Vera Beatty

Vera Beatty

“I am not dangerous, could file and hone myself into your spaces, but somehow I do not think they believe me, and pantyhose still don’t come in my shade.”

Vera Beatty
Photo: Furious Flower Conference Recordings, 1994

At the time of the 1994 conference, Adisa Vera Beatty, or Vera Beatty, as she was known at the time of the conference, had only been in the Dark Room Collective for a year. Beatty received her MFA from Brown University and later taught English at Medgar Evers College (CUNY). Beatty has contributed to publications such as Callaloo, Painted Bride Quarterly, Clutch Magazine, Culture List, and Spelman College’s L-I-N-K-E-D. Pursuing an academic career, she was selected for Howard University’s African Diaspora History Studies Ph.D. program. As a Ph.D. candidate, she received a 2016 Howard University Frederick Douglass Fellowship and was selected to be part of the inaugural cohort of ARCH (Archives, Research and Collaborative History) at Princeton University in 2018. In March 2019, she won the prestigious Sasakawa Fellowship that provides two years of full funding and a stipend.

Nat’s Lungs

How they cautiously ran down
the hospital corridors, lungs
and liver in a stainless steel
dish, rampant with cancer,
but not as bad as the “Duke’s”

How they placed the hands,
of the Negro with the golden
feathery light voice, tinged 
with raspiness, in the hand 
of the last real man, who ate
red meat, three times a day,
smoked Marlboro’s with no filter,
feared no sun and who sweats,
the permanent smell of gun powder

You two are joined, shallow pulses
and chests cut open, one set of 
organs switched for another, only
one of you can walk away from this
man made fate

Nat entered at the hospital’s Negro
entrance, and the “Duke” on the White
side, and it was the Black people that 
were convinced, the ones that knew
why, the “Duke” was breathing so good,
exhaling Negro breath