2: I was wrong

I was so close to skipping the reading last night, but luckily I spoke with E. before it began and we talked each other out of philosophy homework and into poetry. I’m so thankful that we went after all! Amiri Baraka was wonderful: wise, funny, and sharp. I have been to shamefully few readings considering that I am an english major with a keen interest in poetry, so this doesn’t mean as much as it might coming from someone else, but he is easily one of the best readers I’ve ever seen. Poems that on paper I would skim through with a shrug and then forget instantly came alive to his voice, proving again what I have always known anyway: that poetry must be put into the air before it truly imparts its meaning, and that a poem read well by the person who birthed it is magical, mystical, vital. After one poem, E. caught my eye, thumped at her heart, and made her hands into birds: he soars, she was saying with her gestures, and he takes me with him. I didn’t look to see her reaction for the next poem; I was too tearful, incapable of taking my eyes from him.

It saddens and troubles me that I almost missed out on such a wonderful experience because I was too ready to listen to the pervailing tone of my english deparment, the line I was told by a teacher when I asked, having just read and liked the few poems of his my anonymous poetry anthology included, why we weren’t going to be reading any Baraka? “Oh, he’s off the political deep-end these days,” my teacher said. “Yeah, he wrote some decent stuff, he’s earned his spot, but it’s been years since he produced anything worthwhile. I doubt he ever will again.”

Tonight disproved it, disproved it all. Conclusion: do not listen to what your english department, those people of power in your academic life, have to say about who is good and who is not. They’ll probably be wrong. Also: never forget that anything you think will probably be wrong as well. I am working on revisions to my opinion on political poetry.

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~ by Not Alice on November 2, 2007.

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