by W. Kim Heron
MT columnist Larry Gabriel recently wrote about the poetry and legacy of the late Detroit poet laureate Dudley Randall ("Gift of a poet: Clarity"). It's a cliché to call someone a "major force" in their realm of activity, but Randall was instrumental in creating a publishing house for black poets just as a burgeoning new generation of voices was in need of one. His Broadside Press was the place where Don L. Lee (later Haki R. Madhubuti) and Nikki Giovanni, Etheridge Knight, Sonia Sanchez and others started connecting with national audiences. Significantly, established voices like Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker and Sterling Brown published on Broadside as well.
Detroiter and former Randall assistant Melba Joyce Boyd published the biography Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press in 2004 and recently edited an anthology of his poetry and writings, Roses and Revolutions. On Sunday, Sept. 13, at 4 p.m. poets and other Randall admirers gather at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center to read from Randall's works and view video clips of the master rendering his own words.
His words live on, and it's a fine tribute to have others bring them to life. But Randall spoke in a voice, at once strong and gentle, that, once heard, sounds totally in sync with his words. That pairing of his voice and those of his interpreters promises to make Sunday's event all the more poignant.
The Virgil H. Carr Center is located at 311 E. Grand River in Paradise Valley (as Harmonie Park is being rebranded); it's just south of the Detroit Athletic Club. For information, call 313-965-8430.