"The rose that grew from concrete" by Tupac Shakur

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This month, the United States celebrates National Poetry Month, a national celebration of the rhythmic word. In honor of this glorious occasion, Voices will present some fresh takes on the art form.

Poetry is commentary.  While discussing the perception of Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, photographer Devin Allen explained, "It’s a beautiful place, it’s like a rose in concrete to me."  The "rose in concrete" metaphor is well-known to fans of Tupac Shakur, the rapper-actor-poet who died in 1996 and whose book of poetry, "The Rose that Grew from Concrete," was released posthumously in 1999 by MTV Books. The full text, via Genius:

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving nature's laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!


In 2000, famous artists, poets, and celebrities made a tribute album interpreting Shakur's poetry. Nikki Giovanni performed "A Rose that Grew from Concrete":

I am the rose/ this is the concrete/ these are my damaged petals. - Tupac Shakur