Poem of the Day – For Saundra
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
For Saundra i wanted to write a poem that rhymes but revolution doesn't lend itself to be-bopping then my neighbor who thinks i hate asked – do you ever write tree poems – i like trees so i thought i'll write a beautiful green tree poem peeked from my window to check the image noticed that the school yard was covered with asphalt no green – no trees grow in manhattan then, well, i thought the sky i'll do a big blue sky poem but all the clouds have winged low since no-Dick was elected so i thought again and it occurred to me maybe i shouldn't write at all but clean my gun and check my kerosene supply perhaps these are not poetic times at all
I really love this poem. I first read it a few years ago, and I always recite it in my head during times of trouble. Giovanni is almost everything I’m not: Black, activist, revolutionary, a famous poet. I can assure you that none of these descriptors limit the scope or applicability of her work.
She is a distinguished professor at the University I attend, and I found her to be extremely supportive, encouraging and accepting of most kinds of work. I have a few problems with some of her work, but she’s at the top of her poetic milieu.
I’m also impressed by her convictions. After the tragic Virginia Tech shooting, she read We Are Virginia Tech to the student body. At first I thought her enumeration of conflicts that seemed unrelated and ethnic in nature was offensive and irrelevant. She was taking the spotlight off the event and putting it on bigger world troubles.
After rereading her poem the other day, I found this wasn’t true. In it, she equates wars and plague and senseless death with the Virginia Tech shooting. If anything, her comparisons give ample gravitas to the tragedy. She read it well, and though it was clearly biased, it didn’t subtract from the weight of the event.
Anyway, this poem is older and greater than her recent work. She makes a powerful point, taking an angle that isn’t often taken. The power and force behind her message is something that we can all relate to. Perhaps these are not poetic times at all.
God Save the Books,