Glenn Ligon (b. 1960, Bronx, NY)
Give us a Poem (Palindrome #2), 2007
Gift of the Artist
After a speech by Muhammad Ali at Harvard University in 1975, a student asked Ali to give the audience a poem, Ali replied, “me, we.” As a star athlete and celebrated spokesman for political awareness in the black community and beyond, Ali imbued those two words with poetic and political meaning that resonated long after the crowd dissipated. Arguably one of the shortest poems ever recited, “me, we” highlighted the intimate relationship between the individual and the community. Here, Ali’s poignant verse is commemorated in a neon installation by Glenn, Ligon, Give us a Poem introduces us to Ligon’s characteristic appropriation of provocative texts and visuals that engage the viewer or spectator in both historical and current discourses on identity and contemporary art.