Tuesday, October 15, 2013

romancing the (soap)stone... part 4

i havent done much to advance my aesthetic since my last post here 3 years ago. mostly, i've been low-key goofing off playing around on tumblr. initially, my goal was to challenge the perception of 'blackness' by juxtaposing our images against the romanticized imagery important to western culture - to cultivate a romanticized view of Africa and the black diaspora that is most often stereotyped by the world media as 'fetish', 'urban', or 'ghetto'.

it worked initially and i would often receive messages from followers who couldn't understand why i would post African supermodels between romantic Parisian cafe scenes and lush, rural bedroom interiors. or why i would have African mask celebrations between Greek sculptures, southern folk art, and impressionist paintings. few minded a 1960s pin-up model next to an nude painted by Andrew Wyeth, but i'd lose followers whenever i'd insert a breast-heavy selfie of black women in suggestive poses. white folks would ask "are you a 'black blog'? i cant really tell. one moment you're posting doilies and then you're posting Malcolm X!" many black men just assumed i was a white woman. some feminists found me confusing (without knowing my race or gender) for posting bondage images next to women empowerment photos taken from past movements and rallies. i'd post bell hooks next to soft porn.

what i discovered is that whenever people see themselves (or others) in my blog then they most often needed to label my blog in accordance to their own agendas or perceptions. however, im not sure this is still true. currently i have 6700 followers but i only receive one or two messages a month, at most. 2 years ago i had 1500 followers but received one or two messages a week. interaction is down with increased followers. so evidently: 1) people are so familiar my site (or to tumblr) that they no longer place any thought into figuring out why it exists or 2) they simply dont care what other images i post just as long as i still post something that matters to them. and i dont make it easy for folks to ignore me: i think tumblr has 170 per day posting limit for photos, one that i reach at least 3 times a week.

the internet's atmosphere is more polarized than what actually exists, mostly because people feel freer to take extremes when it comes to their beliefs and opinions. i think people used to say extreme-shit just playing devil's advocate, but at some point those comments became entrenched and became an actual part of their personal philosophies. tumblr (like most of the internet) has 4 primary components: art, race, gender, and porn. my ideal photo post would be composed of all 4 elements. 3 would be great. if only 1 or 2, then the surrounding images have to pick up the slack and really have more visual/culture substance overall. but lately it all feels empty.

i dont openly express the reasons why my blog exists, because doing so would most likely play into the expectations of those who follow or might follow. if i say "my blog is a black blog" or "it's a feminist blog" or "a gardening blog" then my blog could become appropriated by those championing blackness/feminism/gardening/etc. i want my blog to be used for introspective growth more than for a culturally divisive tool in open debate.

overall, my abstrack africana tumblr blog champions for the romanticism of black women. it places black women from all eras and walks of life smack-dab next to the positive imagery popularized in western trains of thought. winning the debate doesn't mean you've changed the mindset or gut-instincts of those opposing you... you have to find ways to challenge their idealism, not the language they use in defense of it. i'm not out to eradicate racist thought, i want to make the children of racist people desire to be me when they romanticize their daydreams; for us to be fantasized about without being fetishized. for god's sake, america has found a way to softly romanticize sexual bondage! ...there is more to being black than resisting oppression. "black is beautiful" should be no more offensive to white people than "kiss me i'm irish".

a lasting empowerment is not as much about winning your arguments as it is about effectively disarming your opponents. win the imagination of the children (regardless of race) and the tides against you will lessen and turn. 

but as i was saying, my blog seems to have lost its steam. i'm not as convinced about people's interest in it - maybe that's because i, myself, have lost interest in it. i really need to get back to actually creating art and writing and not just curating the artworks of others. i think that blog has peaked and has said all that it can and i haven't been as satisfied with its 'message' as i initially was. i wont delete it (i dont think), but i think i'll soon stop posting to it; probably by year's end.

we shall see.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

so... we own a bookstore now, hunh?

been a busy last 4 months since my last regular post. found out in mid-april that my part-time gig at local landmark Morgan Adam Books was coming to an end - that the owner was closing up shop to concentrate on her other iconic business venture, Sqecial Media (the local head-shop). i was bummed a bit, because the bookstore was in my neighborhood and only a 15 minute walk away... ...well, damn. now i was probably gonna hafta find transportation not just for any potential new gig but just to be able to get out and SEARCH for a new gig ( "hey Crys, how much is a bus-pass anyway?" ).  but leave it to Yard-Sale-Queen-Crys herself to never pass up an opportunity, so she says to me: "i've always wanted to own a bookstore - what about you?" i think i just kinda shrugged at first, not thinking she was fully serious about it, but then i saw her eyes beginning to light up some and i knew it was more than a hypothesis or passing fancy... ...did i wanna co-own a bookstore? ...did i?!?!?
well... i was finna be unemployed anyway, sooooo... "yeah, baby, sounds great!"

and in that moment, a wild hair gave birth to a wild fig....

...Morgan Adams Books closed its doors for the last time on May 16 and then a little over a month later, June 20, 2011: THE WILD FIG BOOKS is up and running.

 we're hitting our 10th week... i think we'll be able to afford paying me a regular salary, oh say, Christmas... ...2015!

:)

Monday, August 15, 2011

i think i'm back...

...sorry, i shudna left you.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

gone tumblr...

i've pretty much abandoned this blog for the time being, posting to my tumblr account instead. i wouldn't worry about it too much, i've left blogger before and yet we always seem to end up once again in each other's arms...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

'the hero with an african face' by clyde w. ford

the advantage to working in a used-book store is that i get the chance to claim dibs on any interesting books that the community brings in to us. it's rewarding to have materials cross my path, as a writer and visual artist, that i might not otherwise have known about - works that have fueled my poetry, collages and personal philosophy. monday, i had a book enter into my awareness that intellectually validates my diaphanous points of view. that book is Clyde W. Ford's

THE HERO WITH AN AFRICAN FACE

this book is jockeying to become my new personal bible (at least in equal tandem with Brother Ishmael Reed's novel 'Mumbo Jumbo' - or possibly, Reed's book is my old testament and Ford's is my new one).

i've only read a few pages today and it has already become a valuable creative resource. in it, Ford addresses the historical and cultural value of Africa's much-ignored mythological narratives, refusing to lump the entire CONTINENT and its people under one banner, the one modern historians use when reducing hundreds of independent cultures into one manageable stereotype.

this book is a blessing; its inspiring and i am indebted to its author for fueling ghosts that haunt my creativity.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

romancing the (soap)stone)... part 3

okay, down to the bone / what i do best (but not really anuff of!)




