A Favorite Poem: A Scribe Called Quess? “Grounded by Sky: A Southern Epitaph”
Why do you like this poem?
In 2015 I became involved with a movement called Take 'Em Down NOLA (TEDN), a coalition of community members committed to the removal of ALL symbols of white supremacy in New Orleans as a part of a broader push for racial & economic justice. A Scribe Called Quess? was part of the foundation of that coalition. I've never told him this, but I knew of him long before I first marched in the streets of the French Quarter with TEDN. About a year before, I went to a spoken word night where he gave an impromptu reading. It was my first live experience with spoken word. I'd always reserved a slow, solitary space for experiencing poetry, but this was not that kind of space. It was very much alive. Parts of the evening were languid, other parts extremely urgent. Multiple generations of folks shuffled in and out, enjoying juice and snacks, nodding to the various performers. The experience of poetry, I learned, could be about community, laughter, and pain, all at once. This is what we all bring to struggles for justice. So as a thank you for his words, art, leadership, and most importantly, friendship, I wanted to illustrate them, and also give something of myself. The animated images are archival materials collected over the years from my own writing and research in Louisiana. Think of this animation as a gift exchange between comrades.
Robin McDowell is originally from Cottekill, New York. Currently, she floats between Cambridge, Massachusetts & New Orleans, Louisiana, as she completes her Ph.D. in African & African American Studies. She is a freelance graphic designer and French Quarter tour guide.