Tag Archives: creative literature

learning audacity

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(my autographed copy of “The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”)

I was introduced to Nikki Giovanni through the poem, “Ego Tripping”

“I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission”

“I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels”

I was maybe a senior in high school when I found Giovanni through this poem at my local library. And I remember the embarrassed feeling I got after I read the poem. I thought…”who is this woman bragging on herself?” “who does she think she is to be referencing herself a Queen and being the mother to Hannibal and Noah?” I remember it felt great but it was also foreign. I almost didn’t want to be caught reading it.

What I realize now is that may have been my first time being introduced to an African American feminine narrative.
The poem wasn’t about doors or boats from Robert Frost.
The poem wasn’t about hope and feathers from Emily Dickinson.
It wasn’t the blues from Langston Hughes.
It wasn’t Walt Whitman or Anne Sexton or Paul Lawrence Dunbar…
or my beloved Maya Angelou and her Caged Bird…

Nikki Giovanni was the first time I read an African American woman refer to herself as beautiful and being directly connected to all things beautiful in the art world of poetry.

I remembering sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle at the library and reading the poems in her book and imagining a Tennessee cloud looking like cotton candy… women being judged for the length of their Sunday school dresses… summer love… and even to this day when someone mentions her name… it makes me smile and remember meeting her in the library that afternoon.

When I walked across the Pettus Bridge in Selma for the 50th anniversary earlier this year, Rev. Al Sharpton said something in a sermon that struck a cord with me. He said, “We praise our dead and condemn the living.” It made me want to acknowledge everyone that has served as inspiration to me before they left this planet!

So today, I acknowledge Nikki Giovanni! I speak her name for inspiring me and making me feel so embarrassingly, wonderful and warm about myself one afternoon at the library 🙂 The audacity of learning from poetry!

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Becoming Water for New Seeds

2014-10-28 14.02.07

You are
the idea the African saw through the cracked wood of
the Henrietta Marie
You are
the seed of the new woman
the ecstasy in the fire
the gospel after poetry venues
praised on sidewalks and parking lots
you are now a prophet amongst preachers
burdened with the beauty of the entire rose
pick the thorns or keep them
just stay in tact / you came prickly and prissy
with a rampant river under your feet
your commitment will be constantly tested
through people using revolution to work our personal
problems
they’ll say you don’t fit the role / don’t look natural / ain’t ready to fight
you’re not committed to the destruction of the system
and they’re right
because you are a Creator / never forget that
You are a Creator
and you destroy the idea of death in order to live.

a Poem

Lyrics make it a song
Bars make it a rap
too long and too loud make it a theatrical monologue

unfortunately open mics don’t teach the difference

Poets make words jump from pages to dance
with whomever / even when they are not there

Poets can make water flow from their feet
for everyone to drink

Poetry makes people responsible
turns dreams prophetic

so discipline your ego and teach.
journalandpen

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ENJOY!

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Keeping My Nose This Time

       “It is not enough to be a woman writer. It is imperative that we are women writers who write about other women, responsibly.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to write rebuttals on misrepresentation or the utter absence of our literary presence.”

Recently I returned to the city that grew my art, Los Angeles, California.  It is not the city I was born and reared in, however; it is the city that I consider home.  Where I grew into a woman and an artist.

Not expecting anyone to write my story, a few years back I had the audacity to write a piece of Los Angeles poetry HERstory that was not talked about.  What prompts this post is, during my recent visit to Los Angeles when I spoke about this information in front of a crowd, I was asked to be mindful and tell the “whole story” of LA women in poetry.  Interestingly enough, I’ve never seen the “whole story” written by my male comrades nor during my visit did I hear any conversations that announced the “whole story” of women in poetry.  The four day span I was in Los Angeles, when “the good ‘ole days” conversations came up, there was a repeated rundown of the male figures that were prominent in the foundational game but the women were harmoniously absent from the listings.

Continue reading Keeping My Nose This Time

A lil R&R (a poem)

He said, “as sure as I’m sitting here / I shouldn’t be”
Playing on the devil’s playground / He had 3 bullets with my name on it
1 still in me
scratching his goatee & lifting his chin / he said he know why he’s still here

And it was because of something higher than the roof of that burrito joint
It was higher than the lamp post that shone on us through the tinted windows
It was higher than the billboard telling us what to drink to enjoy our evening
It was higher than the ghetto bird shining on it all
Higher than his weekly 3 g salary
Even higher than the overpopulated heaves of black men that are now angels

It was high enough to take away his foul ways of breath & pump his blood pure enough to unite with his original
7colors&7heavens&7sacraments&7sciences&7spiritual forces

Now he knows what being a G is all about.

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