In the opening of Michael Dennis’s 2008 documentary Poet, a small cadre of pioneering poets and artists, including Saul Williams and Gil Scott-Heron, share thoughts about the nature of art, poetry, and the human condition. At one point, activist and poet Sonia Sanchez discusses the role of art in the 21st century and asks the viewer, “What does it mean to be human?” She concludes, “An artist answers that question.” Sanchez poses the question in an attempt to get to the core of what it means to be a poet. In essence, she is talking about the film’s primary subject, Philly-born poet and recording artist Ursula Rucker.
On Wednesday, April 24, in honor of National Poetry Month, Rucker is set to perform at the Kimmel Center’s Sittin’ In Live Sessions. Sittin’ In is a free monthly event where some of the city’s finest musicians and poets take center stage. From her scene-stealing guest appearances on the Roots' early albums through her own masterful solo releases, Supa Sista and Ma’at Mama, and her acclaimed one-woman show, My Father’s Daughter, Rucker has established herself as a vital artistic voice over the course of the past three decades.
A 2018 Pew Fellowship award winner, Rucker’s poems are intimate portraits that explore the core of what it means to be human. Her works, like the downtempo classic “Circle”, “The Return to Innocence Lost” and “L.O.V.E.” are infused with both a deep spiritual tenderness and revolutionary fire.
In keeping with Sittin’ In’s reputation as an open platform for a wide range of artists, Rucker has packed this month’s edition with a deep roster of performers. MC and activist Geri Omni, Wordz the Poet Emcee, MC/multi-instrumentalist Khemist, and visual artist Anthony Carlos Molden are scheduled to appear.
Rucker promises an evening filled with “All poets! All visionaries!”
Doors open at 8 pm and the show begins at 9 pm at the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza, 300 South Broad Street.