the 1980's is often considered "the Golden Age" of black consciousness - meaning so many of our creatives had or were building artistic platforms based on the foundations of the previous generation; there was a burgeoning sense of community and cultural aesthetic. pan-africanism was being extremely promoted through every outlet of black media (print, sound, sight) and was crossing over into mainstream thought and philosophies.  educators were demanding afro-centric programs, rappers were chanting 'back to africa' as a way of improving our then-current social and political standings, african-inspired fashions were beginning to dominate our sense of style (african medallions instead of thick gold chains, kofis and crowns on our heads, abstract / geometrical designs dominated our hair styles, etc) - this "Golden Age" was the mainstreaming of the Black Arts Movement, building on the philosophies of black literature, politics and visual art. it was really a glorious feeling - there were negatives and growing pains, but such is to be expected whenever a counter-cultural phenomenon actively begins becoming more selective in what sustains it. 

the system was beginning to tilt too much to one side for the comfort for all within the collective boundaries, this is how you know there is some sense of empowerment at stake for those within or on the periphery of such an event; so critiques came forth (with good intentions and detrimental ones) and said "we were wrong for romanticizing africa." this wasnt just an over-correction, this was a capsizing.
some of our most cultural creatives were alienated, some simply backed down, others took positions within the mainstream arenas hoping to eat the beast from inside the belly to out. name-calling ensued; cultural momentums fizzled. i distinctly remember the mid-90's feeling as if we were all walking in a haze of morphine - or 'cognac' and 'sticky icky', themes that were heavily featured in our surviving art-forms (mainly rap music), not merely 'urbanized' but now art-forms that glorified the trappings of a stylized ghetto. black folks weren't going back to africa. we were going back to asphalt, back to "the hood".

and now, a decade and a half later, when talking to the youth on the streets all you sense is detachment.
a whole generation was lost to "the white-t-shirt movement" - traditional black media failed staying relevant in a digital era while masters of the digital era heavily regulated cultural stereotypes in order to generate digital income. on television, radio and the internet our aesthetics are more rooted in "gangsta-gangsta" more-so than "i have a dream", "by any means necessary", and "the revolution will not be televised" combined! 

now, the above page is taken from the 1973 edition of kenneth clark's "civilisation" - and i seriously doubt that most historians or art historians would openly agree with such assessments, but i also doubt that many of those same historians would privately feel any different than what was stated. greek and roman cultures are heavily lionized on every level of world education and entertainment, from disney to the louvre. the institutionalizing of the hellenistic aesthetic is what empowers all the branches of western society; there are other aesthetic branches of culture, but none as ideologically entrenched in everyday thought as what the west has enshrined around the globe.

dont get me wrong - this isnt a full-out rejection of all things western, or white... Crystal swears up and down that there is more than one victorian woman in my african ancestry - and i cant deny it, i enjoy a lot of that time frame, artistically / not socially. 

all i'm saying is (insert artist statement here) :

that a people without control of the mythologies (oral or visual) that preceded them is not 
respected as a world people and thus lacks the cultural influences beyond what is allowed them.

we must once again romanticize everything about us / granting new power to our old slogans:
black IS beautiful... and more importantly than that, black is canonical.

Monday, February 07, 2011

romancing the (soap)stone... part 2

i've been waiting for the right moment to finish the (incomplete) thought began in part 1 of this posting; i had danced around what i was wanting to get at and before i knew it i had run out of time... it'll probably happen again and then this once-intended stand-alone blog entry will become a series with a life of its own and me playing dr. frankenstein attempting to keep it from discovering too much about itself.

at my core, i'm a villainous man. we just started watching the tv show 'heroes' (almost good, but mostly so boring) on netflix - i find myself always rooting for Sylar. the last couple of episodes (the middle of season 3) are dealing with the theme of "catalyst"... transformative events that get labeled as having "game-changing" effects. you often hear that word "game-changer" on talk shows featuring one-party-punditry where policies and political candidates are being championed... but just a few days ago i overheard Crystal use that word during a phone conversation she was having. later that day Bill Maher said to someone on his panel "if i hear that word [game-changer] one more time i'm gonna pfnkasdfipaeaefabne...." or something like that, i wasnt fully paying attention.

but "catalyst"... yes.

transformation tends to be at the heart of my creativity, as it is with most creative-types, so i'm particularly drawn to those phrasings when other folks are discussing them, whether political, social, artistic, literary or whatever the subject may be... i'm drawn in.

the catalyst for me to finish this attempted blog-thought came at me, again, by way of conversations Crystal was having with a friend. it concerned the poem "The Change" by Tony Hoagland in which he describes the uneasy demise of (some!) white privilege / perspective / authoritative might. Images of an increasingly empowered Blackness threaten the status quo and his poem reflects the shifting social response of many whites. It's a pretty good poem. it does depict a strong prejudice against Blackness in general and the black female athlete in particular, but its all within context - white fear, angst and ignorance are exposed at the expense of black stereotyping - neither aspect is particularly flattering, to whites or to blacks, but the resulting message is this: white folks had better get used to this assault to their personal mythologies; these black folks aint bullshittin'...

the lead black character in the poem, Vondella Aphrodite, represents exactly what i mean when i talk about my 'abstrack africana' aesthetic - how we must mythologize our own black images, praise them and hold them on high / above all 'normal' things - making our stories of us canonical, something to be romanticized about and shot at by those hating to see us, as a whole, rise up above the limitations society pre-determines us to have.

(will be back shortly with part 3 - fatboy hasta go punch the clock!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

new poem...

