Past, Poetry, & Futures: A Series of Talks with Clemonce Heard



Clemonce Heard talks about his experience living in north Tulsa while learning more about the race massacre that occurred there, and the censorship he confronted while trying to expand the conversation around it.

Between April 21 and 22, students and faculty alike had the opportunity to participate in a series of events about racism in America with guest speaker Clemonce Heard.

Heard is an award-winning poet from New Orleans, Louisiana, with works published in “The Missouri Review,” “World Literature Today,” and “Poetry” just to name a few. His 2021 publication “Tragic City” is a collection of poems centered around the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 and its modern-day repercussions. 

The first of three events within “Past, Poetry, and Futures,” centered around our memories of racial tragedies. The talk largely focused on Heard’s research into the Tulsa Race Massacre, in which 39 individuals died and more than 800 individuals were hospitalized. 

“It’s always different,” Heard said when asked about his experience speaking at institutions across Oklahoma and Texas. “I mean, some audiences are on it. They’re like, ‘I know exactly what this is.’ That can be fun. Then, the other way around, it’s like they’re just learning. That’s nice too, to just say ‘okay, well, you’re just getting this information. Let’s get you on a path to learning some more.’ ”

The Tulsa Race Massacre is widely unknown and unmentioned. These series of talks, put together by the Departments of Humanities and English, were an opportunity to spread awareness about the tragedy and develop larger conversations it’s associated with. 

Later that evening, Heard performed a reading of his poem, “Salon,” in the University Center Tejas Lounge. The series wrapped up with a discussion about depictions of race in popular fiction, specifically with HBO’s “Watchmen,” in Bay Hall.

“I have abounding gratitude,” Heard said. “Everyone was so attentive, and I heard some side conversations… That type of engagement, you don’t see that everywhere.” He also wanted to thank Dr. Sandrine Sanos, Professor of Modern European History, and Dr. Le’Trice Donaldson, Assistant Professor of History, for their help in organizing and running the events. 

“And,” Heard continued, “for being able to interact with y’all. I mean, this is a gift for me too.”

Clemonce Heard participated in the People Poetry Fest in Feb. and hopes to return to TAMU-CC  in the future. Check out his website at to stay up to date with his work, and keep up with TAMU-CC news to catch future events.