The 51st (dream) State by Sekou Sundiata

"To answer the question of what it means to be an American citizen in these turbulent times, the poet Sekou Sundiata traveled the country for two years, conducting classroom discussions and attending potluck dinners to forage for people’s personal experiences to add to his own insights. The result is “The 51st (dream) State,” a hyperactive mosaic of poetry, music, dance and videotaped interviews that had it's premier at Brooklyn Academy of Music-read more of this article at Questioning U.S. Identity in the Aftermath of 9/11 By FELICIA R. LEE

What does it mean to you to be a citizen of American culture?

  • Do you feel Sekou's estrangement between American civic ideals and practice?

“Living in the aftermath of 9/11, I feel an urgent and renewed engagement with what it means to be an American. But that engagement is a troubling one because of a longstanding estrangement between American civic ideals and American civic practice. This project is my response to this reality. I take it as a civic responsibility to think about these things out loud, in the ritualized forum of theater and public dialogue.” 

- Sekou Sundiata

The America Project & the  51st (dream) State 

Experience this poetic mosaic of renewed engagement with the American experience through this Oct, 10th 2013 performance of 'State': 

On Sekou's "'Non-rhetorical' political confrontation" -

"Sekou Sundiata was a master of “non-rhetorical” political confrontation, letting the situation, the facts, the true stories of regular people, speak for themselves. Sekou was also poet, performer, scholar and visionary who survived heroin, a kidney transplant and more."

 - More from Solidarity: http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/1328

Sundiata on the creation of dream language to talk about the 51st State  -

“I went on tour in 2001, right before 9/11, and I was looking at an itinerary,” Mr. Sundiata said during an interview in his tiny, spare New School office. “We were going to South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah. I took out a road atlas and I saw Nazareth and Bethlehem, Pa.; Trinidad, Ariz.; Warsaw, Fla. — all these places named after places in the world. World history is being dreamed despite the fact that America is conceptualized in a monochromatic way sometimes."

“I thought maybe the 51st state is a dream state,” he said. “I discovered an active discourse in academic circles about the 51st state. Maybe the 51st state is a state of war. Rumsfeld has said the 21st century will be a time of constant war. You need dream language to get at it.” 

-read more of this article at Questioning U.S. Identity in the Aftermath of 9/11 By FELICIA R. LEE