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Saturday, March 30, 2019

When Poets Find Their Voices

“Poets find their voices when they articulate the wishes of the dead, especially those slain as sacrificial talismans to a larger frame of existence.” – Michael S. Harper

Born in Brooklyn, NY, in March 1938, Harper grew up in New York and Los Angeles and began creative writing while still in high school.  After studying at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in California and went on to a distinguished teaching career, including professorships at Colgate, Brown and Harvard.  
                        Using stories from both his family's past and events in black history in general, he built a sophisticated vision of racial encounter and experience through poetry and music.  He wrote 8 volumes of poetry, contributed to numerous journals and anthologies, and collaborated on numerous musical efforts born out of the African-American experience.  For Saturday’s Poem, here is Harper’s,


Saner in the 'golden moment'
“a capella”

the three idioms of song
scores coming at you  'fast'

one dying in refrain
a tyranny of magic making

only the chords
full tones as increment

'to live is to resist stillness'
except in the zone 

the soloists salute a 'chant of saints'
while the aria moans

alone on assignment
'the making' continues to shine

'to make' is to live live (italics mine)
where force is made   chorus made out of nothing          

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