Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Twin Poets' Powerful Premiere of "Why I Write"

The Twin Poets. Photo: Teleduction
 A full-length movie featuring nothing but the spoken word art of Al Mills and Nnamdi Chukwuocha, also known as the Twin Poets, would be compelling, entertaining and moving. "Why I Write," the Hearts and Minds Films documentary about the duo takes it further and offers so much more. Directed by Sharon Baker, the film intersperses the twins'  amazing art with their amazing social work, showing how interconnected all of it is.

Identical twins Al and Nnamdi -- social workers, activists, military veterans and poets -- grew up in the harsh Riverside neighborhood of Wilmington they serve. Unlike so many kids growing up in Riverside, they had a strong parental base, and were especially influenced by their late father, activist William "Hicks" Anderson. Al and Nnamdi are walking examples of the power of involved fatherhood in the inner city community, and, no surprise, are involved fathers themselves, not only to their biological children, but to all of the children in Riverside. They are tireless in their devotion -- they spend their days working with kids at Kingswood Community Center, public and inner-city charter schools, afterschool programs, and in the homes of high-risk kids. They comfort fearful youngsters, counsel young boys treading perilously close to being lost and encourage young girls to respect themselves and reach their goals. They shed tears with children who have lost parents to violence. It's a difficult calling, but, somehow, they keep their senses of humor.

If Al and Nnamdi wanted it, they could be millionaires, living in California mansions, instead of being social workers in lil' old Wilmington. Their spoken word poems, delivered in a distinct way that I'm not sure would be possible for non-twins, are that good. They've had their own HBO special, and they've had offers from rappers who wanted to use their words. The Twin Poets, while they work in words, are not rappers, and have no interest in being connected to to the often thuggish genre, even for big money. Their integrity is almost overwhelming. Honestly, judging by the reaction to their work, they might land that success anyway.

Teleduction has plans to show "Why I Write" around Wilmington and in film festivals around the country. Connect with the "Why I Write" Facebook page for information about the upcoming DVD.

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