Thursday, April 13, 2017

April is National Poetry Month - Blues Vision

Artwork by Ta-couma T.Aiken, “Speak”
Blues Vision
African American Writing from Minnesota 

Edited by Alexs Pate With co-editors Pamela R. Fletcher and J. Otis Powell

Blues Vision is a groundbreaking collection of incisive prose and powerful poetry by forty-three black writers from Minnesota who educate, inspire, and reveal the unabashed truth.

In celebration of April as National Poetry Month two poems from Blues Vision are featured this week. This anthology was co-published with the Minnesota Historical Society Press, which was made possible in part by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2004.

The Humanities Center offers educators a professional development opportuntiy focused around Using Blues Vision in the Classroom July 25-36, 2017 at the Humanities Center.

Apology for Apostasy?
by Etheridge Knight
Soft songs, like birds, die in poison air
So my song cannot now be candy.
Anger rots the oak and elm; roses are rare,
Seldom seen through blind despair.

And my murmur cannot be heard
Above the din and damn. The night is full
Of buggers and bastards; no moon or stars
Light the sky. And my candy is deferred.

Till peacetime, when my voice shall be light,
Like down, lilting in the air; then shall I
Sing of beaches, white in the magic sun,
And of moons and maidens at midnight.

by J. Otis Powell
There is no clean slate
No blank sheets of paper
To write our lives on
We palimpsestically erase
And rewrite existence like
Painters whitewashing
And rescaping canvas
With images telling new stories
Often by another painter
In some other time
With alterative visions
No story is complete
Life goes on in ways
That tells the same story differently
From other sides of truths
Celebrated narratives previously promulgated
Shading views ancestors left
Our stories don’t disappear under
Cover of news but hover like
Ghosts beneath dominant voices
Parchment establishes new anniversaries
With every twist of tongue
Every keyed in message 
Penned privet document
Of lives lived on a record 
Each year unrolls another scroll
Retelling stories to recover
From the pseudology of war
Every lesson confirms that fighting
Is the absolute right thing to do
In my rear view mirror I see
People with bad ideas
About what the world is made of
They will need to learn for themselves
I will need to fight where I can win
I never thought when
I was an undergraduate
Studying philosophy that aesthetics
Would become an over used word
But every time I turn an ear
In the direction of pop culture
Some artist is talking about life
Values and style
Flipping the script to post modernism
Uncomfortably confronting antiquated myths
Deconstructing master stories with
Post-traumatic truth 
Everyday is muffled
In acoustics
Of diamond sprinkled snow
Reflecting how hard
It is to be relevant 
We thought we knew
What we could not have known
And it made fools of us
Made us overreach and prevaricate
Had we known better we would have done more
But retrospect is false 
And the clock is relentless
Secretly I like the story so I’m perpetually
Telling it draft after draft in sequels

Available for purchase at the Minnesota Historical Society Online Store and

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