Sunday, August 4, 2013

you are the rhythm inside my head



like the singing coming off the drums


you are my first love
caught my breath through your eyes
rhythm beats between my thighs
*
i am your ugly duckling   your second daughter
mother you taught me how to birth poems upstream












Join us. *image: Cassandra Wilson

I am a Detroit poet. I came to poetry through culture and identification so when Shay asked us to write a poem within a poem, I returned to what I know. For me, poetry began with women who look like me, socially conscious women whose voices and passions mirrored my own. My first loves were Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni and Audre Lorde.

As a Detroiter, I am unbashedly proud of the contribution and legacy of Broadside Press. In short, I read poetry backwards. I identified first with the contemporaries and through them, I discovered the classics.

My contribution is inspired by Sonia Sanchez's collection, like the sing coming off the drums. Beacon Press (c)1998


linked for OLN. Join us.

26 comments:

  1. This is full of power and a sense of something being passed on and made more. Audre Lorde and Nikki Giovanni were two of my earliest discoveries, too. I'm going to have to find out about Sonia Sanchez now!

    Okay, I went and looked on my shelf and I have some Sonia Sanchez! Woohoo. I was also trying to find a poem I know I have someplace, but I can't remember the author's name; I just remember that she was black and lesbian and wrote this poem I just loved called "The Girl That I Marry." Wish I could find it!

    Anyway, I'm so glad you wrote this gem for my challenge, LaTonya. Thanks!

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  2. you taught me how to birth poems upstream...dang what a line...
    rhythm between my thighs, another great one...
    nice emphasis on the SECOND daughter, the ugly duckling accentuates that nicely too...

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    1. those are sanchez's words. we're suppose to incorporate her words/lines in the piece.

      thanks,

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  3. I love Giovanni's poetry, but I'm not familiar with Sanchez - from the snippets you have included in your poem, I can see they must be very inspiring. I the sensuality you bring to your poetry, as in the tercet at the heart of this poem. Lovely work, LaTonya.

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  4. I'm sad to admit of the three poets you mention, I've only read Audre Lorde, whose voice is one I deeply admire. There's no wrong way to come to poetry--we all get here through the words we love, that moved us, that made us feel and think. I appreciate the introduction to Sanchez in your piece, and will add her to my long list of poets I *really* need to read. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. You wrote on you RT entry how editing affects you and how you typically let poems sit and wait months before sharing. That got me thinking about how I write and process. I shared in my comment that I struggle to let my poems grow and I realize it's because my writing usually begins with a response to a prompt or something said or read, and I react so 98% of what I share are rough drafts. If a work has good bones, I'll write more after dialogue and reader response. Sometimes it's months and sometimes years later before I come back to a work. When I have the words and I'm ready, I groom a piece. I used to think I was lazy or lacked confidence. I think these are lesser issues. Truth is I write in concert with readers and community. The solitary work comes later.

      Anyhoo, I know this isn't done. This is the essence of a piece I know I'm writing. Thank you for taking time to regularly read and comment. I owe you more than a thank you, because I have come to look to you for insight and direction. And you give in abundance.

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  5. This is wonderful. I have to say Brian took the words right out of my mouth. = )

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  6. This is so clever! I love the effect of the fairy tale fabled notes. I am not familiar with some
    of the poets mentioned~ I can't wait to dive in~ YOUR poem is a gem and I love so many lines.
    I think my fav is:
    "mother you taught me how to birth poems upstream"
    Wonderful LaTonya!!

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    1. Sanchez was a huge influence when I began writing and I still romantically want to be like her. Thank you.

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  7. birthing poems upstream...amen to that

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  8. oh my, this is wonderful, and now I, too, have to go and look up these poets. There is no backwards way to read poetry, as long as we are here, it's just right.

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  9. I read like I have eyes in the back of my eyes, myself. Which is why my shyte is so damn reflective. You, though, I always read several times. Sideways. Headstand. Sitting, sometimes. :)

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    1. Oh, I love when a poem is something I want to read several times. A huge compliment. Thank you.

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  10. yeah couple times...- the key, backward - sometimes...:)

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    1. I hope it makes sense in whatever direction you take. :-)

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  11. Great write La Tonya! Have to look up these poets. It will be helpful certainly!

    Hank

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  12. This has the feel of a strong, primordial chord. I hear, feel, the drum banging!

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    1. When I saw the title of the collection ( I have other work by her), I fell in love with the volume. It is sensual and loving. The poems are small but the impact of each is significant. I sit thinking what you've read and how it makes you feel.

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  13. LaTonya, this is lovely and I also like "birthing poems upstream", that is quite a vision. Reminds me of salmon spawning, not sure why, but I love that also. I am familiar with Sonia Sanchez, but not the others, now I must look for them.

    Pamela

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    1. Spawning is what I was thinking, too. :-)

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  14. That rhythm will go far!! Your poem is a delight to me. I feel so lucky to live near Philadelphia where Sanchez lives and often reads. She is mentoring student laureates of Philadelphia as part of Apiary--or something like that. And long ago, I invited Audre Lorde to a Women in the Arts Conference (1980?)where she taught me a lot about accessibility to various audiences and to myself as a writer. I miss her. SO this posting reminds me of love and urgency and taking risks. Bravo!

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    1. I met and talked with Sanchez on two occasions. She is warm and kind and encouraging. I was working with girls at the time. She told me to remain strong. I wish I had met Lorde. She passed too young. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences with both. That's a gift to me.

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  15. This is one powerful piece of work...Profound.

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This is an interactive site. Dialogue is the aim here. latonya.blackandgray(at)gmail (dot)com

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I know what I think. I write to hear what you think. Let's talk about it.