The Great Migration
By: Mary Anne Fitzpatrick
The most daring and creative presentation I witnessed this past week was by Curtis R. Rogers, Ph.D.
Many of us know Curtis as the successful and energetic Communications Director of the South Carolina State Library and a member of the Board of Governors of the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Two South Carolina poets were inducted into the Academy on Saturday evening. Their poetry has been recognized nationally and internationally. Indeed, each poet has recently won a National Book Award for Poetry. Curtis had the honor of inducting Nikky Finney who joins the faculty of Arts and Sciences in the fall as the John H. Bennett, Jr, Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters in the Department of English Language and Literature and the African American Studies Program (nikkyfinney.net).
Professor Finney inspired Curtis to craft and read a poem in her honor, titled The Great Migration. Here is that poem.
The Ringing Ear only I seem to hear
Beckons me back, back to where my heart was born.
The mainstay of my beginnings.
Coming back home, to the home I’ve missed,
And to the home that has missed me.
I know The World is Round
Round like pinwheels twisting precious metal radiating outward.
My world has been missing my craft
Beckoning, coaxing, demanding me to come home to
Where does my heart feel best?
Where will it rest?
Where the trees of my forest wait for me to come back,
come back home.
In the heart of the woods, where the branches hold my heart
My Heartwood - My continued inspiration.
Back home, there’s a heritage in the wake of trials, tussles,
Combat and conflict.
Stories still swarming with love, despair, desperation.
Stories about the hard life -
Stories about working the fields,
making a life out of another man’s doing
farming corn, cotton.
Not my own, but another man’s.
I want to get home -
I’ll fly - fly as fast as I can
On Wings made of Gauze
like the condor surfing thermals
taking time to plot a path,
taking time to recalibrate-
I’m leaving a part of my life behind as I
Head off and Split one place for the next.
Maybe there will be something I remember
as I explore my path lined with live oaks whose limbs are loaded down with the weight of tillandsia
I’m welcomed with
Sad to leave, but happy start again.
My old friend.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to induct Nikky Finney into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
By Dr. Curtis R. Rogers, Communications Director, SC State Library