To capture Martin Luther King Jr. as he is speaking…
One could watch a video of him in action…
Or listen to a recording…
Or imagine a voice while reading a book in his words….
But his essence, that flesh-and-blood, you-are-there sense is just not there.
That presence is illusive, save for a time machine of our imagination.
But even a time machine could not distill in the way of a poet.
At an event Wednesday night, a sense of and a sensibility of Martin Luther King Jr. radiated again through another being.
What happened might be called a performance.
But it was something other.
A man of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fabric spoke his words from a Birmingham jail, from a lecture at Stanford, from in front of a middle school class in Philadelphia, from Selma, from the steps of the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C.
The words were “I had a dream” and much more.
The man of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fabric infused Martin Luther King Jr.’s words with his own of like-mindedness.
“Where’s good’s dogged drive to push out the dark?”
“Mediocrity can get the best of us.”
“Let’s not forget the mission, let’s not forget the goal.”
“When you call terror and hate by name, the crowd grows small.”
“Time does not heal segregation… Equity is what heals that.”
On martyrdom: “If no change come from it, you’re murdered.”
On the metaphor of a drum major, “being out there, being first, being special… How great can we serve this world? How much can I give to this world?”
“If this be the hill I die on, it better be a mountaintop.”
The fusion came from Harold Green, one of the guest artists in this year’s Door Kinetic Arts Festival held in Bjorklunden lodge a stone’s throw from the shore of Lake Michigan.
Harold Green’s art is words. His palette included a description of Martin Luther King Jr. as “altruistic” – selfless.
His palette included analysis. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech is “unfortunate” to Harold Green in “the very basic thing he’s asking for. If he is not a man of color, he would not have to be asking.”
The aura of oration, of thinking, of inspiring, of being propelled and propelling filled the space of the presentation – a great room steeped in Scandinavian ambience (and audience complexion) that is quite distant from Harold Green’s origins of the south side of Chicago.
There were two major points of fascination.
One was the brush with the presence of greatness by Harold Green in his welding of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. with his own.
Another was the act of completion. The festival did what founder Eric Simonson envisioned it doing, being an incubator for creativity. A premise is this: Bring in artists for a week and clear the boards for them to focus on a piece that they will then present publicly.
Going into this year’s festival, one of the titles on the program was “Dr. Martin Luther Green III.” I wondered what that could be about, that intriguing blending. Turns out, Harold Green coming to Bjorklunden probably wondered what the final thing would be, too.
“Before coming here, I only had two pieces,” Harold Green told the audience following his presentation. He spoke of holing up in his room, writing four poems a night and preparing his presentation – which was nearly an hour from memory.
Harold Green received a standing ovation from the audience of approximately 50.
Harold Green stood, clearly moved.
“This is really exciting for me,” he told the audience. “I’ve been wanting to finish this series for a couple of years.”
In the series are sermons and lectures of Martin Luther King Jr. as chosen and then taken to another level by Harold Green – “temporary interpretation while trying to keep them as timeless as possible” he called what he does.
Someone asked Harold Green what his dream is.
“This is a dream,” he said of the evening and the response from an audience not of Martin Luther King Jr.’s choir yet keenly receptive.
In a sense, the festival about creativity allowed an audience to enter the mind of Martin Luther King Jr. and experience his being through the voice and language and body English and passion of Harold Green.
To capture Martin Luther King Jr. as he is speaking… ahhhhh.
The festival continues to Friday. More about it at doorkinetic.com and here: https://www.wearegreenbay.com/critic-at-large-wearegreenbay/warren-gerdscritic-at-large-creativity-again-the-byword-of-2019-dkaf-near-baileys-harbor/2045590741.
Contact me at email@example.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays. My seven books are available in Green Bay at Neville Public Museum and Bosse’s.