Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Poetry Hurts Today

To those of you close to me, you've heard the story time and time again about my stubbornness as a high school kid who didn't read his first book (in its entirety) until the last semester before graduating. At the time my English teacher was teaching Shakespeare. I sat in the back of the class, making these snide remarks taking everyone's attention away from the lesson. The teacher pulled me to the side and and demanded an explanation for the disruption. From what I remember, I said something like:

Who talks like that? We will never need to know anything about this Shakespeare vato. I can't relate!

She then said, "Tomorrow I will have a book for you that you'll enjoy" I doubted it. But in a way looked forward to it. I walked to class the following day, Macbeth on the VCR player and me with a "me vale" attitude about it. Before class ended she walked up to me and handed me:


Claude Brown became my instant hero. Poverty, violence, offensive language, drugs....I was hooked. Brown opened the door to literature in my soul. after Manchild I would welcome Richard Wright into my world...Black Boy, Native Son and Rite of Passage. I always had to read pages over and over again until I got it, eventually I did and followed suit by reading the classics - until I hit a wall with James Joyce's Ulysses. By this time nothing could deter me from loving to read. Although I could relate to the poverty, drugs, etc..there was something missing....Mi gente!

Two years later I came across Luis J. Rodriguez' "Always Running"-based on his life as a gang member in East Los Angeles. Now I can really relate. 

Along the way I picked up some Octavio Paz, Carlos Castañeda, Miguel de Cervantes, Neruda, Victor Villaseñor and Lorca. 

I dabbled in writing, mostly letters to girls and personal journal writings. I found that Luis J. Rodriguez and Richard Wright also wrote poetry.....WHAT? 

Many years would pass and my love for literature would have its break ups and make ups 
until around 2004 or so...Even though I knew Luis was alive I thought all the poets were dead. I mean literally, poetry was not something people did. Well they did, and still do. I have been blessed to meet so many wordsmiths that have inspired me and my writings along with muses and those long gone. 

I read poetry.
I try to read lots of it.
I never really indulged in the words of Maya. But I damn well knew her importance and poetic sainthood in this world. I found "phenomenal woman" at a book store and brought it home not too long ago and thought, "that's beautiful."

Today I've read testimonies of those that met her and knowing I never will, sucks. 

Poetry hurts today.

Rest in Peace Maya Angelou
April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014