Sunday, March 8, 2009

[Tour] Tennessee

I've been awake since 6 o clock this morning, it's almost 2 now, and I'm running on a total of about 4 hours of sleep. So what's left to do? Blog, of course. Bernard's snores shall constitute my collective muse.

My girlfriend Regan dropped me off at Frank's place this morning. From there we drove to Bernard's place in Louisville. It was my first time there. I got a chance to run out and take some photos of York's statue while we were there though--the one that's on the cover of Frank's book. It was a piece of Affrilachian history; it'll be in our museum someday. Lewis was within gazing distance, looking like a creep. Meanwhile York has a gun, some ducks hanging from his hand, you know, typical pimp.

We began the trip at that point and talked the entire way there, trying to figure out the massive amounts of technology at our disposal, taping some of the conversations, missing many more, and many times taping each other taping each other. But we got a lot of good stuff too, and a decent start, I think. Some of the things talked about, either before or after we picked up Bernard (who I have only had the opportunity to meet because of the tour):

My embarrassing mishaps working at White Castle, and the Ricardo-esque statement posed by Frank: 'There's a poem in that.'

Family business that is not to be shared. Except in stories, and poetry.

The abolishmentof slavery as a method to enslave an entire new class of people in a new way.

Bernard and Frank almost got in a fist fight over Jack Daniels vs. Bourbon: Are they the exact same thing?

We ate at the Cracker Barrel. Which, of course was delicious. I got ham, grits, scrambled eggs, a biscuit, potato casserole, and fried apples. Being a poet makes you ravenous. I swear it. We talked business, marveled at the equipment Ricardo brought (mind out of the gutters), and wondered how many government agencies are tracking the group of colored folks with enough electronics to start their own independent enclave.

We got to the library and met with Norman. The whole event was awesome. There were people standing. At a poetry event.
There was also a ton of children, which messed up my game plan. My game plan began as 'choose some poems to read' but suddenly, it became 'don't scar the innocence of a dozen children.' Mission more or less accomplished.

Stumbled over my last poem, but overall pretty good. We watched children get their awards in a poetry contest they had run (out of 5 children recognised for each age group, nearly all of them showed up. The exception being the high school kids, of which, only one showed up. What's up with that, high school kids?)

It was all very nice. Bernard's poem about women's hair got the room rolling, Bianca's arc about violence was extremely poignant and relevant, and Ricardo and Frank's poems about divorce made a woman cry. And of course, Norman's poetry was awesome as hell.
We went to his place after we ate at the West Tennessee Examiner's home base, which was much like a very nice house. Physically as well as in the manner the community engaged with us and one another. Very much unlike the Community Recorder at home.

whole community was, though. The audience at the reading was something like 60% black, and the tow n apparently close to that as well, about half. That never hap pens. And they run poetry in the paper. I'm serious, they really do. We talked about a boy who was shot in the back running from the cops for a speeding ticket, or something like that. No matter where you're at, that's happening. It's like a real life archetype.

Norman's house was fun, we got to meet his wife, see the history he's made (published next to Langston Hughes, and he threw the letters away because they had critique about his poetry in them. Amazing). Then we eventually found a hotel, went to Arby's and got some food, and everyone else fell asleep. While I spent the entire night trying to get the files off my camera. Not entirely successful in that respect, but I do have photos, so it wasn't a wash.

I've got tons of ideas for poems, written in my moleskin and any scrap of paper I could find. The next blog will have something of that, maybe. The process itself presents itself tomorrow. Or that's the plan. For now, it's off to write, then sleep, tonight.

Writing prompt for today:

What does the road speak to you?

Dixie Stream

the road yawns before us, its horse whispers
croaking in a crinkling brown paper back in kentucky
trees stiff legged from laying so long.
when the water runs,
the road hums a dixie marching song
and the skin of the confedarcy waves good morning
from a pole thin as a silver switch.
the road nods politely
chatters excitedly with the rusty ribs of land
exposed and stretched away like a hot sweaty quilt.
it whispers something
so that the grass's bourbon cheeks blush again green
and the tennessee trees shake with laughter.
they flutter like soft cotton confetti
and the road smiles across the hills.
its hands shuffle color to color like dice
and pours its evening waters out to sea
leaving us helpless in the red and blue tide
then, it is silent

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