Mark Anthony Thomas is a poet who hasn’t had a public performance in over fifteen years. Well, Thomas returns to the stage at Pittsburgh’s historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater. He comes with 17 new, original poems to a packed house of friends and admirers. Capturing it all in their documentary short, Folded Whispers, are co-directors Jordon Rooney and Shane MacFarland.
Thomas opens with “Late Night Stroll” as a welcome to his guests. He then speaks from the heart about finding his love for writing as a teen living in Atlanta and how that drive and passion helped define who he is today. Thomas’ poems speak on various subjects, from identity, love and loss, race, the pandemic, and finally, living in the urban cities of Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. As a queer, black artist, his poetry speaks to the broad human experience as well as his personal life.
“…speaks from the heart about finding his love for writing as a teen living in Atlanta and how that drive and passion helped define who he is today.”
Folded Whispers features moments from this special evening at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. My favorite of the set was “My Favorite Ex-Moment.” It speaks to that moment when Thomas realizes that he and his lover are living in two separate worlds. That moment when he pulled out a box of empty poems with “blank pages of empty images.” For all this time, he had been trying to make a loveless relationship work to no avail.
As a documentary, Folded Whispers is pretty straightforward. It features beautifully shot moments of Thomas reciting his poetry with casual pans of an engaged audience. The performance is briefly broken up by Mark Anthony Thomas reflecting on his art. If you’re even a casual fan of poetry, you’ll find this documentary a heartfelt evening with an insightful artist.
For more information about Folded Whispers, visit Mark Anthony Thomas’ official website.
"…a heartfelt evening with an insightful artist."