From 92nd Street Y:
“So what if we were born up a creek and knocked flat with the paddle, if we ain’t got a pot to piss in and nowhere to put it if we did? Our situation is intolerable, but what’s worse is to sit here and do nothing. O yes. O mercy on our souls.”
Those are the words of the silver-tongued poet Rita Dove, who visited the 92nd Street Y Poetry Center in May, 1999 to read from her collection On the Bus with Rosa Parks. The passage comes from a poem titled “Our Situation is Intolerable” – and it’s one of a few that Dove read that night at 92Y.
In observance of Black History Month, we’d like to share with our readers the chance to hear not only the beautiful words of Rita Dove, but also recordings of readings by other great black writers. Those readings – including James Earl Jones (reading the poetry of Walt Whitman), Chinua Achebe, Jamaica Kincaid, Derek Walcott, Lucille Clifton, Terrance Hayes and Yusef Komunyakaa – can be found at 92Y Poetry Center’s Virtual Poetry Center.