Amandla County Folksong
- for Crys.

by a beautiful birthright
i was born the peasant-boy for this pixel era - the 300
pound pauper onscreen at 72 dpi; the daydreamer behind
the Poro mask. i’ve always lean’d into book-learning, 
it reinforces what stargazing has reveal’d: that above all,
to not revel in you should be avoid’d. i watch you as you
wii / my dark eyes peering at you between pages, line
counts, stanza breaks. your black skin pierces the night
like the Eye Of God, his insights ignited and me with
a perspiration of pot-liquor & blues, thick & combustible.
this desire-daub sizzles, drop’d into sly-look’s molten oil.
i see you in all your glory, there is Genesis in your dance
steps. by what Igbo spell does the dry air between us resist
retardants, awaiting the aflamation of kiss / the necessary
ablution of spit against skin / the abscission of tongue
against tongue? in the belly of my head i hunger you. at
your touch a willing skin hisses steam. we two are drench’d
instantaneously; my poems are a song for the Auset in you
with Shango’s palms entangl’d in the thickets at her nape,
plying between shoulder blades, collarbones & thighs. but
i am but a pauper and you are pokeweeds & the perfection
of onyx. Bennu rebuilds his nest within my breath for you.
the synthetic sugar i use in coffee helps me to stir up
the myth, my black poems sandwich’d between the diabetic
breads of my aesthetic: i lay my plates before you / on your
lap, at your feet. i only want to un-famish you and ‘tho i am
half a loaf of a man i am made of no loose chaff, this recipe-me
is sacred & golden & carnal, in this vein i am cosmic. and from
my open paws i give you this crust, the crevices & the crests;
my all & all. i crumble solstice where you are somber, solemn,
in need of solace - by right of a beautiful birth, i beg you,
QueenMother, to eat of me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

my bs bio bo

the tale-end of my pdf chapbook...


shovelin’ dirt, my bullshit autobiographical body odor
(a Q and A session between a fool and his Orishas... or maybe a dream)

...

Elegbara: so... you’re gonna put all this shit off on us, hunh? the delusions,
        the hallucinations, your penchant for bourbon poured over ice cream,
        your OCD, the    typos... you’re saying all of that is our fault?

brothadirt: (undecipherable mumbling)

Jesus: excuse me, but could you please lean into the microphone when answering.
        thank you.

brothadirt: (over feedback from fumbling, making adjustments to the mic)
        -ammit, i SAID yes! you hear me now? whuuh... whuuh...

brothadirt's son Jordan, who lived 4 hours in 1988: daddy, please... dont blow into the mic.
        i swair you have no home-training sometimes. embarrassin’.

Elegbara: brothadirt, elaborate.

brothadirt: “elaborate.”     “elaborate.”     “e... l... a... b...”

Yemoja: sir, this is not a spelling bee. Elegba was asking you to explain yourself.

brothadirt: oh. okay. gotcha. you know, i’ve been up all night making last minute edits
        anshit. working on art. its kinda hard to concentrate at times. plus,
        i see that Coyolxauhqui is watching one life to live and i’m trying not to
        hear what’s happenin’ between Sammy and EJ... i have tivo and i’m wantin’ to
        watch this later on when i get home.

Sun Ra: i pegged you as a young and the restless type of guy...

brothadirt: yes, i was raised young and restless. but after i met Crystal i converted.

(Sun Ra nods and Coyolxauhqui cuts the sound down)

(brothadirt continues)

brothadirt: “elaborate” - well, you all know what haunts me, but for the purposes of
        establishing this on record, i’ll recant my testimony...

Yemoja: you mean “reiterate”... surely you’re not wanting to ‘disavow’ yourself.
        and sir, could you please refrain from rolling your eyes. please.

brothadirt: sista, you KNOW i would never be that disrespectful to you; if it comes
        across that way then please forgive me. i’ve got these moles around my
        eyes and sometimes they itch. i was merely stretching my brow-muscles
        trying to scratch my lids without touching my face. that make sense?
        but you’re right... i didnt mean ‘recant’.
        (googles for the correct definition of ‘reiterate’ on his blackberry)
        okay...
        well. i was born in louisville. kentucky.

Sun Ra: I OBJECT! you only think you were born in louisville, kentucky. but you,
        my child, are a son of saturn. continue.

brothadirt: never been to saturn. but i’ve heard nice things. we always talkabout
        retiring there someday. but i’ve been working part-time in a used-book
        store since i moved to lexington, so, i think ‘retirement’ and ‘quitting’
        will be one-and-the-same. i do think my moon was in saturn when i was
        born, if that’s any consolation. but i’m jus’ guessing at that right now.

        uh, i ramble. you all know that.
        i have no problem with yall prodding me to get the answers you want.
        i have a movie-date with Crystal when she gets home and i sorely need
        to shower and put some smellgood on.

Fela Kuti: rambling is beautiful. it’s okay for your stage presence to carry on and on
        for days at a time.

Elegbara: (shakes head... sighs... drops head into palms, turns to some of the blues
        men on the panel for support)

(Junior Kimbrough just shrugs. Muddy Waters is smoking reefer and drinking
        champaign and defers to John Lee Hooker, himself drinking a beer;
        John Lee looks up, taps cigarette ashes into a tray, then waves his the
        back of his hand in brothadirt’s general direction.)

John Lee: uh... boogie on, children.

brothadirt: yes... yes. i will. thank you sir for your eloquence. let me just say how         much
        i deeply admire tonight’s entire panel.
        (nods to Romare, Ahmose of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, Lucille Clifton,
        and the other honored Egungun held in high esteem)
       
        let me start at the beginning:
        my government name is ronald davis.
        in keeping to the time honored tradition of my african, native american
        and hip-hop-emcee ancestors, i changed my name to ‘upfromsumdirt’
        taking from an old poem i wrote in which i figuratively said
        “i’m up from some dirt, like a pyramid.”
        back when i was starting to truly come into my own natural voice
        as a descendent-looking-in of the black arts movement.
       
        (grabs mic, stands up, motions to the background singers to cue up)

dirt continues:
as you all know and i’m REITERATING (thumbs up sign to sistaYemoja) i’m haunted by africa-america’s lack in mythological narrative. i cant imagine sitting down to tuck my grandchildren into bed telling them origin-stories that begin with
“and the heaven’s opened up, a gang-plank descended, and out stepped america’s black-assed-children-of-God in chains and shackles.” (shudders)
every child needs to know they come from somewhere magical. mythological. my own motto has been for years “a people without the science to turn their folktales into tradition are not respected by the world at large as an empowered people or a culture to be recognized, worthy of romanticism.” i mean, sometimes i dont say it like that... the words change at times, but that’s the gist of it. i just added ‘romanticism’, but yeah. that.

so as an artist, i’m always attempting to fill in the void - not the definitive historical stuff, because others are already doing so. my job as a black creative (and i have to be “a black creative” because there is still a need for us to champion an honorable black aesthetic. the art and sciences we create are still lumped under the label of second-hand-citizenry, we still tend to draw from the european classics while ignoring the vast volumes of africa’s and africa-america’s largely ignored narratives. black bookstores are gone. black newspapers have bitten the dust. our black magazines are owned by non-black foreigners and this is truly acceptable under america’s assimilated lifestyle.
a lifestyle that is based on universal-liberalism (in vision, not in practice) that is still based on the traditions of those who only know ‘black art’ by way of the media, grade school, and/or stereotype-as-the-easy-answer.

