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Young poet pays homage to Ferguson at Hollywood Bowl concert

A young poet's verses on Ferguson, Mo., move crowd during a John Legend performance of 'What's Going On'

A young poet in a black dress named Caitlyn Clark ascended to the stage at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday night during the show featuring the Grammy-winning singer John Legend.

Legend had long been scheduled to perform Marvin Gaye’s album “What’s Going On” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But given the current events in Ferguson, Mo., it seemed an especially apt time to sing Gaye’s songs about a time of war and social strife.

Legend took the stage wearing a black T-shirt that read “Don’t Shoot,” and invited several young poets to respond to the events in Ferguson, Mo., including Clark, who read her verses as Legend prepared to play Gaye’s “Save the Children.”

As Rich Juzwiak wrote for Gawker: “Her brilliant three-and-a-half minute poem touched on racism, the state of Ferguson, Gaye's career, her father's deployment in Afghanistan, mainstream media's apathy, and her own frustration as a young person who feels like ‘the best I can do is tweet about it.’ ”

You can see the performance on Gawker, which posted snippets from Yahoo’s live feed of the show, and read a Los Angeles Times review.

The poet laments living in a time when “Headlines like, ‘Is Michael Brown the next Trayvon Martin?’ remind us that there will always be another black boy to be the new face of your progress, where the Ferguson police department carry more gear than my father did in Afghanistan.”

In another reading, three young women simultaneously read a poem about the state of young people and education that included the line: “Now somewhere in America there’s someone holding a copy of ‘The Catcher in the Rye,' and there’s a child holding a gun. But only one of those things has been banned by their state government, and it’s not the one that can rip your flesh ...."

Hector tweets about topics literary on Twitter as @TobarWriter

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