Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pain into Power

Last week I got the chance to take a workshop from Daniel Beaty, a very talented writer/poet who works with students on turning their pain into power. He's noted for appearances on Def Poetry Jam and other spoken word programs. The Oregon Writing Project's annual writing retreat was the venue. A teacher working with a group of teachers is a powerful thing. After modeling a piece based on speaking to a person about the way it was and the way it could be, we worked on duality pieces. For Daniel, being a Yale educated kid from the ghetto states the case nicely. His piece cleverly featured a dialogue between the hustler homeboy and the educated young man. Kind of a Nigga/Negro thing. Since my previous efforts from his inspiration were intense personal pieces, I wanted to focus on something lighter. I immediately thought of my passion for horses as well as blues music. What resulted was this poem:

Bluesman V. Horseman

Inside the same pair of Levis
rides the horse whispering harmonica blower,
The world they inhabit wants them separate,
wants the sun to light a chestnut's mane
and the blackness of midnight glare
to shine off the chrome blues harp in my hand.

To put on those cowboy boots and walk
the tall stalls--talk all western-bout hoof picks and alfalfa
bits and bridles,
Then change that snap-button plaid shirt
put on burgundy satin,
the pulse of Southside Chicago when the first
bent note breaks your stride,

All in one day

From horse auction...
Do I hear 50...110...250...
Last chance, $300,000 for that Storm Cat filly...
To Juke joint...
Call it Stormy Monday-but Tuesday's just as bad,
Wednesday ain't no better,
And Thursday...Thursday
Thursday-Today and everyday now,
Same Blues; same blue jeans
Same sound-hoof beat
& back beat
It's all the same beat-

Ride Daddy Ride.

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