Saturday, July 09, 2011
Poetry is always in the Streets
Fuck Poetry: Bread Is The Politik of the Hungry
By Chaun Webster
Cover Art by Ricardo Levins Morales
Published by Free Poet's Press, 2010
In your face poetry is not for everyone. Especially, if the poet has freedom on her mind. Yet all poetry is in your face; you choose how close you want to get -- her intensity depends on how you accept or push back on the intimacy that forms in the space between your eyes, the inked page, your brain and the poet. Fuck Poetry: Bread is the Politik of the Hungry is no exception. Yet, Fuck Poetry's exceptionalism lies in how the author intentionally, no inseparably, links his class/race/gender working class-based full-color dream of revolution with no compromises.
Fuck Poetry takes aim at the real and pushes hard against commercialized culture, including poseurs and pimps that might breed off the contradictions of a racialized class society.
All poets who live and die by their words, or at least believe they would or could, share this impatience for the way the rotten world is. In poems, this poet knows what needs to be done to make things right, including how to make everyone human again. Love poets or class-struggle poets -- we're the same and accept rejection like a knife in the eye.
We Are All Poets, Really (except some are for and some are against liberation...*)
In the beginning, Chaun Webster slams poets who wordsmith and word-shine. He writes with the same honed wordsmithing except his is a radicalized vocabulary of political power and of the authentic self:
Fuck poetry that does not speak with actions
having verbs bouncin off papyrus
like ancient hieroglphic patterns
signalin change that matters
more than the currency
these currents be
comin from history-
the people are tired of mystery
going to coffee shops
hearin some nigga
and a ratted beard
talkin about reality PG
when the shit is X rated
this shit is amazin...
He ends his introductory poem-chant by coming clean:
Fuck poetry if it is not loud
with more than the volume that
comes from the larynx
we need poems clothed
with bareness of reality
so don't be mad at me
cuz i'm in contradiction
cuz when I said in the beginnin
i failed to mention
it's the only thing keep me livin
Webster provides his readers with a politik dictionary with poems on: Assata Shakur, political prisoner who escaped from a U.S. prison and now lives in exile in Cuba; the politics of radical's reaction to imperial events; a lot of out loud philosophical introspections, rants and inquiries into U.S. class and color realities.
Webster lays bare his frustrations at lack of revolutionary changes. Webster puts on paper his language challenge to the power of the State, exposing the normalized repression/oppressions, writing in places:
I swallow whole resistance histories
and spit people's justice
at the paper tiger...
i am not a poet
having temporarily traded
for the machine-gun
i am a guerrilla
i am angry
and i will never forget
the face of my enemy
Is this magical poetry? That is, those of who believe in the transformative power of our words, that by saying something, we unleash a consciousness-virus, a viral infection that challenges the reader, especially the cynic and apolitical to see reality through our political lense but who may not see anything but irreality and political fantasy in works like Webster's that are thoroughly political.
What's the use of poetry, especially poetry like Webster's? Paraphrasing the Old Man of working class revolution Karl Marx, who didn't understand the significance of race and racism in his time:
The poets have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
Webster's launches from the first into trying to change the world, even if it's one word at a time in his chapbook...
(*This subtitle is a paraphrase of the wonderful red poet Walter Lowenfels poetry chapbook, "We Are All Poets, Really.")