TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nikki Giovanni & Audre Lorde, two poets you should know

Today, the daddy is feeling good. He has already awaken, had a cup of java, lingered in his backyard a bit then strolled a few blocks up and down the street near the front of his house.

Still in his brown housecoat, he's sitting now in his kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee from his "Mickey's Diner" cup (named after a famous cafe in St. Paul, Minnesota. The cafe is actually a train car, small and intimate. Sometimes, the daddy goes there and talks to the customers, many of whom are homeless, including veterans of Vietnam and Iraqi war). And he's listening to Mahalia Jackson sing "Precious Lord" and "We shall overcome" and blogging.


Having had a restful weekend and feeling no desire to do any work at all, the daddy is chilling. In fact, he is thinking about the things that help him to relax: Listening to Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, The Five Blind Boys and The Soul Stirrers sing gospel on Sundays; walking by the Mississippi river on weekends; and reading by the fireplace until he goes to sleep during week nights.

The daddy especially loves to read poems about relaxation, meditation, restfulness and calm. He loves poems about water, work and play on farms (the type of stuff Seamus Heaney writes) or simple things around a house like gardening, bathing or cooking. Poet Nikki Giovanni may be better known for fiery poems she wrote about revolution and black militancy in the sixties, but this is vastly overstated. The truth? She wrote then-- and still writes now-- about herself, her relationships, her family and the world around her. In "A Certain Peace," Giovanni (photo on the right) speaks of the importance of making time to be alone. After many years, Giovanni continues to astound with her mastery of her craft and her tremendous imagination.

The late Audre Lorde was more than a poet. She was a social activists for many causes, including the cause of research to conquer breast cancer. Like Giovanni, she was mistakenly stereotyped as a person who wrote poetry that's too political and/or didactic. But she also wrote poetry that was bittersweet and grounded in black history, the missing pages of world history. In "The Day They Eulogized Mahalia," Lorde (photo on the left) puts Mahalia Jackson's death within the context of black life in Chicago.


A Certain Peace
by Nikki Giovanni


it was very pleasant
not having you around
this afternoon
not that i don't love you
and want you and need you
and love loving and wanting and needing you

but there was a certain peace
when you walked out the door
and i knew you would do something
you wanted to do
and i could run
a tub full of water
and not worry about answering the phone
for your call
and soak in bubbles
and not worry whether you would want something
special for dinner
and rub lotion all over me
for as long as i wanted
and not worry if you had a good idea
or wanted to use the bathroom

and there was a certain excitement
when after midnight you came home
and we had coffee
and i had a day of mine
that made me as happy
as yours did you

The Day They Eulogized Mahalia
by Audre Lorde

The day they eulogized Mahalia
the echoes of her big voice were stilled
and the mourners found her
singing out from their sisters mouths
from their mothers toughness
from the funky dust in the corners
of Sunday church pews
sweet and dry and simple
and that hated Sunday morning fussed over feeling
the songs
singing out from their mothers toughness
would never threaten the lord's retribution
any more.

Now she was safe
acceptable
that big Mahalia
Chicago turned all out
to show her that they cared
but her eyes were closed
And although Mahalia loved our music
nobody sang her favorite song
and while we talked about
what a hard life she had known
and wasn't it too bad Sister Mahalia
didn't have it easier
earlier
Six Black children
burned to death in a day care center
on the South Side
kept in a condemned house
for lack of funds
firemen found their bodies

The daddy thinks he'll take a long, hot bath and think about Nikki Giovanni and Audre Lorde-- two poets you should know.

13 comments:

Nun in the Hood said...

Dear MacDaddy, You may not know it, but you have some of the characteristics of a CHRISTIAN with all the chilling you're doing today! In our tradition we celebrate Easter for 50 days....You know, we believe there is an 'earthquake' in our hearts and it takes a long time to realize that JESUS IS TRULY RISEN...like 2000 years and we still don't live like we get it...
If you go to Walgreen's today as you're chillin' you will find bunnies and baskets on sale 70% off! They don't know it's still Easter....We Americans rush on to the next holiday without savoring the one we prepared for for several weeks! So, chill on and enjoy some more of that poetry...It's beautiful!!! Chistian or not, you have a great spirit....