Granmama Lizzie: all this talkn is makin’ my stomach hurt. yall niggas are gonna mess         around and make me late for bingo, shit.

still dirt: i mean, even black folks hold these common beliefs about their own culture, because it is something that is fed to us from our t.v. sets and internet connections, not something that is raised organically within our own homes... so we shrug and say, “well, if they say this is how black people™ are on t.v., then who am i to say otherwise. and where are those visibly acknowledging an alternative or counter- position?” the internet is cool, but the information existing on it is transient and always in flux as information is transferred from one-cool-website-to-the-next-one.
then it all fizzles, begins again. momentums are lost. the calvary only comes for ‘the assimilated us’ and never for those of us attempting to master the serious-concept.
and when it does swing low to carry us, it is never to the homes we recognize or hope for. in this extra-digital era, the most lasting truth is the one you can touch and hold.
america holds onto its cellphones more than anything else. you can maintain an informed culture this way, but its difficult, in my opinion, to achieve an academic culture using digital technology as our reference guides.

Jam Master Jay: so what is your position on the state of hiphop these days? can you
        elaborate about the disappearance of the urban dj in rap culture?

brothadirt: man, now you’re askin me to say sumshit. i aint got that kinda time. this is
        a chapbook, afterall. i’m already nearing 30 pages and my internet
        provider says i’m dangerously close to going over the bandwidth levels
        previously authorized.     but yeah, hiphop sucks, fareal.

Elegbara: you tip the scales at 270 pounds with your fat ass... you still claiming to be a
        vegetarian? my concerns are incredulous.

brothadirt: i’ll have words with you later out back.

Elegbara: dont bring a knife, you know how i roll. so if your ‘words’ for me dont
        begin with “you know, i was way out of line” then we might be talkn’
        ‘final words’ here. you hear me?

brothadirt: yes, suh. i hear you.

Elegbara: it wasnt even a question.

Zora: gentlemen, mind the testosterone levels, please. the warning signal is flashing.

(both parties suck their teeth)

Father Ptah: i think this is a good time to end this meeting. let’s adjourn until
        tomorrow and then resume the interro, the interview, tomorrow between
        9 and 10. (slams gavel)

(Elegbara pulls upfromsumdirt aside, his rough hand clasping harshly the nape of brothadirt’s neck)

Elegbara: i got my eye on you fatboy.

brothadirt: i wouldnt have it any other way...

Elegbara: as it should be.

• by law, they exchange dap. cellphones begin whirling; laptops are booted up;
everyone retreats to their own respective shadows...

Elegbara stops in his tracks, turns and hollers back in dirt’s direction... wants to know
if Granmama Lizzie is seein’ anybody. thinks twice about it/waves dirt off...
        Penumbra-Prime decides to handle his interests hisself.

Elegbara: hey, sistaLizzie... you need a ride to bingo? i got camels... or a cadillac,
        if that’s what you’d prefer. i can take you where you want, i got keys.
        i know a good place for catfish. i know a place where the coffee is good.
        everywhere i go i get a real good reception.... join me sista,
            jus’ join me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

romancing the (soap)stone... part 1

(i'm a hermit by nature, so thank Olodumare this 'internet' thingie is good at
hiding wizards behind curtains! and now, once again, i throw the switch...)

adolescence was burdensome to me, the whole 'coming of age' thing while having both feet planted in culturally parallel worlds. the one, the so-called 'mainstream america' - you already know it, the one where (hold on, let me read it straight from the sociologist's textbook) "chirrens of all races and ethnic backgrounds mix, mingle and melt into an amalgam of theoretically patriotic pastes while maintaining the universally exploitative standards that help categorize this great american nation!"

high school epitomized that exact ideal: let's segregate the "top" scholastic talent (i.e, "non-threatening-looking") of black children in our school system from the core group of black students we cant identify with and place them for the duration of their high school experience within the classroom of "top" white students (i.e, also "non-threatening-looking", but smattered with the "popular-pretty" and the "popular-dumb jock" - those best suited to take full scholastic advantage of the "studious uncool")... this meant that i was the only black guy, along with 4 black girls, in my classroom for the entire four years (the "excel program" was an experimental program - no need in placing more than one 'gifted' black male into a study group, not until we know exactly what they are capable of!)...

and you would THINK that having access to 4 intelligent sistas would be the ideal situation for a young man growing into his own, but you'd be dead wrong! blame the dumb jocks allowed to infiltrate our pavlovian setting. popular dumb white jocks have popular dumb black jock friends... if there is a dumb jock in your current professional group he exists only as a conduit for the dumb jocks on the outside to come raid the cookie jar as they "convince" you its for the common good (meaning, none of your stupid geek business!). a single black nerd cant compete against jock-osmosis... it's a brutal system based on wins-and-losses, not a grading curve... meanwhile, its me hanging out with the 'big-bang-theory-prototypes' - we speak D&D quite fluently, draw our own comic books and write poems about killing our chem teacher. outside of my white male excel-program constituents, i am not considered "a catch", on any level... and then, after 4 years of high school camaraderie, your closest white friends think you're all cool enough with each other that one of them can start telling 'nigga jokes' - to be fair, george carlin and richard pryor were the comedic icons at that time. that doesnt excuse them and it effectively ended any sense of friendship i thought was built up, but we had all grew up watching george jefferson shout 'honkie' into the faces of his 'friends' over a laugh track. plus eddie murphy had emerged onto the scene, becoming the most famous by exploiting the 'nigga stereotypes' - buckwheat, the ghetto mr. rogers, black panther parodies, etc... the pendulum got stuck in its swing between 'angry black men' and 'shuckin and jivin black men'... the early 1980's was all about the angry-shuckin-and-jivin black man. supposedly far enough removed from the civil rights era to as not be offended by the social equivalent of racism's second-hand smoke.

but i wasnt that cool and i knew there was still a need for politics; that 'empowerment' offered other options. the power to let you laugh wholehearted at the stereotype of me is important, but its not the first one a person dreams about, wakes up wanting and jots down at the top of his notepad.

in the meantime, Jes Grew (google it!) was changing the attire of the Black Arts Movement - hip hop channeled the spirit of the creative-oppressed and i found a new focus for my energies. if 'mainstream america' was the stepping stone for my left foot, then this unappreciated new black artform was the groundswell for my right. Africa Bambaataa held equal stage with Kraftwerk and Art of Noise... Basquiat exemplified what most alienated black creatives was going through, this simultaneous struggle for identity and non-identity. we were the Pfunk mantra played out, of freedom being free of the need for being free...

