News: Soldiers celebrate poetic Martin Luther King Day through spoken words
BAGHDAD — The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came alive in a small, dimly lit room in Iraq Jan. 18 as Soldiers shared excerpts of life, spoken and delivered in rhythmic tones, during a poetry reading at Forward Operating Base Falcon.
Military glow sticks provided just enough light for Soldiers to sculpt words into poetic phrases, expressing the plight of African-Americans from past to present in commemoration of the King holiday.
Staff Sgt. Iraina Witherspoon, of 1472nd Civil Affairs Team, attached to 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, called King "a warrior for words."
Spc. Arjanell Odom, of 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, gave an overview of African-Americans fighting for justice from the Civil War to President Barack Obama's struggles to shape the world today, comparing past-century battles with the one she fights here in Iraq.
Good and bad memories blended into inspirational lyrics as Soldiers challenged listeners with their verses.
"Writing is my first love," said Sgt. Jabe' Thompson, of Company B, 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team Augmented, 3rd Infantry Division. "That's the way I deal with things. The poems I write may not be for everyone but sometimes [the words] may connect with someone, and that's my goal."
"Paternal Bricks," a poem Thompson wrote for his children right before he deployed, was layered in meaning to give his kids a lesson at various stages of their lives, according to him.
"I wrote this poem for my kids so that every time they read it, they will get something different from it as they grow," said Thompson of Philadelphia.
"Hate me because my pants don't sag below my waist," said Spc. Keith Niblack, of Washington as he spoke out against societal stereotypical statements. The black male dismissed each generalization with facts about himself, stressing cohesion, individualism and the strengths of a black man in one of his poems.
Spc. Jennifer Mercer, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 30th HBCT, spoke on how female intuition prompted her to go through her beau's cell phone, where she confirmed her suspicions of his infidelity. Two Soldiers promptly devoted a few stanzas to the situation.
Sgt. Jonnell Murrill, of Company A, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, stepped up to the microphone after Mercer and exclaimed, "Why you go through my stuff?"
The crowd roared with laughter as he gave a hilarious account of the pain and anguish experienced due to a woman snooping through his stuff.
Then Spc. Arvinette Brooks, of Los Angeles, focused on a woman's strength by challenging women to trust their instincts and to stand strong until the type of man she needs comes to her.
An explicit viewpoint on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Army policy was given by Spc. Stephanie Vinson, of Raleigh, N.C., She said she wanted to speak objectively on the subject to provoke a response that may bring about a change.
Laughter, ohs and ahs, and the popping of fingers filled the air as Soldiers listened.
"This was an experience above others," said Witherspoon. "Poetry night serves as an outlet for expression, emotion and recognition of significant events. It allows us to open the door to our thoughts."
Date Posted:01.23.2010 20:18
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