Anonymous said...

Nun in the Hood,
Didn't know this. Are there special traditions for celebrating in these 50 days? I agree the Daddy has a great spirit.

nUN IN THE hOOD said...

A note to Annonymous: Thanks for taking the time to ask the question....Actually, the eight days after Easter are celebrated by what we call a Solemnity....special readings from the Acts of Apostles and Gospels regarding the Resurrection appearances,. lots of incense, candles, etc...40 Days after Easter we celebrate the Ascension and on the 50th Day, Pentecost, coming of the Holy Spirit...These days are are also marked by opportunities for new members to reach out to those in need...And then there's always the chocolate eggs and jelly beans...I have OD'd on those already!!!! Happy Fifty Days! Christians consider Easter a bigtger Feast than Christmas, although I used to argue that one with my students. Long story short...It's a time in MacDaddy's words TO CHILL!

MacDaddy said...

Nun: Thanks for making us all understand that Easter didn't end on Sunday. It's people who come here like you that make me like the comment section of this blog as much as the posts themselves. Blessings.

Somebodies Friend said...

Hey MacDaddy,

It's been quite some time since I've been to your blog. My computer died and I am of limited means, so I still don't have another one. I was able to use a friends today so I thought I'd give you a shout.

I love these poems, I remember the first time you ran them. They speak to me. Of needing time alone to reflect, but also enjoying your loved ones when you get a chance to spendm time with them after a long absence. The feeling of closeness that comes from being seperated for a minute.

Nun in the hood: I love your Easter facts, and that the celebration has just begun, that Easter day is only the start of the holiday.

It does take us a long time to realize that Jesus has risen, but I have never heard of the 50 days of Easter, maybe the twelve days of Christmas {laughs}

I like what Nun said about these coming 50 days being a time to reach out to new members, those in need. It's all about helping others, we will get back twice as what we give when we help those in need.

But 50 days is quite a while, if we celebrate for that long what is going to happen when the 50 days pass? At least in December after the twelve days of Christmas Santa Claus comes and brings me something nice.

And I agree with the Daddy, I always liked the cmment section of this blog as much as I did the posts that were discussed.

I'll try and stop by again soon MacDaddy, hope all is well.

MacDaddy said...

Somebody: Welcome back! I'm sure I and the readers who come here miss hearing from you. And of course you're correct in your comments about the Nun in the Hood...

Listen, I hope things keep getting better and better for you. And I also you stay in touch. By the way, at many libraries you can use their computers for free. But I'm just glad to hear from and know that you haven't forgotten us. We sure haven't forgotten you. Come back as soon as you can. Blessings, my brotha.

MacDaddy said...

Somebody: I forgot to mention that, in conjunction with April as National Poetry Month, I'm doing a lot of poetry. Some of them are re-posts. Some are new. I know you love poetry; and I'm looking forward to you coming back and letting me know what you think. Talk to you soon.

Anonymous said...

SOMEBODIES FRIEND ~~

WELCOME BACK!!!

Anna

Somebodies Friend said...

I'll be sure to stop back soon, and I'll try to return often.

Peace Bro!

Mikael said...

Love your blog. Are you a homeschooler?

judy said...

Daddy, First, I love the beginning of this post - the images of you unfolding at the same leisurely pace as your morning. I love the poems too, especially A Certain Peace which I read several times because of its music and the way I know exactly what she means. The best writing does that, I think, stirs a feeling of familiarity inside you a sense of knowing even what you may never have experienced yourself.

nicki nicki tembo said...

Interesting series that you've got going here.

I'm curious as to how you arrive at the decision of which poets to juxtapose.

MacDaddy said...

Mikael: Your first time at this blog? Well, sign up as a follower at the top of my sidebar and come back again. Look forward to hearing from you.

"The best writing does that, I think, stirs a feeling of familiarity inside you a sense of knowing even what you may never have experienced yourself."
Judy, you say it so well. Then why would I expect less from you. You're such a good writer. Thanks.