I am still processing the love and kind words spoken about Phebus. Dante Micheaux, arranged a wonderful evening of celebration at New York University’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers’ House on Friday night. Poets Sarah Gambito, Aracelis Girmay, Joseph O. Legaspi, Vikas Menon, Dante Micheaux, Khalil Murrell, Mendi Obadike, Gregory Pardlo, Evie Shockley, and Ron Villanueva filled the night with stories and recollections, as well as Phebus’ brave poems. I was happy to be included as one of the readers.
We selected poems in Phebus’ unpublished manuscript titled Chainstitching, reading in the order that the poems appeared in her collection, which gave the evening its flow. The emotions ran from joyous to somber and back to joy again—in no small part to the loving musical tribute that Mendi and her husband brought to the evening (THANK YOU!).
I think each of us felt that we got a little closer to Phebus by sitting with her words. And then to speak about her, for her—it just felt good to be able to praise her instead of mourning her loss.
Being there with so many wonderful poets, and being back at my old stomping grounds, NYU, renewed my spirit. I have her to thank for that.
My one wish for Phebus' legacy is that her manuscript gets published someday.