Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.
In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.
In this episode, I’m at my home in LA with Derik Smith, a professor in the Department of Literature at Claremont McKenna College in California, and his work focuses on African American literary culture, with a particular interest in poetry. We talk about African American poet and Baha’i, Robert Hayden, plus we look at the concept of black people being likened to the “pupil of the eye” in the Baha’i Writings. We also discuss racism, the prison system, constructive resilience, and the role each one of us can play in ensuring individual and social transformation and justice. I hope you enjoy the conversation!
Dr. Smith also teaches and writes about representations of blackness in American film and musical culture. His 2018 monograph, Robert Hayden In Verse: New Histories of African American Poetry and the Black Arts Era, recently won the College Language Association’s annual book award. His current scholarship focuses on the poetics of rap, and the rise of the genre during the final decades of the twentieth century, as well as the connection between critical race studies and the Baha’i Faith. Smith regularly teaches courses in American prisons and nurtures activist interests in prison studies and pedagogy. He and his family live in Southern California, USA.
To find out more about Derik Smith and some of the things we covered in this episode, check out the following links:
“Thou art like unto the pupil of the eye which is dark in color, yet it is the fount of light and the revealer of the contingent world”. –Abdu’l-Baha
i. Robert Hayden in Verse: New Histories of African American Poetry and the Black Arts Era by Derik Smith.
ii. The Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan) by Baha’u’llah.
iii. The Dawn-Breakers by Nabil-i-Azam. (Baha’i Blog article: An Introduction to ‘The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil’s Narrative’)
iv. God Passes By by Shoghi Effendi
v. The Most Holy Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas by Baha’u’llah
vi. The Advent of Divine Justice by Shoghi Effendi
vii. Tablets of Baha’u’llah by Baha’u’llah.
viii. The Writings and Talks of Abdu’l-Baha by Abdu’l-Baha.
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Thanks for listening!