Thursday, December 24, 2009

my new blues name...

i envision myself 30 years from now as an old ass man
walking the streets with a near-busted guitar strapped
across my shoulders/beard nappy, grizzled and gray...
dreadlocks dragging the ground behind me as i walk,
sweeping up behind me... yeah... hell, yeah...

think ima change my name to sumphn like
little-tourettes "plantain" nkrumah... or blind-sugarcane lumumba...
(its tradition that a good blues name have an infliction, the name of a fruit and the name of a president
in order to be considered 'the real thing'  - and yes, nkrumah is a president, obama might be america's
'first black president' but africa been having 'em ever since the end (supposedly) of colonialism...

really, i'm wantin to write a poem from this perspective... talkabout how a juke burnt down around him
while he still played/came up out the flames smokin'/harmonica at his lips...

might even write his 'ending' - have all'a his wimmins show up at his eulogy...

always wanted a woman in black to fall on my casket with bright red panties showing as my wife and kids
looked on wonderin' just who the fuck this woman was to me... maybe have 2 or 3 of 'em do this.

- crystal says this fantasy is OUT and can give up the ghost on that bullshit nonsense.
if i hafta... i mean, i hear you baby!



so, anyway... who would you be if you could be a b.b.? what is your blues identity?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

bloggers from another mother...

(edit - 12/19/09 - i fckd up this whole article, referencing Poets and Writers instead of Publishers Weekly...
i'm such a sloppy journalist... i'll never work in this town. anyway, if you decide to get kneedeep into my 2 cents, then i just want'd you to know what you were gettn yourself into... plus, i think i credit Deborah Willis as the photographer when that credit actually belongs to Lauren Kelley! - i'm such a hack, i should work for Fox! ...now, onto the article...)

my its weird, this blog-on-blog crime... how easy it is to take personal soundbites (in this case, the 140 character limitations of an individual's twitter page) and embed them into contextual dissertations for or against any one particular position. we all do it... or will do it, the more we live our lives thru the world of virtual communication devices. as a semi-reformed conspiracy theorist, i've done it... will probably do it again real soon.
shit, might even be doing it right now!

folks (and good folks, i might add) have been tweeting about the latest cover of Poets and Writers Publishers Weekly magazine where a woman is crowned with an afro of afro-picks - an image im personally deeply in love with as a love-child wannabe of the black arts movement. africa and african american imagery permeates every focal point of my conscious life... i am not 'me' without it. the photography of Deborah Willis could grace the walls of my home or office anytime, even if i can see how it might elicit critical glances from those driven to uphold and protect black images; every creative output deserves to have those in favor of AND critical of it as "art".
so depending on one's personal philosophy, one person's 'black pride' might be another's 'black cliche'.
neither perspective is wrong; in fact, in the right context, both can be 100% correct.

the challenge for us is knowing when to differentiate subjective arguments from objective ones.
many of us lack this ability - or if not 'lack' then at least arent fully aware of recognizing those differences when they occur. i think the internet has made us all rude(r) by nature. cultures raised on text and instant messaging have deferred their logistical abilities for egotistical ones: our surface glances of a subject matter are all that we require to fully understand the depths of that particular topic; we rush to infer and to judge the responses of our internet colleagues without fully engaging in a thorough debate on the topic at hand.
it's just the nature of the virtual beast... until it is no longer as 'virtual'... twitter commentary often winds up being outsourced to actual news agencies! often taking casual commentary completely out of context,
confusing 'social media' as 'professional (or confessional) press conferences'.

case in point, see neptuniansoul where a debate is forming concerning the Ms. Willis's artwork and those critical of the contextual integrity of it as it is currently displayed on the cover of Poets and Writers magazine.
(the above is link is just a sample; no grudges for or against those operating that site or posting their replies to it... i'll probably be adding it to my blogroll before the night is done)

i understand this debate... it is sorely needed. its just sad that it takes slight critiquing of a subject to engage us deeply within it because we too often jump into 'left vs. right' positions when 'middle-ground' is needed the most. but what fun is finding the middle-ground on the internet? no one does it...

if i say "right" no one will ask me "why right?" - the most common, most immediate response is "no, left!"

