09 August 2008

Losses Weekend

In spite of the spectacular display China put on for the opening of the Olympics, it was a very sad weekend indeed. Not only did Russia invade Georgia, we lost three original voices.

Mahmoud Darwish
One of the world's finest poets, and a name always on my Nobel short-list. I still remember a number of years ago sending samzdat copies of Darwish's poems through the mail to friends, when his books were hard to come by here in the US. Many thanks to the folks at Archipelago Books (Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone?), Copper Canyon (The Butterfly's Burden) and The University of California Press (Unfortunately, It was Paradise), among others for correcting that error.

South African poet Breyten Breytenbach on Darwish

Bernie Mack

What a hilarious man. I vividly remember his routines on HBO's Def Comedy Jam (the off-colour nature of which he ill-advisedly reprised at an Obama event earlier this year). And by showing the tender side of the "Big, Angry Black Man" on his TV show, I'd like to think he expanded our notion of who African American men were. Also if you haven't done so, check out his very entertaining baseball film "Mr 3000"

Isaac Hayes

That voice! Those "Black Moses" posters and album covers we used to put up in our room 'Back in the Day'! For younger people, he was South Park's 'Chef'; for the rest of us, his "Theme from 'Shaft'" (or his long looong version of "By The Time I Get to Phoenix" or "Walk on By" or......) will be forever etched in our memories

Mark Anthony Neal on Hayes

What Baltimore's own Ta-Nehisi Coates says of Hayes and others applies to all these men: I feel like I'm watching the End of an Era. Will we see their like again?

I Come From There

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass. Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother,
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood,
So that I could break the rule. I learnt all the words and broke them up,
To make a single word: Homeland....

Mahmoud Darwish

1 comment:

Rethabile said...

I discovered Darwish late, and must make up for that. He was indeed a great voice.