Poet Shirlette Ammons Visits Lehigh

Shirlette Ammons is a poet musician whose voice was heard by Lehigh on Thursday October 9, in the Zoellner Arts Center.  She is a woman from North Carolina who “does it all,” from vocals and writing to films and free-lance.  At her performance, she read her poetry, performed work from her album, “Black Renaissance,” and answered questions from the audience.  The theme/focus of this evening was her language barrier because she “can write, but can’t sing.”Ammons began with poetry, which had many different inspirations and messages behind the work.  Her first piece, “Love as an Act of Resistance,” was inspired by songs from the Indigo Girls.  The message was about the different ways love defies the odds: class, age, gender, etc.  Other pieces included a piece for her twin sister (“Ain’t no Shame from Matching Skin), a piece about the struggle for equality (“History Makes Concessions for White Boys") a coming out poem (“Boy Clothes),  a poem for Harry Whittaker (“The Whole Other Me of Jazz), and a poem mocking her English teacher (“Slick Shit Poetry Practice). Each poem was quickly spoken, but they had repetitious lines which I felt helped the listener understand what the primary focus of each poem was.  Her work was off-beat and very interesting to listen to as each piece was different. If you didn’t listen closely, you could miss the whole thing!The rap portion of the evening was really fun and incredibly fast-paced.  She spoke so clearly and yet her words were racing out of her mouth.  This started off with a piece called “John Anonymous,” followed by “Late Night Slow Dance,” as well as, “Dangerous.”  The pieces she chose to rap kept every one of the edge of their seats.A few audience members stood up and asked questions, and everyone was very complimentary of her work and the message she was sharing with the Lehigh Community.  She spoke more about how school and church has influenced her rhythms of choice and the lyrics she chooses for her rap pieces.  Shirlette Ammons was an amazing performer, and I hope to see her name appear on the Zoellner Arts Center program in the near future!-Amy Roland, '15