the Colored page
Poetry by Matthew E. Henry
Sundress Publications, July 2022
From the author of Teaching While Black (Main Street Rag), the Colored page by Michael E. Henry (MEH) is a visceral meditation on the multi-layered experience of a Black body in educational spaces. Sprawling with metaphors and allusions to both the contemporary and the historic, Henry brings readers an intense narrative chronicle of the speaker’s life as student, educator, and finally as a writer. At the center, there is a reckoning with the racism written into the pages of America, and Henry leads us from the microaggressions of educational oversight to the horror of blatant dehumanization. In pieces that directly call out those responsible—educators, institutions, and peers alike—the speaker moves via Henry’s generously vivid poems through open letters, vignettes, and poetic narratives that uncover the realities of an educator’s life’s work in the “United” States today. In a world that so often seeks to minimize Black experiences, the Colored page does not inflate, but neither does it look away. Yet, too, there is joy in these pages. Henry invites us to love, but please don’t touch, the beauty of Black hair, of Black lives, and of our Black students. Henry asks us to look at the vile and call it out, but then we are tasked to shift our focus to the glory that is the student who triumphs. Henry invites us, ultimately, to a celebration.