Local Poetry and the Black X-Men

Meet local poet and academic Michael Ferguson and watch this video of his poem “Have You Noticed? Bishop to Storm.”

In nerd culture, you’ve got your gaming, your theater, movies, cosplay, writing, poetry and, of course, comics. “Nerd stuff is different to everybody,” says Michael Ferguson, a local poet, writer, academic at UCCS and proudly identifying nerd. “My nerd stuff is comic books and comic movies and everything surrounding that.”

Whatever particular vein it takes, nerd culture is fun and entertaining, but it’s also a space for identity and expression. For Ferguson, it’s a natural space to blend his experience as a comic fan, graduate student, academic instructor and Black man compelled to look beyond the surface of pop culture fantasy and real life. “I like to focus everything that I do — all of my poetry, all of my teaching, all of my writing — around social justice issues and nerd stuff,” he says.

Outside the classroom, you’re likely to find Ferguson reading or reciting one of his poems at an event or open mic hosted by Poetry719, the Heller Center at UCCS or another organization. “It’s a really thriving scene in Colorado Springs,” he says “On any given weekend, at least twice a month, there’s going to be an open mic or a workshop that Poet Laureate Ashley Cornelius and Poetry719 are putting on.”

We asked Ferguson to read one of his poems for us, and he chose Have You Noticed? Bishop to Storm.

“It is my envisioning a scene of Bishop the X-Man talking to Storm about how they’re both Black and mutants and how those intersecting identities matter,” he says. “I started thinking about what would Bishop say to Storm? Because there aren’t a lot of Black mutants in the mansion [the X-Men’s base in the Marvel Universe]. So it’s kind of my way of forcing my perspective into everything that I write, read and consume.”

In person, Ferguson comes across as quiet and thoughtful, with a warm laugh and serious mind. He can seriously nerd out on comics, movies and other forms of pop culture, but he also conveys a sense of intentionality about using his passions to lift up others. “My goal is to bring people together from different backgrounds, from different lived experiences — from the LGBTQ+ community, Black students, Indigenous students, Asian students — to make them feel like they have a voice and a place and a presence in my classroom and further in academia,” he says.

Ferguson says he hopes his presence and perspective in the classroom will help open doors for others. “Growing up, I can count on one hand the number of Black instructors and teachers I had,” he says. “Representation matters because when you see someone doing something, you think, Oh, that can be me.

Read more about Michael Ferguson and his guide to Colorado Springs in A Local Poet and Nerd’s Tour of the Springs.

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Jeremy Jones
Jeremy Jones is Springs’ co-founder, editorial director and chief outdoor officer. He loves building community by telling stories about all the people, places and culture that make Colorado Springs an amazing place to live. And he’s especially stoked when exploring new places in the Springs, Colorado and beyond. Watch for him hiking, running or mountain biking the local trails with his wife and kids.

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