“rise up, wordsmiths”

I spent two blessed hours today in Paneras’ Bread reading Jill Scott poems. She has a line in a poem entitled A Poet’s Home that arrested me:

Somewhere/
someplace where the craft is the mission
and the mission is the pleasure

She’s writing to and for people like me. Poets who love words and want to be the very best wordsmiths possible.

Scott calls us to “rise up wordsmiths.”

There’s a hullaballoo about Jill Scott coming to town. She recorded an album in 2000 (Who Is Jill Scott?) that still gets under my skin today. I remember the first time I heard it–It actually belonged to my son, Christopher. He was playing it in his car and giving me a ride somewhere. I heard her riff “la, la, la, la, la-la” on Long Walk and I was in love with her. It was like the Phyllis Hyman experiences I had had before. I HAD to have her music.

So I stole his CD and never gave it back. And claimed that it belonged to me, and put my name on it like I had paid for it. Luckily he did not call the police and we laugh about this even to this day, 10 years later.

Now I’m able to read some of her poetry. AWESOME. I love her stuff. I love her wordsmithing because she is real and raw. There’s a lot to be said for having a Masters of Fine Art in Literature. It sounds a certain way. But the way Jill writes poems takes your breath away and makes you think about what’s she’s saying.

Like how in her piece called It’s The Little Things, a grandma digs out a bugger while making her husband’s fried chicken dinner and somehow this makes sense…

While Grandma made her famous fried chicken
The tiny hairs in her nostrils began to tingle and twitch
No holds barred in her own kitchen
She stuck her pointer finger deep
Scratching the bothersome itch…

I read this three times before I realized what Jill was talking about. That’s okay, though, because there’s enough subtlety that it made me want to know more. That’s the kind of grab I’m after in my writing. A perfect blend of Shakespeare and Ebonics served up to shock the world.

Today at Paneras all I could do is write a few words. I wanted to start working on my spring poem (sensory pieces about my observations abot the change in the season. I’ve written one about autumn and winter and I hope to write one about spring and summer) but I wound up just reading Scott’s work for the most part.   Here’s what I could muster:

I will not attempt
a spring poem today
but rather
I will write music
because when i think of spring
i hear music
lyrics, rhythm and syncopation
of earth, nature, spirit
so my pen and paper
become lyrical contraptions
and I become a bitch
to them both

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