Friday, August 14, 2009

remembering the black arts movement (18)

remembering the black arts

to think is to release from all natural
downflow the power to build with light…
dane rudhyar

no consecrated wafer then for malcolm's riddled corpse;
no wine of any vintage for his blood.
poetic thought contained that host, that pure élan vitale.
did not repress it,
nor suppress it,
but compressed it –
gave it fathomless depth & profound stillness.

black art
must give a sense of the good & the true;
must give the sensibility to live productively,
responsibly, bound by a code of ethics.

a poet's verse unleashed its power to build with rite & lore
a whimsical expression of black art.
we sowed the wind & dared to reap a raging black aesthetic;
tried to express it
& possess it,
but impressed it
with our bittersweet hope & profound sadness.

black art
must edify & exalt black people;
must promote common self-recognition &

an angry muse this black aesthetic shaped our poignant song.
prose/poems ripped from buds by ruthless spring;
their funky scents the cloying tang of rhythm, rhyme & rancor –
did not repress it,
nor suppress it,
but caressed it;
gave into its narcosis & sweet release.

black artists
must be morally & culturally
responsible for their art;
the question of black survival is at its very core –
must be free of charge.

no consecrated wafer yet for malcolm's riddled corpse;
no wine of rarest vintage for his blood.
no transubstantiation – just a humble celebration
in poems
that compress it,
plays that confess it
& stories that possess it;
this sanguine ethos, this marvelously musty spirit!

© Joseph McNair; 2009


  1. Maybe one day, the black arts movement will get the widespread acknowledgement it deserves. Literally sprung from the blood of Malcolm X, the black arts movement set the tone for the new black poetry from 1965 -1980. Thanks for remembering