Common Threads

This program took place January 19, 2023

Exploring American Ideals

Join Revolutionary Spaces, WGBH Forum Network, Boston’s poet laureate Porsha Olayiwola, and experts in the cultural and historical landscape to explore the enduring question, “What ideals should bind us together as a nation?”

In September 2022, Revolutionary Spaces engaged Boston’s poet laureate, Porsha Olayiwola, to write a poem inspired by the words of our community. Join this revolutionary group of thought leaders online as Porsha shares her work and we engage in a lively panel discussion about the ideology through which we find fraternity and national identity.

This transformative, virtual program is supported through the generosity of the Lowell Institute, the New England Women’s Club Fund. It is also supported in part by funding from Mass Humanities, made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan.

This program is a co-production with WGBH Forum Network.


    • PORSHA OLAYIWOLA is a writer, performer, educator and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the founder of the Roxbury Poetry Festival. Olayiwola is Brown University’s 2019 Heimark Artist -In -Residence as well as the 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. She is a 2020 poet laureate fellow with the Academy of American poets. Olayiwola earned her MFA in poetry from Emerson College and is the author of i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston. Her work can be found in or forthcoming from with TriQuarterly Magazine, Black Warrior Review, The Boston Globe, Essence Magazine, Redivider, The Academy of American Poets, Netflix, Wildness Press, The Museum of Fine Arts and elsewhere.
    • BENJAMIN CARP is a professor in CUNY’s Graduate Center where he focuses particularly on urban politics, society, and culture in eighteenth-century America. He has taught survey and seminar courses on American military history to 1900, colonial American history, Revolutionary American history, women in early America, and fear and violence in early America. His books include the forthcoming The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (2010), and Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution (2007).
    • CHARLES COE is a poet, prose writer, teacher of writing, and a musician. His books include All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents and Picnic on the Moon, both published by Leapfrog Press, as well as Spin Cycles, a novella published by Gemma Media. He received a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a “Boston Literary Light in 2014.” In 2017 he was an Artist-in-Residence for the city of Boston. Charles served as poet-in-residence at Wheaton College and at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. He has also taught in Dingle, Ireland for the Bay Path University MFA Abroad program. He is an adjunct professor of English at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, teaching poetry and nonfiction in the low-residency MFA program. Charles currently serves on the Board of Revolutionary Spaces.
    • DARREN COLE seeks to blend emerging technologies with contemporary art practices through the form of site specific research. As a film and video professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, he created performance based work using 16mm film and interactive video. He was the first-ever Digital Storyteller at Boston City Hall, Art New England Magazine nominated him as one of the top emerging artists of 2019, and as an artist fellow at Revolutionary Spaces, his installation “When Up, Look Down” was on view at Old South Meeting House 2021-2022

    In the Enduring Questions Series, we bring together diverse panels to explore six enduring questions that both the nation’s founders and contemporary Americans still grapple with today and discover how these keystones illuminate current events.

    Click here to learn more about this series and the Enduring Questions.

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