Friday, February 6th, I swung by Uncorked to hear John Burton (John Dayo-Aliya) read some poetry from his upcoming chapbook. Burton is a local poet, actor, singer, and playwright who doubles as a Research Assistant at Kent State University’s Pan-African Studies Department.
He has quite the impressive resume. A few of his achievements include being one of the opening acts for HBO’s Def Jam Poetry, acting in several touring productions such as The Wiz, Godspell, and Guys and Dolls, was first runner-up in the 2010 Northeast Ohio Umuji poetry slam, and performing at famous venues such as New York City’s Nuyorican Poetry Café.
Many of the poems he performed that night revolved around issues of race in America. There were a few that really stood out to me. One dealt with abortion and the quest for love. It was as disturbing as it was thought-provoking. Another was about the state of society and I really enjoyed the line “turns out the revolution is televised.” I think my favorite would have to be the poem about not wanting to write another poem about a dead black boy/man. The line that really called to me was “I will not sing lullabies for dead men.”
Burton is a captivating performer. His use of voices, his stage presence, and his ability to provide a bit of comedy relief in between incredibly intense material makes him truly stand out. I enjoyed every bit of it.
This week, The University of Akron is hosting a daily event called Rethinking Race which looks to educate and promote dialogue between races. Ma’Sue Productions’ critically acclaimed play “…Or Does It Explode?”, co-written and directed by Burton, will be showing on Thursday, February 12th, at The University of Akron’s Paul Daum Theatre at 7pm. The play “touches upon subjects such as the murdering of young African-American men as well as the psychological paradigms surrounding a culture of discrimination.” (Source)
It is a free event and I don’t think you’re going to want to miss it.
Thanks for reading,