we didnt muse about freedom, about sharing the front seats of public transportation trying to prove the point of how non-threatening we could be... our dream wasnt for freedom. it was for an identity free of the identity america had planned for us. our parents were the ones who had dreamed of working at ford and general electric, of providing greater opportunities than they had... but it was our generation that had sat back to ask: but what was so wrong with the laundry mat you owned all to your self? only in america, because of the need for black people to escape from deep-rooted segregation, was the need to work for one's self considered a social sin... this is the point in american history where the prospects of "freedom" actually became a set-back.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

lit-crush (menage-a-trois) of the month

"Assimilate; don't be assimilated." - Léopold Sédar Senghor

 Senghor (1906-2001), a Senegalese poet, the country's first president, and an absolute Francophile, maintained early on that the best way to support and protect one's indigenous origins, especially for Africans, was by using contemporary (European) methods, or 'the master's tools' as referred to by James Baldwin, to canonize the legacy of your people and NOT by using those methods to dismantle one's culture, rebuilding some Euro-nized facsimile in its place. i've been in serious 'black empowerment' discussions where this point is missed or mistakenly appropriated as an act of oppression... i've had to 'dumb-down' the talking points to this: "if you stole the colt-45 of your oppressor to gain your freedom you wouldnt doubt your own motives by suggesting that an american made gun invalidates that freedom - it's how you use it, what you do with it that matters the most."
- that same theory holds true if your weapon of choice is the inkpen or the paintbrush. the world is moving forward, making advances - with or without us - and our narratives ARE going to be told and preserved, the only question is who will be the curator of such narratives: those who are native to those narratives or those who are only out to catalog stories and art, interpreting the meanings however they see fit? we, as black creatives, must curate our own work; validate what has the most 'authenticity' so that outsiders will fully understand what our value systems are.

love who you are. understand where you come from. let these understandings be the cornerstone of the art, philosophies and sciences that you create, just as other cultures (European, Asian, Carib, etc) have done; just as Africa had always done prior to colonization - tell your tales without flinching, let your own tongue be triumphant in the way it organizes your stories. use what embodies the contemporary in your own times, this is the only way for you to achieve relevance beyond your own era.

Senghor did this successfully, utilizing the written word to canonize his African-ness in France, in Senegal, and on the world stage. such work leaves a lasting impression on me... and as poetry editor for Mythium, it's one of the main things i look for in submissions: finely crafted nuanced work with distinguishable, cultural undertones.

nuanced, not annoying or the nuisance of self-indulgent hubris.

i often credit Haki Madhubuti's book earthquakes and sunrise missions as being "my literary bible". my sister Karen gave me a copy for my 21st birthday and his work inspired my creativity and the new way in which i approached writing. before then i was Chuck D Lite, writing angry, black-conscious poetry rants. Haki's book gave me focus and a better understanding of what it means to craft your work. although i was familiar with Gwen Brooks, Gil Scott-Heron, Sonia Sanchez, the Last Poets and tons of other Black Arts Movement writers, it was the tone of Haki's work that influenced me the most and made me want to be a writer instead of merely being a black poetry fan. he was writing black poems FOR black people to heal to, not black poems to strictly poke in the eyes of our oppressors...

from him i fell into the works of Lucille Clifton; her poem "if i stand in my window" is my all time favorite above every other poem ever written on the face of the earth! it's such a short piece and yet it has metaphor, self-love, AND oppressor eye-poke ability all in one... embodies craft and depth and is the epitome of Senghor's philosophy of "assimilate; don't be assimilated."

but Senghor, Madhubuti, and Clifton are not the subject for this 'lit-crush menage-a-trois entry... no.
it's Senghor, Ishmael Reed and Nikky Finney... 

i'm late coming to fully appreciate the works of Senghor, having only become familiar with his work in the past couple of years - but his sincerity to his craft and subject matter mirror what i would gratefully love to emulate in my own writing.

i first read Ishmael Reed's poetry back when i was too young to appreciate it and he didnt re-enter my consciousness until after i had read his novel, Mumbo Jumbo, about 15 years ago... that book is now my second bible! in my most creative moments i am channeling the spirits of Papa LaBas, Jes Grew and the Mumbo Jumbo Kathedral... it grounds my space-age sensibilities in the root-works of African culture as seen through the eyes of a black man raised on speed racer, sanford and son, mantronix, and saturday morning cartoons, pre-cable tv era. not just Black America, Ishmael Reed steered me toward the importance of romanticizing one's own heritage in order to canonize your own art. "I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra" is a poetry classic... his work should be taught everywhere!
but only by educators who 'get it', but sadly - it seems - our teachers leap from Langston Hughes to Maya Angelou to fill-in well-advertised contemporary-black poet-of-the-moment here. maybe Audre Lorde. Gwen Brooks. Rita Dove... ...the on-the-surface classics, but seldom those below the radar who had or have been writing exceptional work for a mighty long time. their names might be mentioned, but is their work being thoroughly discussed in a classroom setting? i dont know... i'd be happy to hear about such literary programs.

my first encounter with Nikky Finney's work happened in 2001, when i stumbled across her poem, "Assam", in the Step Into A World anthology - in that piece, she writes about a maternal figure "steeping" in the ocean as if a teabag. i'm HORRIBLE with names, so me being a very visual person that single bit of imagery has haunted me since i first read it! i remember everything by way of imagery... and emotion. (and since my copy of the anthology, misappropriated from a library ((a complete accident i swear!)) is missing, i'm not even sure that the title 'assam' is even correct and its one of my top five poems ever; thank you google, for what sounds like the correct title!)

((to be 100% transparent, i still have to refer to Lucille Clifton's work to correctly remember the title for "if i stand in my window" where she is actually standing in her window in the poem! - memory, BAD!))

(((i've had people quote my own work to me while i waited for them to tell me who the author was!)))

back to the point: A BLACK WOMAN WADES INTO THE SEA, FLAVORS THE ENTIRE OCEAN!

- that's dope.

