by Ted Wilson
By Amiri Baraka
If this is a first book, it is only in the
literal sense. Meaning, the presence the book projects is deep
with accreted experience and its perception, rationales and
their use as poetry reaches much deeper into the author and the
reader than most firsts. The work tells us Wilson has been
around the whole construct of art, writing and political
commitment, and has even penetrated, with his knowing, the
"hard heads and soft behinds" of both the aesthetic
and social base of what he has witnessed. As living
consciousness, in the day to day wasteland of Dis and
concomitantly as an artist.
But to be an artist, a term so bitten by opportunism and
dissembling distortion, one must re-remember constantly what it
does mean. To Create, from the only essence that the goodness of
the infinite creating comes from . . . Truth and Beauty (Dig
Keats, DuBois), the candidate must, it seems, regard his own
consciousness as capable of generating those qualities with as
much materiality and certainty as the existing world.
So that when the work is somehow collected and presented, it
must be the result of a sharp focus on the external and the
internal. With such willful determination that it is the real we
come away with, not just the banter of yet another subjective,
usually privileged, but many times near tragic "notness."
We carry what we are as who these experiences, as the context
of our motion through life, make us. It is, in the main,
environment, and our perception, clear or unclear rationale or
explanation of what is perceived, and then our use. Where
we are and how we know and who we want to understand we are to
become is material life, as culture, consciousness and the
fundamental social life as we scramble for food clothing and
shelter and the context of that.
Wilson I met in the 60s Black Arts eruption of mass and
individual development. The period when "Revolution"
was The main Trend in The World Today." Specifically as a
mover characterized by the sometimes frantic but ultimately
profound upsurge of the Afro-American people to redefine
themselves, as an aggressive act of Self Determinism. Malcolm X,
Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro, The Black Panther Party, the
Liberation of the African Nations from straight out colonialism,
these were some of the dimensions of our growing, and Ted Wilson
was an active and conscious player in that revolutionary motion.
A cadre of the movement, however defined, that left much of the
world with new understanding and a new era of multidimensional
So that Wilson is shaped by some of those concerns and has
come to this place from that earlier place through a ubiquitous
and formidable complex of events, processes, trends, ideas,
reflections, reunderstandings, commitments. We are shaped by our
lives as our lives and this is the self that reflects and
recalls and thinks, creates, and destroys.
The Black Arts Movement in Harlem in 1960s was the social and
aesthetic force that produced these affirmations:
wanted an art, a poetry that was BLACK, i.e. Afro-American in
form and content, as recognizable as such as Petey Wheatstraw or
wanted an art, a poetry that came out of those close circuits of
maledict, out of the tidy impotent classrooms and holy quarks of
the IN. That would leave the alabaster whatnots of the Ain't and
dance in the street so what they bee'd cd really be see'd. We
wanted poetry that would mean something to the great masses of
people, particularly we wanted to animate the lives of Black
people and be animated by the whole of our mass selves.
wanted most a Revolutionary Art, an art that would help liberate
Black people, an art that would help tear this whole playhouse
of national oppression and racism rat down!
Sometimes, e.g. the story Willie, the surface can
easily be seen in the light of the first two aspects of the
rubric, but here the heart of the narrative is like an outline
of consciousness acquired. An archetype which describes the
dimensions of a particular culture, a particular time place and
condition, and like the novel of youth growing to adulthood, is
heaviest as a paradigmatic recall of that.
The poetry, as well, carries a specific history, even its
speech and reference characterize a path a maintenance a
reconfirmation of a certain social consciousness that is easily
related from the natural context of its author's understanding.
He is telling us, but initially re-telling himself.
He says "we are not writing for us but to us."
Though the "to us" is, in practice, initially . . .
emotionally and intellectually, "for us," particularly
if its effect is to lift us reacquaint us with our strengths and
weakness. It is the directness of its Use as literature . . .
"like the music we play . . . ya digg?" that reaches
beyond the page into our own becoming.
There are many contradictory reflections. "Black as my
heart the night grows whiter," even a continuous
undercurrent of agnostic indecision . . . as to what is real or
real real or the unreal . . . but it grows incisive . . .
"a narrow passageway/ a window of despair." Positing
that that is how the real gets known!
Dance is full of colliding Yeses and Nos, as when he
says, "no blues . . . a wheel of fortune . . ." but
the book, if it is anything, is one material meaning of the
blues, and the middle passage from "our favorite
color" to such deep tragedy it haunts us all, even sweet
even pretty, yo funky . . . "blues be good, be good be good
. . . " at the margins of our consciousness "a night
The poet says he is "a passenger" . . . in what
vehicle we wonder. Perhaps like Sun Ra's telling . . . "
You on the spaceship Earth and you outward bound, destination
unknown. But you haven't met the captain of the spaceship
That is the essence of the contradictory stances, except he
is a passenger in and as his own own self. The coming
consciousness of the reality of the personal vehicle and the
larger vehicle given to him by his sense-world, that is real and
his own reflection which is the poetry.
"We come here from Goree" . . . deep recall . . .
"Space is the place . . . sorry but I can't take you . .
." Ra, direct, matter and its dissociative reflection. The
whole spectrum of digging not yet clearly resolved, so that
there is a constant reverberation as to what is believed and
what is known what is thought what is actual.
Speech itself, the elder registration, precise in its
twisting and specific touching. "Dap Daddy smiled a beaming
smile/ all the while growling." If we recognize what is
"Dap" who and where for is "Daddy," we know
at once for the complete image, just exactly why he smile and be
at same time inside wild. Yes, indeed.
The cultural motif like speech, is observation and history,
registration and description. "The night was a flatted
fifth," evoking a whole passion, period, way of looking at
the world, place, art. We are swept with the familiar, but
always renewed by the power of a precise digging, a reawakened
Wilson's title, as many of the pieces are political upfront
and down under. Liberation is more than a statement, it is an
emotional commitment. Hence, poems to people like the popular
Pan-Africanist, Elombe Brath, his name something to conjure
with, and the work draws someone not familiar with the person
into the practice that is that person.
Mao sd, we must create art that is artistically powerful and
politically revolutionary at the same time. It is a life's work,
to bring the two modes of seeing which are actually inextricable
in reality, to the conjunction of our rationale and use. Wilson
is beginning, not as a persona, but as a public cultural worker,
artist, to go to that awesome space around and within himself.
Brooklyn, NY: Shamal Books, 2003 /
Contact: Shamal Books, GPO Box 16, NYC 10116
(718) 622 4426
Wilson, formerly with Pride and
Liberator magazines, is a writer, producer, and promoter, most recently
with the Bread Is Rising poetry series in New York City.
A cultural worker since the 1960s Black Liberation/human rights
movements, Ted's writings have appeared in several journals: The
Black Nation; Black American Literature Forum; Callaloo;
NOBO: Journal of African American Thought; and
Amiri Baraka: The Kaleidoscopic Torch (ed.
J.E. Gwynne); In Defense of Mumia
(eds. S.E. Anderson, T.
Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American
Writing (eds. L. Jones, L. Neal); New Rain #9: Our
Fathers/Ourselves (eds. G. Johnston, M. M'Buzi Moore)].
He also works as a Construction Manager Consultant and
Developer currently involved in an effort to develop a
Cultural/Arts district in Newark, New Jersey.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Let Loose on the
Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75
Edited by Karen D.
Taylor and Louis Reyes Rivera
intro by Mumia Abu
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In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign. The Economy
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Sex at the Margins
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
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The White Masters of the
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By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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29 February 2012