Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Jayne Cortez

I take a bow to Jayne Cortez.

One of the central figures of the Black Art Movement, a relentless campaigner for Civil rights, a strong, outspoken African-American woman and above all an exceptional, musical poet and performer. Her poetry brought together the political, the lyrical, the surreal. In the anthology, Hoover calls her work “public and declamatory”, deeply rooted in the African-American tradition of jazz, blues and social protest.

For me it is the powerful mixture of political engagement and artistic practice which speaks to me more than anything else. Cortez once gave a summary of her understanding of her artistic work saying:
The arts are just a part of the weapons of life
Art can make us see and feel reality
and help change that reality
Art is revelation. Art is hard work
Art is a part of protest.
There it is… (http://www.jaynecortez08.com )

I definitely recommend listening to some of her poetry performances on YouTube – there is plenty to be discovered. Like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftrVsO4dP5o

My own dedication below.


~ - ~

For the poet (Jayne Cortez)

After today
another online petition share
newspaper blurb spoon-fed
in our follower’s mouths
not a drop trickling through the filter
bubble of complacency
singular existence of petty performers
as uniqueness builds battery cages
and we take pride in the shiny steel

After today
another 10 things we never cared about
but felt compelled because fomo stuck
as the urge contaminates our every
move towards crotch pocket
or fumbling under tables
scrolling along someone’s timeline
pixilated flat surface
in a world of gaping holes

After today
showing hashtag sympathy cutting
open scarred wounds with idle claims
of the good and the bad
black and white smugness
worn on virtual sleeves
as we catch the bus to work
blending smoothly in with the café
latte crowd of sugary froth

After today
Still waiting and waiting
and waiting and waiting
and waiting
and waiting and
waiting just
wait and always waiting
for something

your anger
your fucking roaring vicious anger
your cry-our-loud we-will-be-heard-standing-shoulder-to-shoulder pounding anger
your voice of sharkteeth and cockroaches
your voice of the poor the damned the dead
your voice coarse with pain and fever
your thunder of poetic wrath
just like in 77


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