Finney's poetry has taught me the importance of physically honoring our people, not abstractly or in attempts to recreate the personal mythologies that haunt me, but of immediate flesh and blood bonds - something i have never mastered and more than likely never will. i've had a son die, a nephew survive being in the second world trade tower when the plane hit, the passing of my father who i still have unresolved issues... and nothing i have ever attempted poetically has done justice (to me) in those events. i'm incapable of writing personal narratives that involve my loved ones, with the exception of 'being in love' poems - i can wax poetic about Crystal's effects on me all day! but to write about Crystal as a whole person outside of my affection for her would be a task, because i remain unable to fully encapsulate her womanhood, her country background, her afrocentric tendencies, or her feminist nature adequately. as a writer i know its not a necessity, that its even an impossibility to fully portray someone accurately in all dimensions of their being in a single poem (or even in a group of poems)...

i might incorporate icons famous to me in my work, but for the above reason, i could never be "a persona poet" - not that i lack the skill. i lack the nerve. i can write about me, Sun Ra, and Olodumare in a stolen Jeep driving drunk to a knife fight at the Source Awards, but to take a page from Sonny Blount's actual life to place solely into verse? i could never do it.  not without space aliens and a craps game entering the picture...

but when i do attempt to write about something personal, it's Nikky Finney's work that first comes to mind... she has a very humanistic approach in her writing - her characters are tangible, not because they put on shoes and walk - but because her writing makes me feel its subject's toes protruding from their socks within those shoes... her poetry reflects Senghor's approach: not only do i feel her South Carolinian heritage, it also feels authentically 'black' - a rarity in an age where the current philosophy of black writers suggests we aggrandize the dysfunctional in order to be seen as "progressive"...

i'm not opposed to the exaggerated or the cinematic in our poetry, but there's this 'twitter-effect' going on in literature where common, everyday happenings are placed into verse with little poetic device, and yet we are expected to assume that something poetic is riding underneath - the cinematic assumed.

but that's another issue...

Léopold Sédar Senghor
Ishmael Reed
Nikky Finney

"assimilate... don't be assimilated!"

Thursday, December 30, 2010

the death of olympia (work in progress)

- after edouard manet's olympia, oil on canvas. (image below)

you have slaved, my sweet queen, toiling
at the feet of empire, your heels to the fire
but "negress", you are my nation. you, my
love, are my 'lady of the room', my odalisque
in apron and sack-cloth / more flora than
the emperors will ever secure for themselves...

soul by soul, scar removes scar / touch us,
tar-like; in embrace black is ablute / we are
soot and silk in joyful longing.

olympia? she can only lay there, wanting figs
and breeding bedbugs / she cries in her sleep
and mourns like vesuvius, her smothered
lamentations flowing into pillow / poor her.
you rub her down, my dark sage, in rosemary
and thyme but she is thistle in our eyes.

you tend to the care of her abject porcelain,
basting breasts and ass in the plumes of
privilege, this pot roast of a woman marinated
by your hands, awaits rotisserie. change her
bedpans then turn her on the spit... line
her torso and thighs with russets and celery...
do not bruise the flower in her hair
or the apple in her mouth!

braise her skin in sandalwood and rose
petals staring at her blemishes until she
blushes, mistaking evil-eye for infatuation...

"mistress, your nightgown." bow, your
brow low hiding the contempt for having
to wait hand and foot on this frail pitiful
thing, but hope for solidarity. maybe
she'll understand, acknowledging
the sisterhood-of-servitude binding
you both. hope for smiles but if
she snarls, well, well then...

remember, queen, the cure for rabies / you've
been bitten by much better breeds and she too
will soon recede, as all do, into the compost of
concubines. and to that end, hemlock is kept in
secret cupboards in the kitchen; signal the cook
by singing "the king and rook have  castled, so
pawn takes queen." then return to your mistress,
the heirloom wasting away in the room-for-whores,
with plums piled high and pillowed about goblets
of wine / just smile and nod... bow, brow low.
purge her clean with midnight paregorics.
whisper spells to the fair maiden

"forgive me, O, Olympia, but 
i have no more life to lien you."

soften the blow, her sheets a shroud. then
clean the cottons; smooth the linens. you've
always allowed her kindness. she is figurehead,
but you rule the roost and very few will think
you, darkie, to be so devious... dismiss her with
care then come quickly home / embrace me,
i will halo you because - scar removes scar.

behind our walls of thatch and tin, we two
usurp the throne; courtesans of the dust...
mouth-to-mouth we are magna carta
- magenta / black magic.

jesters always bray in awe at finely dyed
plumage, but every peacock has a claw
to cleave and to cut, to have and to hold...
that is why i adulate you. head bowed, eyes
closed, lips to palm: i worship you; all
of these poems are your pedestal;
not just adore...

...idolatry.






Saturday, December 11, 2010

"amphoric merit badge" - a rough, but not as rough draft...

"Bum stiggedy bum stiggedy bum, hon, I got the old pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
But I can fe-fi-fo-fum, diddly-bum, here I come"
- das efx, they want efx

"....in spite all of the bullshit we on our back starin at the stars above
Talkin bout what we gonna be when we grow up
I said what you wanna be, she said, Alive
It made me think for a minute, then looked in her eyes"
- outkast, da art of story telling pt. 1

 1.
imacs are buried in the backyard
covered in the composts of childhood:
evel knievel action figures, 4 x-men
comic books (issues 135 - 138), one
of daddy's rusty ass pocketknives, a torn
tape of brother malcolm's "i was in
the house last night when the bomb
went off" speech stored in P.E.'s
"it takes a nation of millions to hold
us back"  clear cassette case - ancient
analogs, all catalogued during my mid-
to late-teens; each one an heirloom for
ascension. an atari joystick broken
after joining the boy scouts; a red, black,
and green african medallion purchased
from alphonso's head shop at 15th and
broadway; my entire elementary school
hot wheels collection re-coated in mama's
maybelline fingernail polish / plum red.
i am primed for power; 100% anabiotical.

2.
exegeses marks the spot: the knick-knacks
of an ex-colored/negro/black/afro'd african
boy born and raised on the soils of america;
these spoils of war. the homes of my great-
great-(great?)-grandfather were looted; legacies,
languages, and the learning of familial
trades - all lost. i've lived my whole life as
the industrial pollution of hate, a hard history
to cope with. "shit, nigga, get over it." was
stamped on birth certificate. but if jack kevorkian
was black they would have sat back in stereotypical
understanding, the way he "devalues life" chalked
up to the flowcharts of his nature; blame it on
phrenology, not as the after effects of racism.
patty hearst would have never made it to folklore
as an african. too bad 'symbiosis' wasnt invented
until 1974.

3.
i packed all the compost down, $3000 imac
included; disgusted drawing circles around
myself picking a peck of pixels out of concentric
philosophies. a pack of cmyk-colored hellhounds
nipping at my heels; candy-colored crayons
in my cigarette box as a self-appointed samo©
substitute anointing african spirits at 72dpi. my
desktop apple a bag of beans growing totems
instead of beanstalks. this is how a 21st century
houngan connects to the ethernet. we transmogrify
technology or we die. but pass or fail, we still
come out the 'other side' in much better shape
than how we arrived.

