Poetry

A Movie for a Poet

Posted on Updated on

Let’s start with some of my favorite quotes:

“Truly, smoke is like imagination.”

“Sometimes it’s all about risk.”

“The psychic distance between love and hate is the same as the physical distance between a smile and a snare.”

“This is the song for the genius child. Sing it softly, for the song is wild. Sing it softly as you ever can – Lest the song get out of hand.”

“I believe what I feel moves unsaid in the air between us – satellite blackouts. It is true, some of the people we love are terrorists.”

There’s something beautiful about his movie. Perhaps I’m biased because this is a movie for a poet. Or maybe it’s because it’s set in my good old home town of New York City.  The movie highlights important, taboo and volatile aspects of Black culture – the Harlem Renaissance and homosexuality. My reactions during the movie were a whole lotta “holy shits!” Partially because I was so proud to see a young black actor like Anthony Mackie play the role of an openly gay, homosexual, Black artist and student in the 21st century. I learned more about black history in relations to homosexuality from this movie than I’ve ever learned in the years I’ve spent sitting in a classroom. What does that tell you about the history of American education?

A particularly intense scene occurs when a discussion about black men having interracial sex with other black men back during the civil rights movement was addressed in an interview. “You let the white man F*@k you in the ass. Now what does that make you? That makes you the lowest scum on the Earth.” This brings up a major conflict of dual identities of oppressed groups of people – between being a Black man and being a homosexual man. In the clip shown, James Baldwin was criticized by Elderidge Cleaver  and his own people during a time when Blacks were fighting for equality but was also othered because he identified as homosexual. Cleaver was more concerned with the symbolic nature of the action than acknowledging his oppression of his own brother.

Another scene that provoked some thought was when Wallace Thurman and Zora Neale Hurston and is changing the language of the publication to sell to a broader audience.

“A good writer has to make concessions to what the public wants.” Zora’s response it’s admirable, “But the language of the novel preserves the folklore roots.” “You’re not writing in easy to read English that people can understand then how do you expect people to get it.” “It is English the Negro’s English.” “How hard can it be to translate that into something that everyone can understand?” It is the oral Negro tradition. The people that are a part of it recognize it. I’m not speaking for these people, I am these people.”

What I loved about Zora and Wallace’s response was that they wanted to stay true to the culture they were trying to represent. This addresses the idea that urban vernacular isn’t frequently recognized as a respected form of language. Zora and Wallace made sure that they were not going to represent their culture in a way that genuinely represent themselves. How do you continue to oppress group of people? You silence them and strip them of their culture.  Unfortunately, silence was perpetuated by black organizations like NAACP. Because there were a lot complaints about their magazine, Fire!!,  from the public, newsstands were told not to display them. I’m not ready to discuss that in too much detail, but I would say that it’s quite disappointing that a center and institution of Black culture would squash the creativity of their own people.

Cinematically, I enjoyed how Rodney Evans incorporated historical instances of some of the most recognized artists of the Harlem Renaissance into a modern day portrayal of a young student’s discovery of self.

Much props to Anthony Mackie for a stellar, mature, and committed performance. Watch the movie to reach into a rare world of black culture.

Check out the history of some of the black artist highlighted in the movie:

Bruce Nugent

James Baldwin

Eldridge Cleaver

Wallace Thurman

Zora Neale Hurston

Literally sources:

Smoke, Lilies, and Jade

Fire!!

Brother to Brother screenplay

Advertisements

Plight of Young, Black, and Educated Waxed Poetic

Posted on Updated on

Major snaps to this poem. Kia does a great job at articulating an experience that many young educated black youth experience throughout their academic career. Her experience is pretty similar to what I experienced as a young black female  growing up in inner city Queens, NY. I can’t tell you how many times I was called an Oreo or being told that I was trying to be White. I guess if trying to be anything other than ignorant is White, I’m rich vanilla. When did it be come a fad to be sound uneducated? Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that there is a certain dialect that excludes certain audiences because not everyone has exposure to such language, but that doesn’t mean that one should take pride in decreasing your ability to communicate? My ancestors risked too much to give me the opportunity to sit in a classroom and learn, I dare not disrespect what they gave me by engaging back to uneducated dialogue.

Have a similar experience? Please share below!

“The Superbowl of Poetry” is Coming to Boston!

Posted on Updated on

NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH!

NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH!

NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH!

NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH!

If haven’t you heard already you either don’t enjoy poetry enough or you’ve been living under a rock. It’s been all over the local papers and on the radio. I’ve been awaiting this moment since I saw the banner flying on JFK Street in Cambridge near Harvard Square – The National Poetry Slam is coming to Boston! As a poetry fiend I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be present for a mass ideas and voices of the people from all over the country. From 10:30am on Tuesday, August 9th through Saturday you can enjoy 75 poetry teams from across the country perform to win the title of National Poetry Slam winners. Since there are over 100 events will be running throughout the week, you can probably find some time to get to at least one of them.

While this isn’t one of those free opportunities I usually post about but I can’t pass up convincing you to check out at least one of the many opportunity to listen to modern poetry. Even though it isn’t cheap, it’s also relatively inexpensive – see event pricing here. The teams of people who helped put this event together worked very hard to make the experience extremely accessible to anyone who wished to attend. Whether you’re brand new Beantown or  you’ve been around for a while there’s a comprehensive festival guide. The great thing is that the poets will be performing at stages in local Boston and Cambridge centers for culture. Each setting will have a unique ambiance and energy. Even if you’re not a lover of poetry I recommend you check these events out. They’re founding goal is to “bring poetry to people that wouldn’t engage with it otherwise. So they’re bringing it here just for you!

What’s my motive in encouraging you to check out the NPS even though it’s not free? Well it’s incredibly simple, poetry is near and dear to my heart. I began writing poetry when I was in JHS. By the time I entered my senior year of HS I’d collected a lot of various pieces that I was rather proud of. Unfortunately those poems were deemed ‘lost’ at the end of a stressful chapter of my life. While I wanted to give up on writing because I thought I’d lost a significant piece of my identify I chose to start fresh. One of the first poems I tried to rebuild from memory was “College in the Boondocks” which was a celebration of the new chapter in life I was about to embark on, College. I participated in my first poetry slams at college and place in all but 1 of the 3 contest I performed in. I’ve haven’t been on the stage in a while so I’m hoping the poets performing during the competition will not only engage my mind, but also stimulate my creative energies.

So, I give myself a 5 day challenge. Write everyday. I constantly find myself talking about how much I should write rather than actually putting ink to paper. And of course, I’ll share what I come up with along the way.

Check out the official National Poetry Slam blog here.

Enjoy Peeps!

Tribute to HipHop

Posted on Updated on

As a little compliment to the last post I wanted to share these videos.

 

“Hip-Hop does not wear diamond earrings. Diamond earrings that were mined by African children of war.”

 

“How I miss the days when hip-hop was fun, how I miss the days when hip-hop was fun, how I miss the days when hip-hop was one.”

“Mystery of Iniquity,” Lauryn Hill. Just Listen.

Posted on Updated on

“The truth is obsolete. Only two positions:Victimizer or Victim. Both end up in destruction trusting this crooked system. “

Listen to the words of this wise woman.

Jessica Care Moore, ‘Warriors Walk Alone’ on Def Poetry Jam

Posted on Updated on

“CREATE A REAL REVOLUTION WHEN NO ONE’S LOOKING SO THEY WILL NEVER SEE US COMING!”

Spoken Word by Black Ice

Posted on Updated on

“We live in a beautiful world but ugly souls push the buttons.”