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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU’s Remica Bingham-Risher Participates in Celebration of African American Poet Laureates

By Joe Garvey

Remica Bingham-Risher, director of quality enhancement plan initiatives at Old Dominion University and an award-winning poet, recently participated in a gala at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture honoring America's three living black Poet Laureates - Rita Dove, Natasha Trethewey and Tracy K. Smith.

Bingham-Risher read two poems at the event: "Solstice" and "Young, small and growing, often violently." They are both from her most recent book, "Starlight & Error," which won the Diode Editions Book Award and was published in 2017.

"I was grateful to be asked and to be a part of this celebration and especially this community of writers," Bingham-Risher said. "So many of us have grown up together and made a way into the literary world word by word, book by book. So many others there were the poets I read as a young woman, poets who comforted and bolstered me long before I ever dreamt of being a writer. Being among them - in that space - was truly a gift."

The event was organized by the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. In recognition of the group's 25th anniversary, Bingham-Risher and 24 other poets were invited to read in honor of Dove, Trethewey and Smith.

"The event was like a dream," Bingham-Risher said. "All of the poets spent the morning roving the museum's exhibits and finding glimpses of ourselves everywhere in people's extraordinary living."

As dusk fell, the Washington Monument provided the backdrop to Heritage Hall as the museum's entryway was transformed into a theater.

"There were hundreds in the audience, just a sea of shining faces, when we climbed the podium to read our work," Bingham-Risher said. "Hearing 25 poets read in honor of the elders before us and the ancestors around us was overwhelming. We felt full and fortunate to witness the event and the history in front of us."

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