4.
examinations in the spiritual side
has always been our science;
"thank god i was born a smart-ass."
is an african-american slogan.

5.
my poems hide behind Poro masks, "africadabra"
written in reams on lumumba carson's mythical
shroud hidden beneath the tongue, an ndebele temple.
words have a torso of driftwood, orbital bones cast
in cowries, words with afros carved from soapstone
standing tall like an afrocentric skyscraper in shell-toes,
no shoestrings (all poem lacks is 8 square feet of
linoleum and a jvc boombox strapped to its shoulder).
i am a god of life; a walking / talking ossuary. not
"hidden" as in you're not allowed to see but "hidden"
as in get up off your ass / come and find me.

6.
i'm johnnie conqueroo growing guedes from
an apple seed. i pray at the knee of forgotten
equations, but i'm not  an atheist... ...this is
amethysticism - a purple reign empowered
from a borrowed bandwidth. "rich?" no.
i am witch, bitch. damballah wedo hazed me
as a rookie; baron saturday sat and watched
over me as goddess asase spun gospel on
the ones and twos...

7.
my merit badge is earned. i've join'd the club.
i'm in the guild. the written word pays my dues;
my voice drifts up from the vévés drawn in cornstarch
on the kitchen floor. there is hip hop and polynomials
in my poetry. i'm a psychopomp with kentucky
tendencies... lean unto my shoulder, my collarbone
is keystone for a bucolic cosmology, my portmanteau
is neon, Chukwu is common denominator for nommo
and numen and there is rainbow to my gravitational
collapse. Petey Wheatstraw breaks bread with Unoka
in prose... Achebe and Octavia hold congress to my
confessions / in poems i am Roy G. Biv in dreadlocks;
i'm polychromatic with my caul and response. in black
words i am supernal, a supernumerarian and there is
nympholepsy in my black-on-black praise-songs.

8.
relax, child.

pawpaw has you now. allow me to
induce nutation; it wont hurt you.
i am paregoric - i taste bad; but you'll
learn to like it. my vespers rubbed
into your chest and my hooks in your
nose, your eyes open / your eyes close.
a camphoric ghost-story my words.
it's all about the blowing of smoke;
the way a writer purses his lips and
makes a bottle bellow, his breath
breaking wind in passing, releasing
the djinn from the jug, birthing
laureates from mush-fakers and
dervish-fakirs, every word an ovary,
every thought an opening.

i stumbled into black lit / fell into
insemination; this composite poem
a pimp and a parable - this is the part
you pay the fee and enter / enter;
pretentious or extra-celestial, there
is no winter here. here be dragons -
i'm houngan from a black cocoon.

8.
the babalawo in a b-boy stance.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

"woman with small ankles" (poem)

"woman with small ankles 
kneading wheat-gluten" 
- 18x11
historical fiction & mythology on poster board
2010 - sold!
(for crystal)
...

ah, if only i knew with highest surety
that a son of osiris had created jazz, then
i could claim your stance the world's most
elegant musical composition. or if sun ra
had turned ascension into t-shirts
i would silkscreen you across the bluegrass.
i'd be an advocate. your acolyte seeing
your dark face in the bark of white poplars,
be the first man in a line a block long / a throng
of worshipers and well-wishers come to lay
offerings at your roots, sing songs of your grace.
if you are ceo of unseen beauty then consider me
an intern. your initiate. initialize the program of me.
i'm already chief-squatter in charge of
your crawlspaces. i am damp. covered in dew
and your mosses. i draw the celestial heavens
in your soot and seitan droppings...
i paint you in coal and cornbread on canvas,
draw you in coal and water colors on the sidewalk
for the daughters-of-zora to hopscotch on.
you are my creator and i collage you, your distracting
visage hangs in my hallowed halls, your facebook
avatar is framed in glass on my temple walls;
this aesthetic of you lining the shadows of my life
like pedro bell's signature art style on a pfunk
album cover; your country smile my hardcore jolly.

and i love you.
i love you more.

you are my ideal for an abstract africana;
my prototype for an african space program
in payless heels / a sande priestess storing
the nile delta in a goodwill purse - i orbit all of you.
you give good gravity (and your meatless gravies
are also good!) my language crawls into your lap;
you are not my mama. you are my motherboard.
i offer you cupboards, this canvas-me the pantry
for your absolute womanhood.

Friday, December 03, 2010

the "black artist vs. artist who happens to be black" argument...

there's a(nother) "being a black artist vs. being an artist who happens to be black" discussion going
on at black art in america. i think we spend too much time discussing this issue, only because it
never seems to lead to a fulfilling conclusion one way or the other... people, for their own various
reasons, are often entrenched in their beliefs (and even their lack-of-beliefs) concerning the matter.
BAIA is good because it brings many artists together who otherwise would not or may not have been
aware of one another. every generation seems to have this discussion. at some point i'd like to see us
focus more on our collectively individualistic destinations as opposed to our walking in circles
while debating which of us has the most recent cultural thesaurus.

click the link above to view the discussion in its entirety; the following is my latest response:

the ideologies of 'blackness' are always shifting/changing - colored, negro, black, afro, african, universal, etc - and in the wake of us traveling toward a more complete self-definition or running away from full-time labels with part-time social impact, how does an artist make his/her craft remain 'relevant' to transient, cultural philosophies? to be relevant means we have to direct our work towards a fixed ideal. a focal point. and in this 21st century focal points seem to be the last of our concerns.

i fully admit to being jaded. i firmly consider myself a black artist. i seriously attempt to make work that expands the definition of pan-africanism more than it attempts to redefine it. being 'black' is a tribal belief for me, the art and literature i create are my rites of passage into that tradition. i'm 'a race man'. for me, discussing 'blackness' equates to comparing the differences between 2 floods 50 years apart: "yeah, the water was really deep last year, but you shoulda seen the flood in 1962! that was a flood!" a flood is a natural action. the only thing that changes during floods is a person's proximity to them - the closer you are at that moment the more detailed your views about it. "blackness" is the same way. either we choose to be right up on it / in the middle of it or we paddle away, trusting that the natural calamities of higher ground will be more kind to us. i've used that analogy before and someone suggested that maybe a flood is akin to a baptism... it can be, but that's a romanticism of the problem. reality sometimes hurts too much to view it with kindness. this is a reason why many of us are so divided about what it means and doesnt mean to carry the label of being a black artist.

