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Center for Poets and Writers panel discusses how poetry lifts marginalized voices

Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A poetry panel hosts a virtual conversation on How Poetry Amplifies Marginalized Voices.

A panel of poets with Tulsa ties joined OSU faculty and fellow poets Quraysh Ali Lansana and Janine Joseph for a live discussion on How Poetry Lifts Marginalized Voices. Lansana is also the acting director of the Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation at OSU-Tulsa.

The discussion aired on the Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa Facebook page on Wednesday, April 21 and the panelists shared works that inspired them, discussed the power of poetry and read poems they authored.

After being introduced by Center for Poets and Writers director Dr. Lindsey Smith, the panel—composed of poets Eder Williams-McKnight, Phetote Mshari and Amairani Perez Chamu—discussed and answered questions moderated by Lansana and Joseph.


Throughout the conversation the poets performed live readings of the following works:

  • “For Your Information” by Ruth Forman, We Are the Young Magicians
  • “On Nationalism” by Jonathan Mendoza, The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext
  • “Eulogy to the Tulsa Martyrs” by A.J. Smitherman
  • “won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton
  • “Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits” by Martin Espada
  • “Modern Justice” by Amairani Perez-Chamu
  • “John Hope Notes” by Eder Williams-McKnight
  • “Tago Ng Tago (TNT)” by Janine Joseph, Driving Without a License
  • “Allies Activated: An Ode to Allies” by Phetote Mshari


The live discussion was created in honor National Poetry Month and to highlight how poets use poetry to speak on race, equity and justice. You can view the full discussion in the video below.



To learn more about the newly launched Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation at OSU-Tulsa, visit the TRHT website.

Browse upcoming workshops and events from the Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa on the center’s website


About the Poetry Panel 

Quraysh Ali Lansana

Quraysh Ali Lansana is author of twenty books in poetry, nonfiction and children’s literature. Lansana is currently a Tulsa Artist Fellow and serves as acting director of the Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, where he is also writer-in-residence for the Center for Poets and Writers and adjunct professor in Africana studies and English.

Lansana is creator and executive producer of KOSU/NPR’s Focus: Black Oklahoma monthly radio program. A former faculty member of both the Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, Lansana served as director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2012, and was associate professor of English/Creative Writing there until 2014.

His work Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy and Social Justice in Classroom & Community was published in March 2011 by the Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee. His most recent books include the skin of dreams: new and collected poems, 1995-2018, The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience & Change Agent (Haymarket Books, 2017) and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop (Haymarket Books, 2015). Lansana’s work appears in Best American Poetry 2019 and his forthcoming titles include Those Who Stayed: Life in 1921 Tulsa After the Massacre and Opal’s Greenwood Oasis. He is a founding member of Tri-City Collective.

Janine Joseph

Janine Joseph is a poet and librettist born in the Philippines. She is the author of Driving Without a License (Alice James Books), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, and Decade of the Brain, forthcoming in January 2023 from Alice James Books. Her poetry, essays, and critical writings have recently appeared in The Nation, The Georgia Review, Orion Magazine, Pleiades, The Atlantic, Copper Nickel, Poets & Writers, The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day series. A librettist, Joseph’s commissioned work for the Houston Grand Opera/HGOco include In Our Care, What Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline, “On This Muddy Water”: Voices from the Houston Ship Channel, and From My Mother's Mother. A MacDowell Fellow, she is an organizer for Undocupoets and serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Poets & Writers in Tulsa.

Amairani Perez Chamu

Amairani Perez Chamu is the Hispanic Resource Center Coordinator for Tulsa City-County Library, where she is in charge of managing the Spanish collection and programming for the Latinx community in East Tulsa. She serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the East Tulsa Main Street District and is a multidisciplinary artist in poetry and film.

Phetote Mshairi

Phetote Mshairi is an advocate for the power of Love, words, wisdom, and the evolution of the individual for the benefit of the collective. Poetry is his lifelong passion. Phetote is the owner of New Greenwood, LLC (publisher of RELEASE ME, the Spirits of Greenwood Speak); a Tulsa Artist Fellowship fellow; and a Greenwood Art Project (GAP) artist. He is a curator, performing artist, civil rights activist, poetry slam champion, award winning actor, author, copywriter, songwriter, host, and keynote speaker from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from Langston University. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity Inc. He mentors young people as a member of 100 Black Men of Tulsa. Phetote is on the Poetry/Spoken-word Committee at Living Arts of Tulsa. He conducts poetry workshops and occasionally participates in the Artist in the Schools program with ahha (formerly Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa). Phetote writes like righteousness and sin are at the whim of his pen.

Eder J. Williams McKnight

Eder J. Williams McKnight is an educator and poet residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma since 2014. She teaches at Holland Hall in the Upper School English department.  Eder has collaborated with local visual and performance artists to produce poems featuring Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre, which have been performed live in various venues and have appeared in Art Focus Oklahoma and Oklahoma Today. She received an M.F.A. in poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine in 2015.  She has produced two hand bound art books, But Move Not (2012) and A Burlap Bloom (2013) with artist Suzanne Sawyer of Down Home Girl Studio. 


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