Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker Speaks at AMHS

AMHS welcomes Marcus Amaker in celebration of Black History Month.

Mr.+Amaker+is+the+Poet+Laureate+of+Charleston+as+well+as+the+Gaillard%27s+artist+in+residence.

Mr. Amaker is the Poet Laureate of Charleston as well as the Gaillard's artist in residence.

Every year during February, the African American Awareness club sponsors an event in recognition of Black History Month. Recent years have allowed speakers such as Carolyn Murray and Jonathan Green to come speak with AMHS students. The event offers enrichment for students in the form of cultural appreciation, and this year was no exception. With the help of seniors Ebonie White and Taliyah Jenkins, Academic Magnet was afforded the opportunity to have Marcus Amaker speak with the student body.

In 2017, Mr. Amaker was awarded the title of Poet Laureate of Charleston, the first in the city’s history. Additionally, he serves as the Gaillard’s artist in residence. When he’s not working on graphic design, web design, videography, or music, he also works with the community of Charleston to provide enrichment and inspiration to students around the city. As Art Magazine stated, “he is the Renaissance man of Charleston.”

Mr. Amaker began his presentation with an expansion on Black History Month. In a conventional sense, students are always taught about figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. While these figures undoubtedly hold significance within the course of history, Mr. Amaker pointed out that Black History Month is also meant to allow for the appreciation of black culture and heritage. He made note of musicians and poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks. Further, the presentation expanded on Mr. Amaker’s early career and music. To the crowd’s approval, he played a snippet of his first song, titled “Big Butt.” Needless to say, it was a fan favorite. I will link the youtube version below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EwTvsHzN9A

 

After the moment of comic relief, Amaker was quick to advise all of the students to expand on their creativity and follow their dreams. He was wise to point out that artists have difficult paths to success, but that students should not feel discouraged. If everyone encouraged curiosity and creativity, the world would be a better place.

Mr. Amaker was thanked with a standing ovation by the school, a testament to the efficacy of his message. Below lies one of his poems.

 

Hope is in the Listening

 

City as sorcerer and storyteller, sharp-eyed

observant, holy grandmother. She’s survived 350 years

because the longevity of the Lowcountry requires

a special kind of magic. Today, we are witnesses

to that witchcraft. Citizens of its charm. Today,

she is the voice connecting her family: The tourist

and tour guide, cradling history in their arms

like a crying infant. The LGBTQ+ community,

joyous and resilient in the shadow of hate crimes.

Plantation workers sending one-way postcards

to ghosts. Black poets, the great interpreters

of Southern truth. The farmer, hand delivering

homegrown sunshine. The mayor, whose job is to

see hope through floods and watered-down politics.

Charleston’s story should be defined by

this diversity. The sounds of promise and protest.

She may be old, but her best days are ahead.

Whatever challenges await, we will face them together

because she hears us, people of change.

She hears us.