Poet, Dessie Bey, has gained the attention of not only the artistic community but also the political arena in Pittsburgh. Whether her poetic form of expressions take on the nature of love, politics, spiritual or urban reflections, the listener is bound to allow imaginative metaphors the privilege of dancing in their mind. Her first book, “Snappin’ Out! in more ways than one” was published in 2006 and is a testimony of survival for women in America, in particular Black women.
Dessie is a current member of the Board of Directors of UMOJA African Arts Company, founding member and Assistant Director of the Langston Hughes Poetry Society of Pittsburgh. As a social activist, she is a former Board Member of the Thomas Merton Center and also the founder of MAAMS (Mothers of African American Males) and has organized and participated in several activities for truth, freedom, peace and justice. However, her statements of humanity are heard loudest through her poetry.
Dessie has been writing poetry, as she says, “since Mother Goose and before Dr. Seuss, before I could control a pen, the poetry was always there”. As a member of Kuntu Writer’s Workshop and under the tutelage of the late “Oba”, Rob Penny, she began writing for her life. As a member of the spoken word team “innertainment LIVE”, she gained enough confidence to stretch out and bring her vision to fruition through poetry. In 2004 Dessie hooked up with saxaphonist, Doc Wilson at an open mic session in Steubenville, Ohio and in 2009 the duo became a trio when bassist George Gist lent his talent to the team... then it was on! Dessie Bey and The Truth was born! They put their talents together to create one of the best poetic/jazz collaborations since the 1960-70’s Black Arts Movement... "uhm, with the exception of her inspirationess, Jayne Cortez and the Firespitters and of course the poetic governess, Sonia Sanchez", Dessie says. And it doesn’t stop there; Dessie teams up with poet and literary artist Lewis Colyar for a literary masterpiece entitled “Conversations with Langston” in which you feel their love for his work, while the spirit of Langston Hughes is resurrected.
The late “Oba”, Rob Penny describes Dessie’s poetry as thus: “To read Dessie Bey’s poetry is a journey into eloquence of her images and words. Similar to the music of Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington: to hear Dessie read her poetry is to hear the wonderful voice of a Phyllis Hyman and a Marvin Gaye. To read and to hear Dessie Bey – I have experienced poetry that has the substance of greatness and the poetics of Great Black Music. The human heart pumps more fully and happier with Dessie Bey in our world of art.”
For Black 365 Dessie and Doc Wilson have put together a poetic / jazz timeline entitled “The African’s Experience in America, with poems spanning from 1854 to 2006 and jazz renditions of John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus, T. Monk and more.