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‘Enough’ Showcases Poetry And Protest Art

In the days following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, St. Louis-born poet and activist Ronald Montgomery happened upon the inspiration for his latest project in an unlikely place: a news interview with a corporate executive.

Randall Stephenson, who was CEO of AT&T at the time, publicly urged corporate America to step up and leverage its influence to address systemic racism. As a contractor for AT&T himself, Montgomery was proud to hear those remarks — and wanted Stephenson to know it.

Soon, Montgomery was giving talks within the AT&T organization about the work it takes to combat racism and push for progress. But it didn’t feel sufficient.

“I thought it was incumbent on me to actually do" what he was talking about, he told St. Louis on the Air. “I could not just sit around and do nothing.”

Montgomery flew to Minneapolis to visit the place where Floyd died. Then he headed to Washington to march with other protesters in the nation’s capital. And the weekend after that he was in Portland, Oregon, where the uprising for Black lives continued to gain steam this summer.

When he got home, he had a huge number of photographs — and a plan for putting them to powerful use. Sharing them with other writers in his circles, Montgomery asked each of them to pick five to seven pictures and “write to the messages of the protesters.” The effort took off from there. Six months later, it’s all come to fruition in the form of the newly released volume “Enough: Say Their Names…,” a 226-page, full-color compilation of protest art and poetry.

The book includes striking work by a handful photographers, eight authors and a designer, all of whom donated their talents and time to the cause. It also features the ringing endorsement of Nikki Giovanni, one of America’s foremost poets.

Giovanni’s response to an early draft now adorns the book’s back cover:

“As much as this may make you angry or, in reality, hurt your heart. As much as you may wish your fellow and sister Americans were better people but recognizing they are not. As much as you ask the Lord to forgive you for your hate, this is a book you should read. You will not get ENOUGH of the truth.”

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Montgomery about the book and the hopes he and his co-authors have for it. Several other poets whose pieces appear in the volume also shared their pieces on the air and in online extras. You can listen to them below:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

‘Enough’ Showcases Poetry And Protest Art
‘Enough’ Showcases Poetry And Protest Art
‘Enough’ Showcases Poetry And Protest Art
‘Enough’ Showcases Poetry And Protest Art
‘Enough’ Showcases Poetry And Protest Art

Evie Hemphill joined the St. Louis on the Air team in February 2018. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 2005, she started her career as a reporter for the Westminster Window in Colorado. Several years later she went on to pursue graduate work in creative writing at the University of Wyoming and moved to St. Louis upon earning an MFA in the spring of 2010. She worked as writer and editor for Washington University Libraries until 2014 and then spent several more years in public relations for the University of Missouri–St. Louis before making the shift to St. Louis Public Radio.