Nicollet Lanterns Alight!

Nicollet Lanterns, a series of magical illuminated sculptures by Blessing Hancock, was suspended between 6th and 8th Streets last week. Twelve spherical forms measuring four-feet in diameter, each has a unique design featuring the text of a poem by a Minneapolis writer. Moheb Soliman, Junauda Petrus, R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. (Nu’Eta) and Sagirah Shahid have each created three approximately 100-word poems especially for the lanterns. The poems celebrate each poet’s perspective, viewpoint and voice and speak to the city’s diversity.

Nicollet Mall Lantern unwrapped

Like an unwrapped gift, one of the Nicollet Lanterns awaits assembly and installation on the Mall.

Lines of poetry run horizontally around the globes and present an ever-changing visual experience. When viewed from different angles, new associations are created between words, and new meanings revealed.

Here are four original poems, in full; one by each artist, shown with the corresponding lantern.

Moheb Soliman

Nicollet Lanterns

Spring & trees
are X’ed in neon green
leaf tips luminescent with growing pains
budding in vain
in acute blight
Making do
Winter & trees
hang by their feet
in colored light
We all do
We’re going through a perennial time
dark & white
but we don’t wanna lie down
& make angels no more
what we do’s endure
Till summer trees
it’ll be a green light
jammed & bright
monotonous leaves
Can’t help but see the world in a colored light eh
when you want it all see-through
and you wanna be seen through
like when I say my skin is light
I mean you can read by me
I’m saying turn me on at night
Saying stop holding me in your prism
I mean I bruise easy blush easy love easy burn easy turn easy pass easy
Life the fall of trees
I’m the brown fluorescence

– Moheb Soliman     © 2016


Junauda Petrus

Nicollet Lanterns

Ancestorsong for the Brokenhearted Warriors

Baby. Love. Child
Luminous in your blood is hurricane survivals
Moonlit childbirths with shackled feet. Back. whip. lash. in you.
Men who know bush magic
Women who summon souls to this realm
And release souls from it
Your soul knows other rivers
This experiment
Obscure your soul in this machine
They will
Whisper you ghost in your own face
You as
Where they do dat at?
You see
We transcended the science. Long time.
They no know we
In us
Sweetness is here
Kissing all things. Broken or confused
You are safe. Universal. Limitless. Sacred.
Sensual. Divine. Free.

– Junauda Petrus        © 2016


R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. (Nu’Eta)

Nicollet Lanterns

As They Hurl Themselves Downtown To Shine Bold Beautiful Lights

Can you hear our youth?

They yell and chant while their voices
and hearts echo off the concrete veins
and this very mall. These young and bright
visionaries unite with hands up, arms
outstretched against newest tide of orange
flavored hate.

As we saw them clearing the streets
on The Ave, a wave of pride washes
over me for my high school and its current excellence as they hurl themselves
downtown to shine bold beautiful lights
at tyranny and deceit while their just birthed
fires boil ten thousand lakes.

Now is your time to stand as a beacon
of solidarity for our futures present.

Will you?

– R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. (Nu’Eta)       © 2016


Sagirah Shahid

Nicollet Lanterns

Peace be upon you
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah
body be a peephole into where I live how I live
surveillance is only an answer to questions
you wanted to find people you refuse to see
my skin is this nation’s consciousness
reminding on some level
we never wanted to be here
fattening up blood soaked pocketbooks
but what’s the plight of a slave if not to make due
dua for the unborn and bulletless
what’s the difference between a bird’s nest and potted roots yanked free
in this nice climate
I can’t wait for you to notice
my life is fear and muffled survivals

– Sagirah Shahid        © 2016


Eight other poems may be read here along with profiles of writers Junauda Petrus, Sagirah Shahid and Moheb Soliman. A profile of R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. (Nu’Eta) is coming in December.

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