when we romanticize being black then a certain portion of our people, still bearing scars and in search of healing, will flinch, still stuck on the very real things that has happened to them as a result of racism, histories of being disenfranchised, and the ugliness that other black people have inflicted upon them. too often, those of us who are very positive in labeling ourselves as 'black artists' bash that concept over the heads of those who are still working toward labels that work for them. during a flood, you can't make me get into your raft if i've chosen to swim. i may drown; you may not want me to; but that is for me to discover. those in the raft travel in one direction, those in the water get swept away elsewhere.

what needs to happen is this: the people in the boat follow the people who are swimming - that, for me, is the only working definition of what it means to be 'black'. anything else is a person grinding an ax.

so... "relevant"?

swimming or rowing, both are relevant actions to the people involved in those circumstances.

soapboxin'...

at some point maturity itself must become your priority.

you must be able to recognize when lifestyles and philosophies aren't working for you.

that if some of the ideals that you hold dear aren't fulfilling you spiritually, psychologically, or
philosophically, then you need to surrender those concepts to a higher or alternate authority
and develop new ones that become beneficial to you as a growing entity.

wrapping your identity in concepts you developed for yourself in your youth, before your
acquisition of wisdom (or what passes as 'wisdom') or concepts that are counterproductive
to how you must carry yourself as an adult on a daily basis, harms not only you as an
individual, but also harms the collection of individuals surrounding you who care about
your well-being. at some point the weight of what is "real, loving, and lasting" in your life
must take precedence over the illusions we tend to carry with us, masking who we truly are
with the dream-of-who-we-see-ourselves-being. here's a newsflash: no one loves that dream-you
but you, unless you surround yourself with the delusional. in which case,
all of yall are shit outta luck.

i'm not saying you should abandon your dreams. but if the end result of you pursuing those
dreams, whether you succeed or not, does not leave you a better person / does not add to your
personal definitions and your worldview, then holding onto such dreams is a childish endeavor.

and not that you can't be "a child at heart" - being child-like in some aspects can actually add
to and fill out your natural tendencies as an adult. but there is a difference in being child-like
and being childish. its not a good look for a grown person. grown people will talk behind your back
and the real-serious-grown-folks will talk about you directly to your face. THOSE are the ones
you should spend the greatest effort listening to. they may or may not like you, they may or may not
love you, but unless they operate from a childish position themselves then chances are their criticism
of you and their advice to you will be deadly accurate.

swallow yourself.
shit out habits that hinder you.
lean into the wind; pull up your collar; walk anew.

Olive Senior - literary crush of the week

it takes diggin' in the crates, late nights and early mornings
spending the set-aside, essential creative time for precious projects
on web-surfing, google, bing, etc... but when you come across
that previous nugget-of-the-dark-unknown™ then it all seems worth it.

(at least until the people you're beholden to wanna know what's up with your deadlines!)

Olive Senior... why do we not know who she is on the education circuit?

check her out... her work is canonical.

tongues of the ocean is another good site to check out... this link takes you to Olive's poem there.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

protoplasmic phrenology (the video!)

about as close to doing a literary reading as i get.

and listening to the robot-voice read my work i think it's a favor
to the audience that i refrain from ever doing so... ever.

dont worry, it's only the first 2 stanzas. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

protoplasmic phrenology

this pathos-by-proxy still twitches at the mere mention
of paterollers storming the gate / neanderthals with knuckles dragging
swarming the stanza; dupes in white robes, haute-couture dunces capped
in trivial pursuits; they’ve come for the gardenias, the organza. and
the penumbra spills over every edge, haunted / daunted by a post-slavery
stress disorder that’s anything but paint-by-the-numbers.

voices told me to buckle up; that work was to be done.

but who knew i’d be the one to grow up mapping the spinal cortex
of yoruba-oblongata / talking the dead down from the ledges of ivory towers,
stalking spirit-guides on chalkboards, in chatrooms and in chapbooks always
in a state of rough-draft outlining and underlaying the pedagogy of a sun-people
told for years that melanin undermines accomplishment, merit, our seats
at the table. money changed hands, the bets placed on the crowd pleasers and
social favorites. who thought it would come down to this: me taking the witness
stand as public defender for stolen property.

the story goes i was born the son of an egun-runner and fell shadow-first
from several wombs all at once; assembled on a single line / stitched
into sorcery by the gnarled hands of an unseen seamstress, but i digress.

this poem is my mess-of-pieces and in haste i assumed you already knew
the elemental weight of sankofa. the dna of most nursery rhymes are made
of angst and atoms, but mine are composed of poro masks, the wail of tears,
robert johnson’s cigarette ash, etc. and the banana in the pocket of this poem
is a poltergeist. but i’m not a ghostbuster whispering the echos of the dead...
i’m the doorman for the dearly dormant.

it’s a tough trade. not as in demand as you would think...

i was born to translate tarbaby’s morse code into a canonical course (jes grew 101),
my dissertation was on head-lump reading. baron saturday was my first instructor,
paid me to re-edit the wiki-entry for the pot-liquor sciences. he taught me to be
everywhere you want to be. that's why i’m known as prometheus backwash on
facebook and, by luck of the drawl, i’m jujuchagalia on twitter... i’ve been told
that “upfromsumdirt” is kiswahili for “renaissance” and my signature looks like
basquiat’s long lost rorschach, my john-hancock the sonogram for a lost culture
- you should just see my cat-scan!         no shit, my medulla is a fun-house mirror.

i see saint octavia’s image on toast and tree-bark or when connecting the moles
on the back of my lover’s knee. i was hit by a marching band as a baby and that’s
why i see everything so clearly.     just didnt know i’d be the one to grow up
re-inventing a wonderland, replacing rwanda for kentucky as uncle tom’s
backdrop where cabins are shingled in soapstone and cowries.

does anyone know the trajectory for a black poet profiling himself? then again,
it’s not like i was born for recognition, my mug adorning the t-shirts on liberal
college campuses... in me is not the tradition for upholding a metered dialog;
i was born an act of reclamation... what need i for progress if the thought-process
is afraid of flames?

you:

continue taming your lions, chasing gazelles;
i was fed the breastmilk of hyenas.

it’s my nature to alert you to aneurysm; when
i curl up at your feet, a conniption is coming.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"change the style" - wordemup!

and now, for your listening and viewing pleasure,
i present to you... ...son of bazerk; vintage 1991. enjoy.

Monday, November 08, 2010

"my students are full of shit"

branford marsalis speaks the truth...

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