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 6, 2009

Mari Evans, a poet you should know

"In addition to writing poetry, Evans has written articles and essays, as well as children's books and plays. She has been a professor at universities, including Cornell University, Indiana University, Spelman College, Purdue University, State of New York at Albany, University of Miami at Coral Gables, and St. Louis. In 1997, she was celebrated with her photo on a Ugandan postage stamp. She was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2002 for the liner notes she wrote for The Long Road Back To Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music." --Wilkipedia

Idiom is larger than geography; it is the hot breath of a people singing, slashing, explorative. Imagery becomes the magic denominator, the language of a passage, saying the ancient unchanging particulars."
--Mari Evans,

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Mari Evans was raised in a very traditional black family. She attended the University of Toledo.

Evans has lectured on literature, written, directed and produced a television program called “The Black Experience,” written a play (“River of My Song”), a musical based on Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and taught at Indiana University, the State University of New York at Albany, the University of Miami at Coral Gables and at Spellman College, Atlanta.

She has won numerous awards for her poetry, including the Indiana University Writers' Conference award, the Black Academy of Arts and Letters' first annual poetry award.

The poem “I Am a Black Woman” speaks to the pain of the black experience but also the resilience of black women.

I am a Black Woman

I am a black woman
the music of my song
some sweet arpeggio of tears
is written in a minor key
and I
can be heard humming in the night

I saw my mate leap screaming to the sea
and I/with these hands/cupped the lifebreath
from my issue in the canebrake
I lost Nat's swinging body in a rain of tears
and heard my son scream all the way from Anzio
for Peace he never knew....I
learned Da Nang and Pork Chop Hill
in anguish
Now my nostrils know the gas
and these trigger tire/d fingers
seek the softness in my warrior's beard

I am a black woman
tall as a cypress
beyond all definition still
defying place
and time
and circumstance
on me and be

To me, "Speak the Truth" is self-explanatory. But Evans says:

"Hearing the truth can free the mind so people can concentrate on constructive work. This poem admonishes blacks to be truthful in speech so audiences can "identify the enemy," distance themselves from conventions that enslave African Americans, and build a strong black nation with its own ideals."

Speak the truth to the people.

Speak the truth to the people

Talk sense to the people

Free them with honesty

Free the people with Love and Courage for their Being

Spare them the fantasy

Fantasy enslaves

A slave is enslaved

Can be enslaved by unwisdom

Can be re-enslaved while in flight from the enemy

Can be enslaved by his brother whom he loves

His brother whom he trusts whom he loves

His brother whom he trusts

His brother with the loud voice

And the unwisdom

Speak the truth to the people

It is not necessary to green the heart

Only to identify the enemy

It is not necessary to blow the mind

Only to free the mind

To identify the enemy is to free the mind

A free mind has no need to scream

A free mind is ready for other things

To BUILD black schools

To BUILD black children

To BUILD black minds

To BUILD black love

To BUILD black impregnability

To BUILD a strong black nation


Speak the truth to the people

Spare them the opium of devil-hate

They need no trips on honky-chants.

Move them instead to a BLACK ONENESS.

A black strength which will defend its own

Needing no cacophony of screams for activation

A black strength which will attack the laws

exposes the lies, disassembles the structure

and ravages the very foundation of evil.

Speak the truth to the people

To identify the enemy is to free the mind

Free the mind of the people

Speak to the mind of the people

Speak Truth

Books of poetry by Mari Evans:

1. A Dark and Splendid Mass (Harlem River Press, 1992)
2. Nightstar: 1973-1978 (1981)
3. I Am a Black Woman (1970)
4. Where Is All the Music? (1968)


Stella by Starlight said...

the music of my song
some sweet arpeggio of tears
is written in a minor key

What a voice. Thanks for sharing Evans' poem, MacDaddy. I miss blogging but am working many hours and my computer bit the dust.

My best to you, always.

Stella by Starlight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

Stella: I miss your voice on my blog and others as well. Hurry back to us.

Anonymous said...

Anon: Now i like this one too.

Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

Anon: I'm curious: what specifically did you like about this post? Which poem did you like? What is it about her writing that grabs you and will not let go? Thanks for dropping by.