April 10, 2009

Black Arts Movement poetry

So, this April has been especially educational for me, in more than a few ways that I'll get to before the month is up, even if it's on the 29th. On the poetic branch, which is always the easiest to talk about, I've learned about the Black Arts Movement, described by Wiki as an artistic branch of the black power movement.

I discovered this while I was looking up Sonia Sanchez, whose work I was introduced to via our lovely Heath Anthology some time ago. That shit is my bible. But I don't think the biography blurb mentions the black arts movement...or maybe it does.

Well, through that I learned of another familiar poet I was introduced to by my Librarian Bosslady a year or two ago now, Amiri Baraka. So let's be a good class and look at any similarities in their poetry. I wanted to show you Sanchez's more famous poem, or at least well known, "to blk/record/buyers" but for the life of me I can't find an online version, which makes me think I will be beaten up if I typed it up myself plus the format is difficult so I'm going to risk an ass beating to type up "Masks" (1984) instead.

Sonia Sanchez, "Masks"

(blacks don't have the intellectual capacity to succeed.) -WILLIAM COORS

the river runs toward the day
and never stops.
so life receives the lakes
patrolled by one-eyed pimps
who wash their feet in our blue whoredom

the river floods
the days grow short
we wait to change our masks
we wait for warmer days and
fountains without force
we wait for seasons without power.

ah today
only the shirll sparrow seeks the sky
our days are edifice
we look toward temples that give birth to sanctioned flesh.

o bring the white mask
full of the chalk sky.

entering the temple
on this day of sundays
i hear the word spoken
by the unhurried speaker
who speaks of unveiled eyes.

o bring the chalk mask
full of altitudes.

straight in this chair
tall in an unrehearsed role
i rejoice
and the spirit sinks in twilight of
distant smells.

o bring the mask
full of drying blood.

fee, fie, fo, fum,
i smell the blood 
of an englishman

o my people
wear the white masks
for they speak without speaking
and hear words of forgetfulness.

o my people.


I find that poem incredibly beautiful and it's usage of the Jack & the Beanstalk chant was so startling...now what I COULD find online was Baraka's "Black Dada Nihilism" and I got it from here.

It's pretty long, much longer than the Sanchez piece if you've never read it before, so I'll give you the first half and you can hit the link for the rest. That would be good to do.

. Against what lightis false what breathsucked, for deadness.                         Murder, the cleansedpurpose, frail, againstGod, if they bring him                         bleeding, I would notforgive, or even call himblack dada nihilismus.The protestant love, wide windows,color blocked to Mondrian, and theugly silent deaths of jews underthe surgeon’s knife. (To awake on69th street with money and a hipnose. Black dada nihilismus, forthe umbrella’d jesus. Trillby intriguemovie house presidents sticky on the floor.B.D.N., for the secret men, Hermes, theblacker art. Thievery (ahh, they returnthose secret gold killers. Inquisitorsof the cocktail hour. Trismegistus, havethem, in their transmutation, from stoneto bleeding pearl, from lead to burninglooting, dead Moctezuma, find the Westa grey hideous space.

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