Wednesday, December 13, 2006


First Edition 1901 - Candle-Lightin' Time - Paul Laurence Dunbar

The telephone rang in another room and I flew past one of my bookcases that's stationed in the hallway to try to answer the phone before the call went to voicemail. On my way back (I did get the call, it was a lost fax machine trying to connect) my eyes fell on a book in that case - a poetry book - and it caused me to pause. I bought that book because I heard the poet performing his works a few years ago. Both the poet and the book are exceptional, but, unlike an excellent novel, his book didn't skyrocket up the list of best sellers and I have no idea what the status of his poetic career is presently.

Being a poet myself, this shouldn't have given me such pause. We know the score. A book seller at a major bookstore chain congratulated me not long ago because a hundred copies of my poetry book sold. That, I was told in excitement, made it a "best seller". I thought he was joking. He wasn't. He was quite serious. Contemporary poetry, he continued to enlighten me, is a very slow mover and not something either book sellers or distributors really like to handle much.

But poetry is critical to a society. It is the blood rushing through the society's heart, its truth and its timber. Odd that it should be viewed with such commercial disdain. I know I have been influenced by poets in my own life. I know I continue to be influenced by them. Some are unsung, some brand new, some a bit more familiar, but each a force and an energy I've been fortunate to encounter. I guess it is only right that I name a few, huh?

Gino L. Morrow - Spitfire (Poetry and Prose)
Jackie Young - Love's Reparations: The Learning Curve between Heartache and Healing
Linda Dominique Grosvenor - Love Lingers
Paul Laurence Dunbar - "Candle-Lightin' Time",
Merrit Malloy - "My Song for Him Who Never Sang to Me",
Stanley E. Banks - Rhythm and Guts
G. Highsmith-Hooks - The Soul of a Black Woman: From a Whisper to a Shout
Sonia Sanchez - Homegirls and Handgrenades
and Rita Dove - Thomas and Beulah

1 comment:

MsJayy said...

*giggle* I see my name on that list. I remember you mentioning that book before. And I have to check out a couple of the poets that you listed here.

As a poet and a poetry lover, it's hard for me to understand why poetry has such a hard row to hoe. I don't know if it's regarded with disdain so much as people are simply indifferent to it. For me, I know no other way that any one can be THAT naked before another person. With poetry, you shed more than clothes, you bare more than your physical body. I find that to be a consistency in this genre. Yes, it shows up in other genres to be sure but poetry is where it LIVES.

Good thing I write for the love of the genre, to allow the words to breathe freely on their own. Keep writing Sis!