Showing posts from November, 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…