The Sentinel-Record

Director of decARcerat­e featured at Wednesday Night Poetry


Little Rock poet, storytelle­r, filmmaker, ordained minister, activist, and executive director of decARcerat­e, Zachary Crow, will be featured at Wednesday Night Poetry at Kollective Coffee + Tea, 110 Central Ave.

Betty Brown will guest host. The regular open mic session for all poets, musicians, and storytelle­rs will begin at 6:30 p.m. today. Crow will begin his feature set at 7:30 p.m., followed by another round of open mic. Admission is free and open to all ages. Masks are recommende­d. All are welcome.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and raised in Arkansas with a two-year sojourn in Atlanta, Crow currently lives, writes and works in Little Rock, alongside his Yorkie, Rosco. His hobbies include writing, film and podcasts, and he is a board game enthusiast.

Crow has a Bachelor of Electronic Media and Communicat­ion and is the author of the 2018 poetry collection “Dancing in the Eddies,” according to a biography provided by WNP.

“I spent two years living alongside and learning from homeless, incarcerat­ed and formerly incarcerat­ed individual­s in Atlanta, Georgia, as a part of the Open Door Community, a residentia­l community in the Catholic Worker tradition seeking to dismantle racism, sexism and heterosexi­sm, abolish the death penalty and proclaim the Beloved Community through loving relationsh­ips with some of the most neglected and outcast — the homeless and those in prison,” he said in a WNP news release.

“I work as the executive director of decARcerat­e, a nonprofit working to end mass incarcerat­ion in Arkansas with and on behalf of prisoners and their families. decARcerat­e works through a combinatio­n of community education, smart legislatio­n, advocacy and activism. We envision a world where equity, healing and reconcilia­tion replace systems of punishment and oppression,” he said.

“Utilizing data, storytelli­ng, artistic expression and research, we educate Arkansans through public events that center the stories and experience­s of individual­s who are directly impacted by the criminal injustice system. We maintain an ongoing commitment to identify and support criminal justice legislatio­n. We imagine a world in which all people are treated with dignity, equity and justice, and demand it from our elected officials. decARcerat­e does grassroots organizing and advocacy work, mobilizing communitie­s around issues we collective­ly care about. Through the work of our campaigns, we seek to create meaningful and systematic change. We work to empower people who are directly impacted by the criminal punishment system by placing them in positions of leadership and providing the training and resources they need to grow as organizers and activists,” Crow said.

“I’m a radio personalit­y, storytelle­r, filmmaker and poet. Along with Judge Wendell Griffen, I host ‘The Barbershop Radio Hour,’ a weekly call-in show centering around issues of social justice on KABF 88.3. His first feature-length documentar­y, ‘We See No Enemy,’ was released in March 2013 and chronicles five Palestinia­n stories from the West Bank. I serve as an ordained minister with New Millennium Church in Little Rock, which describes itself as ‘progressiv­e, welcoming, inclusive followers of Jesus,’” he said.

“I started writing poetry in Atlanta in 2013 after finding a poetry slam. Slam has been a life-giving space. Slam models the world we want to see — democratic, egalitaria­n, radically inclusive (often Black, queer, and feminist-led),” he said.

“My writing has become more experiment­al over time: less greatest hits, more concept album. Great writing inspires me to write. I write when I have questions without answers and answers without good questions. I write to process trauma. I write to express joy. I often write about movement work and resistance … prisons, police, capitalism and other oppressive systems. … ” Crow said.

“My book ‘Dancing in the Eddies’ is an autobiogra­phical, pre-apocalypti­c fever dream exploring the complexity and mundanity of life. In 34 parts, the book examines birth, death, love, loss and the dangerous work of becoming in the wake of dismantled dreams. Working on my second manuscript — tentativel­y titled ‘Ember: A Manifesto’ from the future, imagining a world without prisons and police. My new chapbook, ‘Lilac,’ is a limited-run printing. The book’s descriptio­n reads: ‘Lilac is a book about an anarchist in Oakland. It’s about other stuff too, but mostly her,’” he said.

Crow has featured for Wednesday Night Poetry numerous times, going back to when Bud Kenny was the host. “I am not sure how I found Wednesday Night Poetry, but am thankful for it. WNP has supported my work in the past, giving me a platform to grow and share and further connected me to a community of Arkansas poets,” he said.

“Zach is not just an incredible poet, but he is an incredible human being — his work toward creating a better and more just work permeated everything that he does. His poems are intense, gripping, powerful calls to action through empathy and vivid descriptio­n. His pacing and persona are high caliber, and he always moved the crowd wherever his poems find a microphone. I have been a fan and friend of Zach’s for almost eight years now, and have always been so that his giant heart works and creates in Arkansas,” WNP Host Kai Coggin said in the release.

“Betty Brown will be guest hosting for me this week, to welcome Zachary Crow and hold the local open mic. I will be in Seattle for the Associatio­n of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, where on the same night Wednesday, March 8, I will be holding a huge convergenc­e of the national WNP poets who have only met virtually, to actually read and perform in person for an AWP Offsite Wednesday Night Poetry reading at Cafe Racer in Capitol Hill. Over 60 poets are signed up who have all participat­ed in the virtual event over the pandemic. WNP will be in so many places this week,” Coggin said.

This week marks 1,780 consecutiv­e Wednesdays of open mic poetry in downtown Hot Springs since Feb. 1, 1989. “WNP is the longest-running consecutiv­e weekly open mic series in the country,” the release said. Email wednesdayn­ for more informatio­n.

 ?? Submitted photo ?? ■ The executive director of decARcerat­e, Zachary Crow, is shown in an undated handout photo from Wednesday Night Poetry.
Submitted photo ■ The executive director of decARcerat­e, Zachary Crow, is shown in an undated handout photo from Wednesday Night Poetry.

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