Phillis Wheatley to the consciousness-changing rumblings of Paul Laurence Dunbar to the weathered humanity of Lucille Clifton to the radical spirit of Saul Williams. A single river has blossomed into not one destination but many, not one color but an array of kaleidoscopic images and thoughts and emotions falling in and out of one another. African- American poetry, like every other art form, finds itself, in the twenty-first century, not defined by history but shaped by it, not caged by the weary blues but unleashed by them. For BaseRoots then, this is as good as any place to start.
My Soul Grown Deep seeks to capture these poems alive, in the air, still changing, still growing, bumping into things or finding a soaring moment before they settle in to who they are. My Soul Grown Deep celebrates the breathing heart within these poems. We want to open them up, play, delve, re-envision and put them back together again. We rejoice that these poems reveal specific aspects of humanity in order to communicate and commiserate with all humanity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Soul Grown Deep.

See you there.