North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green is preparing to release her first record, The River Speaks of Thirst, on Soul City Sounds. The album manifests the music that is always inherent in Green’s award-winning verse as she performs it with instrumentation.

Though the album doesn’t come out until June 19—that is, Juneteenth—Green just released one track from it that speaks to the murder of George Floyd in the piercing but consoling way that only poetry can.

According to Green, she wrote “Oh My Brother” several years ago for a “Poetry of Lamentation” online anthology that was created to memorialize the victims of police murders and give solace to their families.

The poem begins by invoking the names of Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin before Green spins a lyrical lament for seven minutes over a riff as relentless as the deaths of Black men.

“Again, writers, musicians, dancers, sculptors, and all artists are called upon to use our creativity to declare, agitate, and resist,” Green says in the text accompanying the video. “We will not perish as long as we remember the righteous fire and light inside our artistic utterances.”

Watch it below, and pre-order the album from Green’s Bandcamp page, where you can also hear another track, the hip-hop-oriented “A Litany for the Possessed,” featuring Shirlette Ammons.

YouTube video

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