This morning Marcus Amaker and South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth read their collaborative poem, Reimagining History, at Mayor Tecklenburg’s inauguration. We talked to Amaker after the reading and he was still riding high from the morning’s momentum. 

“It was surreal,” says Amaker. He and Wentworth wrote the poem together, via email, last month, which is apparently easier than it sounds. “I’ve known her for a long time as a mentor,” Amaker says of Wentworth. “We’ve got an unspoken rhythm in our work and our personalities.”

The poem’s second stanza starts with, “Hours crumble in the soil of Hampton Park,” and Amaker says that the park, a place where he often writes, played a big role in Reimagining History‘s inspiration. The poem addresses Charleston’s past, present, and future and according to Amaker — the future looks bright. “It’s a real conversation about everything [and] the future does seem very hopeful,” he says. 

Amaker says that while he’s rarely been commissioned to write a poem — Tecklenburg first approached Amaker and Wentworth after last year’s benefit concert for Emanuel AME — he’s more than ready to write more for the mayor. “I would love for poetry to be a part of his tenure here,” he says. 

Reimagining History
By Marcus Amaker and Marjory Wentworth 

Though Charleston is a shrine to the past,
where every alleyway and weather-worn road
tells the story of a city resurrected;
time is never standing still.
Running beneath the surface
are fault lines of our own making,
reshaping memory brick by brick.

Hours crumble in the soil of Hampton Park,
where horses ran laps for sport,
and Union soldiers were laid to rest,
honored as “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
Now, a statue of Denmark Vesey stands
in this place named for a confederate general,
as flowers bloom among the ruins.

This year, we’ve done laps around despair;
and we’ve grown tired of running in circles
so we stepped off the track and began to walk.
As the earth shifted beneath our feet,
we moved forward together. Our hearts
unhinged, guide us toward a city
remade by love, into a future
that our past could never have imagined,
beginning today.

Read more of Amaker’s poems and download his poetry app here. 

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