and if my tiny quip makes it to the right rss feed, then good night! - ten words online already distort my full position on a subject by default and when simplified contortions are further distorted as they are digitally repeated, then compatriots and strangers alike will jump up to label me to the confinements of those distortions, "ron didnt like that one pic with black woman with the afro picks in her hair - therefore, ron dont like black women! that fucking sell-out... who the fuck is he and wtf does he know about being black anyway?"

folks will approach me with their asses already up on their shoulders expecting my behind to be up on mine...
its "first impressions by way of the rumor-mill"... its just the way society has devalued personal experiences when applied to the generalizations of the internet. by the end of the day, someone will have said i called someone 'a nappyheaded ho' because they went through 6-links-of-separation before finally getting to my actual responses.
such is life in this day and age; i dont like it, but i accept it... plus, counting pidjin, i can say 'yo mama' in 4 different languages.

anyway, what im tryinta say is this: everything seen, heard or felt is subjective to one's own personal experiences... my public philosophies might openly defy my personal opinions; if/when it happens, dont adhere so much to the discrepancy itself as you should the context under which such discrepancies might occur.

lets not poke each other in the eye before deciding to read our fine prints.
some of the women at the center of this debate are natural dreds and/or serious black feminists and yet others outside of the debate are weighing in and calling them straight-haired, blue-eyed wannabes. the more any issue spirals out into the virtual domains its larger waves soften into smaller ripples, but its those lesser ripples that are often commented on because its easier to focus on those ripples than the object that caused the splash to begin with.

a whole lot can be said in 140 characters or less... unfortunately, what is often left out is usually the position that defines us the most.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

a poem that rambled around in my head this morning as i lay dreaming...

it's here somewhair... it's been a long day and i simply caint recall it at the moment... dammit.

on a sidenote, a haiku for you:

i crashed the car. golf
clubs or infidelity
were neither involved.

a brief guide to the black arts movement (from poets.org)

A Brief Guide to the Black Arts Movement  


"Sometimes referred to as 'the artistic sister of the Black Power Movement,' the Black Arts Movement stands as the single most controversial moment in the history of African-American literature--possibly in American literature as a whole. Although it fundamentally changed American attitudes both toward the function and meaning of literature as well as the place of ethnic literature in English departments, African-American scholars as prominent as Henry Louis Gates, Jr., have deemed it the 'shortest and least successful' movement in African American cultural history." --"Black Creativity: On the Cutting Edge," Time (Oct. 10, 1994)
With roots in the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, and the Black Power Movement, Black Arts is usually dated from approximately 1960 to 1970. African American artists within the movement sought to create politically engaged work that explored the African American cultural and historical experience.
One of the most important figures in the Black Arts Movement is Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones). Following the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) made a symbolic move from Manhattan's Lower East Side to Harlem, where he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School. According to the Norton Anthology of African American Literature, "No one was more competent in [the] combination of the experimental and the vernacular than Amiri Baraka, whose volume Black Magic Poetry 1961-1967 (1969) is one of the finest products of the African American creative energies of the 1960s."
Sometimes criticized as misogynist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and racially exclusive, the Black Arts movement is also credited with motivating a new generation of poets, writers and artists. In recent years, however, many other writers--Native Americans, Latinos/as, gays and lesbians, and younger generations of African Americans, for instance--have acknowledged their debt to the Black Arts movement.
Related works include "On Black Art" by Maulana Ron Karenga and "The Revolutionary Theatre" by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones). For more information, consult The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996), Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present (University of Virginia Press, 2004) and Modern American Poetry's Black Arts resources.

Poets in the Black Arts Movement inlude: Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ed Bullins, Eldridge Ceaver, Jayne Cortez, Harold Cruse, Mari Evans, Hoyt Fuller, Nikki Giovanni, Lorraine Hansberry, Gil-Scott Heron, Maulana Ron Karenga, Etheridge Knight, Adrienne Kennedy, Haki R. Madhubuti, Larry Neal, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Quincy Troupe, and John Alfred Williams.

afaa weaver on 'black male poetics'

This essay was originally delivered during the AWP Conference in Vancouver, B.C., March 30 to April 3. 2005.  

• this following sample is taken here from poets.org

...

