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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.

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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!

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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

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