I had planned to postpone part two of “Inspiring Authors and Poets” until next week. That was until I read a poem by poet, writer, commentator and educator Nikki Giovanni yesterday. So here’s a continuation from Monday’s post with some more poetry.
Now I’m not as familiar with the poetry of Nikki Giovanni but this one blew me away. It’s a poem I can relate to, as I find it similar to Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. Mother to Son addresses the relationship between parent and child. As the parent teaches the child an important life lesson to not give up easily.
Poem for Black Boys takes a different stance. As narrator, Nikki Giovanni addresses the constant bombardment of negative notions of black society/culture. As it’s directed towards black youth as if that way of life is the norm. You can read a brief review/deconstruction of the poem here.
As a mother of two boys, my greatest concern is if they will become little Riley’s. Would they embrace what they see on TV? Would they fall in with the wrong crowd? All because it’s glorified and made to look cool. I’d rather they’d be more like Huey Freeman, and grow up to be strong, black men who are pillars to their community and fellow man. Not its danger.
Poem for Black Boys
Where are your heroes, my little Black ones
You are the Indian you so disdainfully shoot
Not the big bad sheriff on his faggoty white horse
You should play run-away-slave
Or Mau Mau
These are more in line with your history
Ask your mothers for a Rap Brown gun
Santa just may comply if you wish hard enough
Ask for CULLURD instead on Monopoly
DO NOT SIT DO NOT FOLLOW KING
GO DIRECTLY TO STREETS
This is a game you can win.
As you sit there with all your understanding eyes
You know the truth of what I’m saying
Grow a natural and practice vandalism
These are useful games (some say a skill even learned)
There is a new game I must tell you of
Its called Catch The Leader Lying
(and knowing your sense of the absurd you will enjoy this)
also a company called revolution has just issued a special kit for little boys called Burn Baby
I’m told it has full instructions on how to siphon gas and fill a bottle
Then our old friend Hide and Seek becomes valid
Because we have much to seek and ourselves to hide from a lecherous dog
And this poem I give is worth much more than any nickle bag or ten cent toy
And you will understand all too soon
That you, my children of battle, are your heroes
You must invent your own games and teach us old ones how to play.
(From Black Judgment, copyright 1968, by Nikki Giovanni)
On another note, a Google+ group member informed me that there is a biographical MG novel about Phillis Wheatley. And it was published by Patriot Press, Inc. in 2005. You can find out more here.
PS. April is National Poetry Month and I’m looking to spread a little poetry love with 30 days of posts of poetry. I’ve dubbed it my “30 Days of Poetry” project! If you’re interested or know of someone who might be, then sign up below and or share it using hashtag #npm15.