Langston Hughes was not pretentious about the tenor of his work. In choosing to be an architect, he had to imagine his role. That imagining is never accurate. All too often any poet will simply not know who cares whether he lifts pen to another page ever again in life. How else was Hughes to be famous given the exigencies of the blatant racial hatred during his lifetime? What are the requirements for fame today?
If American society has progressed, it should have done so such that fame has other requirements and, concurrently, poets such as Hayden who are more interested in simply being poets have more space to be, although there is no such thing as "simply" being a poet. Critical specificity requires more. Hayden and Wright are poets who write with less concern to the complexities of race and racism, and some consideration of this choice of theirs might illumine this idea of black male poetics.
Conversely, there is the black constituency that believes the urge to use one’s gifts with a focus on craft is whiteness and cultural betrayal to an ideal of blackness.This notion of betrayal is nonsensical and steeped in a lingering anxiety born in the space between black and white as evidence shows that the desire to have fame and greatness extend over the globe, even as they manifest differently according to cultural difference. The urge does live. The more sensible line of questioning out of all of this, I maintain, is whether we as citizens in an increasingly smaller and complex world need poets to continue with phallic notions of conquest inherent in greatness or aspire to newer notions of community, notions made possible by concentrating on one’s own development first, that kind of selflessness. The desire to fame and greatness is exploration of the opportunities to extend one’s self, which is not ascension to the sublime. If we look at the movement from Hughes to Hayden to Wright in this way we might see a journey toward selflessness in this thing we call black male poetics, selflessness as opposed to the quest for greatness that is more an earmark of patriarchy than anything.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

radio interviews

AS REAL AS IT GETS

elijah saint interviewed me via skype last winter (december 08 i believe)... i remember it
being as cold as owlshit that day... it primarily discusses my art, but i think i ramble other issues
into it as well.

and here is crystal wilkinson's interview on accents on wrfl radio, lexington
- hosted by katerina stoykova-klemer
(i play the sidekick)

ACCENTS

Monday, November 16, 2009

amira baraka turns 75; the radio chronicles

takes 2 and a half minutes to get into baraka's comments...


Radio Chronicles - November 15, 2009 at 6:30pm

Click to listen (or download)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

yes, i believe in magic...

or 'miracles' if your religiousness forbids you from uttering such phrases outloud; if your inner-child was abducted and made to act grown by screw-faced parental administrators (god bless you and them, i'm sure they meant well!)

but i believe in all of it: miracles, mojo, magic, all of it - i'm an artist - it's in my dna.

my fiancé and i were in louisville for 8 days beginning this past friday while she teaches creative writing at spalding's fall mfa session. i'm from louisville, so i always go with her - allowing me to be her soundboard while also allowing me to visit family.

i had no reason to want to come back home to lexington, an hour's drive away, but today i was feeling 'confined' and felt compelled to make the drive instead of going to the bookstore or music store or any of the usual things i might do to shake any doldrums. so i did make the drive, promising my fiancé and my daughter (who was taking advantage of the warm day to grill out) that i would be back in the afternoon.

i got home at 9:30am.

ate cereal. made coffee. watched sportscenter. checked email and was preparing to take a nap before making the return drive. it was 11:30 and i was planning on leaving around 2.

then i thought i smelled gas.
no... i was definitely smelling gas... the house was leaking gas! ... ...profusely!
so 9-1-1 is called. 6 fire trucks arrive on the scene. they do their thing/the gas company is called in, she does her thing. crisis neutralized.
- but i had no business even being here today!

the plan was to return next sunday, lounge for a little bit, work on our office space, have a date night.

had i spent the entire week away, chances are something entirely dire would have awaited us on our return... at least five hours have gone by and i'm still a bit shaken by it.

so what's a neo-spiritual, completely superstitious and abstractly religious creative type person supposed to do?

make art, what else.

so i did. it speaks to me. i hope it honors shango, the orishas and all the ancestors who've looked over us today...



it's an age-old story:

the hebrew interpretation of cain and abel suggests that cain was actually the son of the serpent that seduced eve in the garden, explaining his 'evil' nature...

thats the nature of almost all sibling rivalries. in my case, my sister karen is the bad-seed and im the good one (however, in my own mind, i dont die - i just beat the shit outta her - its payback... or karma... but belee me, she has it coming/she's earned it.)

its actually a beautiful feud; i think we both enjoy 'cant standing' each other sometimes. where we grew up, thats how we showed familial affection - a scratch, a bruise, a scar, etc (except mama - there was none of that shit going on between her and daddy - they battled, but it was more like tupac vs. biggie/west coast vs. east coast; all stage/no street)

karen whines that i had a small milkcrate sized tv in my room and she didnt, tho she's 5 years older and was old anuff to work and buy her own damn tv... crybaby.

