Category Archives: Poetry

Black Power Dialectics (HUM415)

Note that this clip is prefaced with a commercial. Does that mean consumer capitalism has won? That it contains the seeds of its own destruction?

In any case, consider these words:

The course of revolution is 360 degrees.

Understand the cycle that never ends.

Understand the beginning to be the end and nothing

in between but space and time that I make or you make

to relate or not to relate to the world outside my mind, your mind.

Speak not of revolution until you are willing to eat rats to survive.

What can you do with these lyrics?

Dialectics in Exile

The village of Hollywood was planned according to the

notion

People in these parts have of heaven. In these parts

They have come to the conclusion that God

Requiring a heaven and a hell, didn’t need to

Plan two establishments but

Just the one: heaven. It

Serves the unprosperous, unsuccessful

As hell.

— Bertolt Brecht, “Hollywood Elegies”

Amiri Baraka (1934-2014)

Poet, playwright, provocateur, Black Power radical, Marxist-Leninist, founding member of the Black Arts Movement: Amiri Baraka exemplified the restless energy of a generation who came of age at the high point of a kind of postwar urban negritude. Impatient, inflammatory, intelligent, and indignant– impossible to commodify– Baraka never backed down.

Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (HUM470)

Other Fugitives and Other Strangers

BY RIGOBERTO GONZÁLEZ

The nightclub’s neon light glows red with anxiety
as I wait on the turning lane. Cars blur past,
their headlights white as charcoal.
I trust each driver not to swerve. I trust each stranger
not to kill me and let me cross
the shadow of his smoky path.
Trust is all I have for patrons at the bar:
one man offers me a line, one man buys the kamikaze,
another drinks it. Yet another wraps his arm
around my waist. I trust him not to harm my body
as much as he expects his body to remain unharmed.
One man asks me to the dance floor, one asks me
to a second drink, another asks me home.
I dance, I drink, I follow.
I can trust a man without clothes.
Naked he conceals no weapons, no threat
but the blood in his erection. His bed unfamiliar,
only temporarily. Pillows without loyalty
absorb the weight of any man, betray
the scent of the men who came before.
I trust a stranger’s tongue to tell me
nothing valuable. It makes no promises
of truth or lies, it doesn’t swear commitments.
The stranger’s hands take their time exploring.
Undisguised, they do not turn to claws or pretend
artistic skill to draw configurations on my flesh. They
are only human hands with fingertips
unsentimental with discoveries, without nostalgia
for what they leave behind. I trust this stranger
not to stay inside me once he enters me.
I trust him to release me from the blame
of pleasure. The pain I exit with no greater
than the loneliness that takes me to the bar.
He says good night, I give him back
those words, taking nothing with me that is his.
The front door shuts behind me, the gravel
driveway ushers me away. The rearview mirror
loses sight of threshold, house, sidewalk, street.
Driving by the nightclub I pass a car
impatient on the turning lane. My hands are cold
and itch to swerve the wheel, to brand
his fender with the fury of my headlights.
But I let this stranger live
to struggle through the heat and sweat
of false affections, anonymous and
borrowed like the glass that washed my prints
to hold another patron’s drink.

Ulysses (HUM303)

Just something to ponder. Written in 1833, Tennyson’s poem takes as its subject one of the most revered of adventurers in the western tradition, Ulysses (the Romanized version of Odysseus).  The impulse expressed in these lines encapsulates the aesthetic and political motives of adventure fiction as “romance”, though notably in an elegaic mode. Recall Haggard’s brief essay, “About Fiction” and consider Showalter’s “King Romance”: adventure romance is the textual space in which a revivified masculinity exercises its mastery. The gaze of the adventurer is imperial; it seeks to comprehend the world and its secrets. Experience becomes a form of control, a means of assimilating the Other and thus expanding masculine consciousness. In this sense “to pause, to make an end,/ To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use” is to surrender the prerogatives of white, male (ruling class?) power. 

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