i wish this were just a lecture…
i’m always questioning my place in the world as a writer. i remain inspired by the canonical poets from the days of the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Era, the Black Arts Movement Era, and the Conscious Rap Movement during hip-hop’s Golden Era. these are the ghosts living rent-free within my head. they have all (or nearly all) earned the right to put their feets up on my couch. anytime. i write for the approval of these apparitions, these shadows, these beacons. i once described myself on my old myspace page as the love-child of Pedro Bell and Eunice Waymon and that still holds true for me. and since then i now claim Sun Ra, Black Herman, and Lucille Clifton as the God-Parents i’ve chosen to adopt – in African culture / at least in African American culture / the spirits of the unborn pick their people. pretty sure i read that somewhere. fact check it if you like but it’s not gwan change anything…. who are you to tell me what my traditions are? (fortunately for me my birth mama don’t internet!)
mostly, i just lecture myself. with 600 facebook friends, 1100 twitter followers, 500 followers on my upfromsumdirt tumblr page, 15,000 followers on my abstrack africana lifestyle tumblr page – i’m lucky if a dozen folks total actually “follow” (or hover around) any of the things i say on any given day.
but i’ve always been an outsider. that one guy firmly inserted between the popular and the unpopular folks. the black, militant nerd who always saw INVISIBILITY as the greatest tool of black liberation in America. “Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?”* …maybe not “invisibility”, but camouflage, perhaps? i came of age during a time when spooks sitting by the door seemed a romanticized necessity. whether i write about love, politics, or nature my poems testify to that strategizing narrative.
we obviously still retain a need for freedom… every day bombards us with physical, mental, and cultural assaults in the media from elected officials, from institutes of learning, and from enforcers of a one-sided legal system. i don’t know how to NOT speak about such subjects in my work. every poem, in some way, calls for an uprising. an uprising submerged in the language of flowers / a faux naiveté / songs of a flora that remains a non-native species / beautiful and invasive.
simultaneously seen & unseen.
our experiences here are not diasporic, they are dystopic. aliens conquered our world 400 years ago and we’ve been in survival mode ever since. so for me, poetry is not just the confessing of my various moods for the sake of publications required for tenure where my creative colleagues guard the gates… i’m trying to create prophecies; proverbs that enhance the societal advancements of equality for black babies.
and where’s the fan base for that?
* from the closing dialogue of the unnamed narrator in Invisible Man.