Two fathers use poems to teach their kids about growing up black in America

by ELIZABETH FLOCK

From: PBS Newshour

floodgate3-printcover-1When poets Geffrey Davis and F. Douglas Brown first met at a poetry retreat in 2012, they instantly connected in discussing fatherhood and the poetry that sprang from that experience. Over time, that relationship grew, and they began writing poetry that came directly out of their conversations. Soon, they were even borrowing each other’s lines or writing stanzas or whole poems back and forth, as a kind of call and response.

And in November, they published their first series of co-written poems, in a chapbook called “Begotten,” which was published by Upper Rubber books. These poems explore with tenderness and anxiety the joys and perils of being a father — especially a black father — and how to escape the mistakes of past generations.

“We like to say that we kind of beg, borrow and steal,” said Brown. “We beg one another to become better fathers, through the work and our conversations. We borrow from the things we are reading, and other people who are working with the same themes. And we steal from one another.”

Davis, who is 33 and has a five-year-old son, said that as a younger father he has often looked to Brown, who is 44 and has two teenaged children, a son and daughter, for answers. “I felt blessed to have this chance to cultivate questions about doubts, worries, and wonders about what it means to be a father,” said Davis, both in conversations with Brown, and in their resulting poetry.

In “Begotten,” many of the poems look forward, to convey advice to a son, or explore how a father can best help a child navigate racism or understand sexuality. Others look backwards, to their own fathers and the fears they have of inheriting the violence that came before. A number of the poems do both. Read Rest of Article Here

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