we are greater than hurricanes
we are not idle warships with punctured sails and windless lungs
we are anchors standing on our toes
when the tide comes rushing back to crack us in the chest
-- Kataalyst Alcindor
In a tribute to the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Birdfoot Festival has added the voice of the highly decorated West Bank poet Kataalyst Alcindor to its program.
Alcindor, 28, will preview his lyrical, spoken word monologues with a string quartet and discussion group at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center on May 28 and take part in a full performance the following night at the Contemporary Arts Center.
“I’m planning on excavating a lot of thoughts from New Orleanians (about the hurricane and its impact) and bringing them to light,” said Alcindor, whose family evacuated to Baton Rouge during Katrina’s landfall. “Many things happened throughout the city that most people don’t get an opportunity to speak out on.
“I’m trying to encompass some of what the locals feel and give them a little bit of a catharsis about it. A lot of people were traumatized by what happened then,” Alcindor said.
A two-time National Poetry Slam champion, Alcindor was the only poet chosen from thousands to appear on the second season of the Lexus “Verses and Flow” national television series.
He has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington as part of “An American Playlist: An Evening of Music and Verse” alongside Black Thought and Questlove, of the hip-hop house band The Roots, a performance that earned him the NAACP Image Award nomination.
The poet’s contribution at Birdfoot is likely to veer into improv, said Jenna Sherry, the festival’s artistic director.
“This is a new, adventurous and daring collaboration,” Sherry said. “The very exciting thing for all of us is that none of us knows exactly how it’s going to turn out.
“We know what we’re all shooting for and roughly how we’re going to put it together, but exactly how it turns out will be crafted during the festival.”