Monday, January 18, 2010

The Role

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to perform a set of my poems. Afterwards, I was speaking with someone who expressed that they really enjoyed what I did, but questioned how I was able to say some of the things that I do considering my spirituality. My response was that I felt it was essentially the role of the artist, regardless of the medium, to tackle hard subjects, interjects the truths of those they make art for or about, etc. A lot of times, a blunt approach tends to be what transcends people who otherwise wouldn't have any interest in what you're doing.

As fate would have it, a couple of days ago I stumbled across an interview that featured poet June Jordan (check her out if you're no familiar with her output), and she was asked a similar question. Here's how she handled it:

"The role of the poet, beginning with my own childhood experience, is to deserve the trust of people who know that what you do is work with words." She continued: "Always to be as honest as possible and to be as careful about the trust invested in you as you possibly can. Then the task of a poet of color, a black poet, as a people hated and despised, is to rally the spirit of your folks." The author also noted: "I have to get myself together and figure out an angle, a perspective, that is an offering, that other folks can use to pick themselves up, to rally and to continue or, even better, to jump higher, to reach more extensively in solidarity with even more varieties of people to accomplish something. I feel that it's a spirit task."

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