The gazebo on Bolivar’s square was the site of what may be described as an “uncomfortable” conversation Monday morning.
As participants in the Roy Blunt YMCA of Bolivar’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Dream Walk ended their march from the Y to the courthouse, they gathered in the gazebo to listen to visiting performance poet Antion McBee, whose stage name is DieVerse.
Prior to performing his piece, “Colors,” the artist provided his audience with a bit of context.
The St. Louis native, a former Southwest Baptist University student who today is a social worker, described his return to Bolivar as a sort of homecoming — one which was not altogether rosy.
“Anybody heard the statement, ‘A comfortable place is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there’?” he asked the marchers. “That’s what Bolivar kind of is for me.”
He went on to explain that his experience as a Bolivar resident just a couple years ago — which included the first time he said he experienced racism firsthand — led to personal growth which came from “living in a place that was not comfortable.”
Those experiences, he said, are what inspired the poem he performed.
And that last statement, particularly when paired with the often painful words of his poem — an excerpt appears below — is surely uncomfortable to hear for those of us who call this place home.
As well it should be.
But hearing it — truly hearing it — is important.
The argument, we think, may be made that it is far better to live in a flawed community willing to recognize potential shortcomings than in a seemingly perfect one that is not growing.
And growth is dependent on true communal, as well as individual, reflection and communication — especially where deeply difficult issues are concerned.
After all, the most uncomfortable conversations are usually the ones most worth having.
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Let us be clear: DieVerse is a performance poet. Reading his poetry is not equivalent to witnessing it being performed. That disclaimer aside, below is an excerpt from “Colors,” the poem DieVerse performed Monday. Find video of his performance online at BolivarMoNews.com.
“I refuse to believe that pigmentations will decide what is a masterpiece or a catastrophe/ … I hate how easy it is for some people to lace their lips with poison/fashion their tongues like double-barrelled sawed-off shotguns with a full load/to blow holes in my chest the size of wardrobes/with devastating words like you better not bring a white girl home./I just hate colors/Maybe because I don’t see colors./I see a Savior accepting broken people./I see broken people not accepting broken people/because they think their broken pieces aren’t equal.”