In an essay entitled “Tough Eloquence,” poet Yusef Komuyakaa writes about the life and work of Etheridge Knight. There’s a story and poem towards the end of the essay that has always stayed with me throughout the years:
“Etheridge Knight died in March 1991. For more than a year before, at various readings, he’d say a poem by Melissa Orion, “Where is the Poet?” He often used to say he wished he’d written it. Of course, he had memorized the poem, as if reciting his own elegy:
So I went to Soweto and asked the wounded
Have you seen my friend the poet?
Oh no, answered the wounded, but we’re longing to
before we die
Maybe you should go to the prisons, they said
where there is loneliness, the poet should be”
Orlando has been on my mind all week, in my conversations with Ani as much as in my conversations on social media, but also in my heart, in my silences and loneliness. In my classroom, we have been having some difficult conversations about problematization and empathy, and I am proud of my students’ generosity to have these conversations, to discuss difficult issues with open minds. It’s done much for my spirit.
Through the many conversations, I have not had to wonder where the poet is. This piece by Denice Frohman as well as this poem by Roy G. Guzmán and this one by Christopher Soto (aka Loma) have meant much to me and others this week, and I share them for anyone in need of insight, solace, or catharsis.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who reads this blog and shares in the community, poetry, and positive energy of the weekly posts. I write driven by a faith in poetry, in words being a place where the ideas and emotions of life that overwhelm us at times can meet, mingle, and make a sort of sense to us, glimpses of the reality we share.
To everyone who stops by, thank you for sharing.