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Poetry with purpose

More Poetry Stories

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Ron Allen: Portrait of a cultural worker

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More from Peter Markus

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An interview with Dennis Teichman, publisher of Past Tents Press

Living within questions (6/13/2007)
Downriver’s Dan Featherston unearths our mysteries

Cupid comes to Detroit (3/14/2007)
Dawn McDuffie takes the city as her muse


Published 11/2/2005

There are poets, such as Emily Dickinson, who write to feed the beast of their internal universe. And then there are those other poets — such as Whitman, Neruda, Ginsberg, Pound, and more recently Sam Hamill and the whole Poets Against the War movement — who write driven by a purpose larger than the self.

Enter into this picture Alixa and Naima (aka Climbing Poetree), a two-tongued tag team from New York City who are in town this week wielding words as their weapons of choice to change and heal the world. The young poetic duo is armed with the fundamental beliefs that “Creativity is the antidote for violence and destruction” and art is a “voice to challenge injustice and the misrepresentations of mainstream media, a tool to rebuild our communities, a weapon to win the struggle for universal liberation.” Alixa and Naima are bringing their song for a fund-raising event for H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Prisoners Elevate), funds from which will support H.O.P.E.’s most noble mission to aid in the transformation of incarcerated adults into productive members of society by distributing literature to prisons.

There are those of us who wake up every day to the smell of coffee brewing in our kitchens, a smell we often take for granted, doing little to sing its praises. And then there are poets who, like Alixa and Naima, wake up to “the weight of the liberty bell on my chest/ and the birds that nestled there/ would not stop flapping.” That flapping sound is a selfless song of a double-throated duo whose singular voice deserves to be heard.


Alixa and Naima perform with Sterling Toles, MC Invincible and shadow puppeteer Erik Ruin at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10, at Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Center, 3535 Cass Ave., and at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, at Black Star Bookstore, 19140 Livernois Ave., Detroit. Call 313-841-3799 for info.

Peter Markus is a freelance writer. Send comments to

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