i whined that she's the reason i dont like poets and have refused to call myself one, even tho i've been writing poetry for 20 years - karen was a poet, but because i couldnt stand her those emotions bled over blanketing all poets everywhere... plus, the poets she hung out with were fullashit (except mary, mary was cool/she still cool!)

i dont know why but karen gave up trynta kill me in my bassinet as well as consistently writing poetry some years ago... incompetence, maybe?
but she started channeling her inner Malissia Pettway and has been making art-quilts professionally for several years.

but i love my sista. and from this day forward i promise to stop referring to her as "that ol' stankhead heffa" behind her back... i mean, we're 'grown' now right?
bygones anshit.

anyway, i pulled a book off the shelf yesterday to take to louisville while crys teaches at spalding university for the week, 'halala madiba: nelson mandela in poetry'. as poetry editor for mythium i'm always looking out for black and other ethnic writers, researching the genre, what's out there and in what form... halala madiba is pretty thick volume of work full of many familiar favorites: Keorapetse Kgositsile, Kamau Braithwaite, Ntozake Shange, Wole Soyinka, Kalamu ya Salaam, Karen Davis, Haki Madhu- -wait!- KAREN DAVIS?
WHAT'S THAT STANKHEAD HEFFA DOIN' UPPINNAIR?!?!?

"caint i have a day of peace without having that ol' albatross show up and ruin my day?

damn...

well... let me see what she done did... maybe its a whole 'nother different karen davis..."

karen davis, FOR MANDELA (1988©)
(printed without permission and with complete and utter disregard for what might be said and/or done should i see karen sunday at mama's house)

The chokers of "The Resistance" foolishly
watch their hands bleed and swell against the edge
of the struggle, your life, the people
entwined like a three strand rope
tying into a hangman's noose
for the death of apartheid


_____


a real short joint, but a completely effective use of the public outrage our activists used to wear badge-like on their shoulders when condemning those who utilized oppression as a major weapon in controlling a people.

strong, eloquent and to the point... entirely reflective of karen's personality.
as a fan of poetry, i hate that there's little else publicly available for me to read of her. and as a sibling-critic, i publicly blame her absence helping to create the chasm that became 'conscientious black poetry' during the 1990's (inspired by rap-attitudes and black propaganda more than the black literary canon that dominated in the 1970's and early '80s).

in fact, there are tons of black poetry (including my own!) that have mimicked what karen had written, only we did so without simile or craft, only with poetic attitude, making us what i hated about poetry to begin with - politically superfluous and poetically empty.
(for my own endeavors, my intentions were good/i swairfogawd! and i think the maturity in my work has developed the more humility i devoted in regards to understanding the craft)
((and yes, my punctuation sucks - but to hell with all yall that might criticize, i was an art major, not an english one! plus, i take the license to call bad punctuation "my personal aesthetic" - non-grammar majors are allowed to that, right?))

strong, steady voices are few and far between in the black poetry field (at least, in what passes as 'popular' black poetry) - there are tons of talented writers out there, but we put too much of our egos and our own personae into our work... so instead, we wouldnt have this type of genuine mandela poem, we'd have (insert poet's name here) doing his/her mandela poem, playing to the crowd and not the cause.

karen's poem reminds me of the secret reasons i wanted to write to begin with; works that read well as well as attempted to make or reinforce a political/social change in society; to have work that stood on its own two (or more) feet without always having it reference back to "that poet who wrote it" for it to be accepted.
karen wrote because it mattered to her and it shows in her work.

or maybe she just got lucky, but what she coulda ever done to have earned such good karma is besides my knowing...

Friday, November 13, 2009

poetry's worst nightmare presents:

the flesh of my forearm is a dead myth
a cold rhyme/an old rune/a new ruin;
its opened pores is poetry's worst nightmare...

quick

run tell
olodumare to assemble his finest forensics
team/scrubbed into my every gray follicle:
a puss of jet blackedness, fairy tales
for a stolen people segregated from the sun.

...

on forearm's skin - sweat has a soapbox;
this recombinant phantasmagoria/a disassembled
midnight in miscegenation with the tongue

concerning these stories of skin,
what 'should' was
is.

and my sweating tongue speaks volumes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ShareThis