“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Poet and spoken word artist Reed Dorty prepares to recite the poetry of Langston Hughes to W.L. Parks Middle School on a scheduled visit Friday, March 26. The Parks’ students have been preparing for Dorty’s visit by researching and studying the early poetry works of the great Harlem Renaissance poet. Dorty is an advocate of Harlem Renaissance writers, and through his poetry he chooses to focus on reciting works of literature by his favorite writer. The poet is also prepared to recite over twelve of Hughes’ favorite and least known poetry. Through sharing Hughes’ poems, poet Dorty feels that he is encouraging young students to find excitement in both making oral presentations and writing.
Dorty has visited hundreds of schools and, during his visit to Parks Middle, he will have the opportunity to listen to Parks students recite their own collection of poetry and those Hughes. Parks students are also preparing to interview and videotape the poet as part of the ongoing Sankofa Project. Through sponsorship by the Auburn Avenue Research Library under the direction of Program Director Morris Gardner, the students have been documenting individuals who reside in the Pittsburgh community. To date, the students have documented several prominent individuals whose stories will be inclusive of the final documentary piece titled “The Legacies of Pittsburgh.” Additionally, teacher Jocelyn Johnson and her students are honing both their documentary and interviewing skills as they continue to prepare for more visits by other prominent Pittsburgh individuals.