Showing posts from 2006
HIP HOP DOO WOP FROM A POET IN TAIWAN by Afaa Michael Weaver (Michael S. Weaver) I was young enough to sing doo wop in the early nineteen sixties, and in the late seventies I was still young enough to appreciate the emergence of rap. Hiphop, doowop, and rap are all words that have come and gone in African-American culture. Hip has been around as long as Cab Calloway's "Salt Peanuts" and hyedeehyedee hay and hyedeehyedee ho. Hop is part of the word for Lindy Hop, a dance popular some years before I was born, and rap was the way you talked to someone you wanted to date in the nineteen sixties. If you watch an American black and white gangster film from the thirties, rap will most likely be the time done for the crime. Or it might be a bum rap. Today hip and hop and rap have more to do with folks like Jay Z. The December 4th issue of Newsweek magazine has a long feature story on Jay Z, a multimillionaire in the hiphop business who desc…

from Afaa M. Weaver

My friend the poet Yu Jian took this photo of me in an old park there in Kunming, his home, a lovely city in southwestern China. After work people come to the park to play music and sing, to play games, to sit and chat. We spoke in Mandarin, the Chinese that links together a country of many cultures and languages, so there was no way for me to escape. It is the best situation for a student of the language. The park is quite old, and Yu Jian expalined to me that he played there as a child.

"Come back here, Yu Jian," his mama would say when he ran off away from his parents. He and I are the same age, give or take two years with me as the older poet, but in Kunming Yu Jian is called "Lao Shi," which means "Teacher," a title of respect.

It was a warm day in spring of 2005 when I went to Kunming after a trip to Hai Nan where I visited the poet Wang Xiaoni and her hu…

It was joyous. It was spectacular. It was a moment to be cherished, this 10th anniversary celebration of Cave Canem, the first retreat for black or African-American poets in America’s literary history, founded by the poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1996, ten years ago. I had the privilege of being one of the first two poets invited to teach at Cave Canem, along with Elizabeth Alexander. After my year as a faculty member, I was named the organization’s first Elder, in keeping with some West African traditions. Cave Canem is admired, appreciated and supported by a racially and ethnically diverse group.

Some might ask why there has to be a retreat for black poets. The answers are as old and continuous as America, going back to Thomas Jefferson’s dismissal of the work of Phyllis Wheatley as being “below the dignity of criticism” and in views still held by som…
Judges declare Foxy Brown has innocence. After deliberation, the judges stated clearly that there was no flailing of the nails in the Chelsea, New York nail shop. Enough is enough says
--Afaa Michael Weaver
After plopping down twenty-five dollars for Juan Williams' new book entitled Enough, I quickly discovered that it is a book by a journalist. It lacks the hard information of something done by a specialist, but it does what a journalist does in generalist writing, which is to stir the emotions around key images and current issues--words being slung across the wires. Wired we are, these days, for sure. For my money the book The Covenant by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West is much more useful and practical, full as it is with definite plans, complete with examples for each plan. Theirs are plans for action. Again I come back to the middle class vs. working class, and I have a little to say on that by way of my own experience. However, I make …
Stanley Crouch Says Enough is Enough Where is all this negativity coming from anyway? I wonder who's wandering...Afaa Michael WeaverThe New York Daily News became a bit of an obsession for me this summer. I was looking to make another step toward getting connected again after spending a good bit of time studying Chinese in Taiwan and traveling in China a bit the year before. The convenience store across the street, one owned and operated by an Egyptian friend, always has the New York Daily News. So there I was again this past Thursday August 24th, buying the newspaper that makes it its business to grab your attention. Brother Crouch was defending Juan Williams new book, Enough, which, according to Crouch, has put Williams squarely in the clash between the black middle class who wants to "blame the victim" and the poorer, more urban class of African-Americans who are getting so much projection…