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A Brief But Spectacular take on poetry as ritual


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

John Yang: Mahogany Browne is a poet, writer, organizer and educator. Recently, she became the first ever poet in residence at New York City's Lincoln Center, where she's trying to expose more people to poetry. Tonight, she shares her Brief But Spectacular take on poetry as ritual.

Mahogany Browne, Poet, Writer, Organizer and Educator: The importance of ritual as a poem as a practice is finding stillness and reminding yourself to breath. How do you quiet the mind, even though you may not be able to understand quiet in the middle of New York City streets, but it is possible to quiet your mind, to get to a place where you can be at peace and have promise.

I'm going to ask you all to participate with me in this piece. This is going to be a communal meditation.

The poem ritual is about meditation. It's about breathing. And it's about seizing the day rather than worrying about tomorrow.

Today, you will. Today you choose. Today is yours. Today is only today, tomorrow ain't here yet, so slow down.

I was interested in creating ritual because I live in Brooklyn, New York. And I rarely found a space quiet enough to meditate. And so this poem became a part of my meditation practice. And now it's something that I do every day.

Breathe, for the homies that ain't you, breathe, for the kin, that is. Breathe, for your own good skin, your skin, your smile, your you, you, you.

As someone who's aware of her anxiety, the ritual became very crucial for me to just find a place to have deep breaths. And I think that it will offer that to the listeners as well.

Now come back. Come back. Come back to yourself.

I do say poetry is a transformative tool because I believe it allows us to use poetry as a mirror. And we can look very deeply and intently. We can study it without judgment and we can allow ourselves to grow from the things that we see versus the things that we thought we were seeing. Poetry allows us a step back, some distancing, and a lot of compassion.

Miraculous dark days, most fortunate sky be, beyond brilliant and be your resilience. But you do that already. Who told you any different, you tell them today you live and today you choose. Because tomorrow ain't here yet, so slow down, slow down. Breathe .

My name is Mahogany L. Browne, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on poetry as ritual.

John Yang: And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos online at

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