Celebrating Black Poetry

Black Poetry Day

Reading Comprehension for October 18

In honor of Black Poetry Day, members of the Celebrate Poetry Society staged a reading of poems written by African-American poets. An announcement on the radio invited all poetry lovers to come to the event. They were meeting in the back of a large bookstore, where a small platform had been placed. On it stood a lonely microphone. All around were folding chairs for the audience. Browsing customers could also stop to enjoy the readings.

Those club members who had volunteered to perform were huddled in a corner, nervous and excited.

"I think I'm gonna throw up," Chad Wendell confessed.

"I may faint," Flora Todd replied.

"I'm going to knock their socks off!" declared Jeffrey Barton, oozing with confidence.

Before anyone else had a chance to express fears, the program coordinator took over and welcomed their guests. Soon the poetry recitations were underway.

Jeffrey Barton went first. He cleared his throat and opened his mouth. His mind went blank. In panic he froze and then looked wildly around for the coordinator. She mouthed the word "sympathy," and Jeffrey's thoughts returned. "I'm going to present part of a poem called 'Sympathy,' " he said. "It was written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar. He was only 33 years old when he died more than 100 years ago.

"I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,

When he beats his bars and would be free;

It is not a carol of joy or glee,

But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings -

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