Dancing with Poems

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April is National Poetry Month, and I saw a poem the other day that made me think of Byrne Miller. I never took the time to ask Byrne who her favorite poets were, but something tells me Langston Hughes would have been one of them.

Black Dancers – by Langston Hughes

Who have nothing to lose
Must sing and dance
Before the riches
Of the world
Who have nothing to lose
Must laugh and dance
Lest our laughter
Goes from

Byrne not only brought modern dance to the Deep South, she brought black modern dance. The most expensive company she ever hired to perform in Beaufort was the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company – she told me she’d take out a second mortgage on her house to bring them here. She not only brought DCDC dancers to a Beaufort  stage, but into dance classes at Beaufort public schools for a weeklong residency. The culminating performance was breathtaking. I’ll never forget the exquisite, painful honesty of the great African-American choreographer Talley Beatty’s Mourner’s Bench. One male dancer, sitting on a wooden plank, turning the movement of suffering into poetry. Or Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Round My Shoulder – a modern interpretation of a chain gang in the Deep South.

So, because I never thanked Byrne at the time, I will poetry_poster_small_sizecopy read Langston Hughes Black Dancers on Saturday, at the Charles Street Gallery. At four o’clock in the afternoon, when most of Beaufort is off at soft shell crab festivals, fundraisers and farmers markets, a group of six writers will read poetry to whoever makes the time to listen. I know Byrne Miller will be there in spirit.

One thought on “Dancing with Poems

    Suzanne Larson said:
    July 28, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    I haven’t read much Langston Hughes, but will do so now. This is very inspiring and I may break out in rhyme because of it and get sent home! Beautiful… thank you!


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