Showing posts from August, 2009
O Black and Unknown Bards, How Do We Love Thee?Let Us Count the Ways...
“I am writing by the pound...”Langston Hughes to Arna BontempsSeptember 27, 1952-- Afaa Michael Weaver
“I am writing by the pound,” Hughes wrote to his longtime friend Arna Bontemps. Hughes was in his 50th year of life, with fifteen more active years before his death, and I was not quite one year old. Now at 57, I sense a need to once again take a cue from the old master and be busier at my work. In that same letter Hughes told Bontemps he had shipped some twenty pounds of manuscripts, including all five drafts of his play Simply Heavenly, to Yale University, the repository for his papers.
It was the seriousness with which he took himself as a writer that has so inspired me in my life. It was a seriousness that George Houston Bass, my late mentor, worked to instill more solidly in me. Bass had been one of Hughes’ secretaries, and Hughes named him the executor of his literary estate. I was receiving transmissio…
Procter & Gamble's Baltimore Plant(now a day care center for Yuppies)
When Poets Grow in FactoriesAfaa Michael Weaver蔚雅風August 11, 2009
My first experience in a creative writing class was as a visitor. Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Missing Jew, allowed me to sit in on his class. It was 1980, and he introduced me to a number of poets, including Frank O’Hara. I complained to Rodger that I felt alienated from poetry as a factory worker.
“Nonsense, Michael. Your poetry is all around you.”
I thought he was just being flippant. “I don’t know about that, Rodger. Trucks and machines don’t seem very poetic to me.”
But I took his advice and began writing about that world around me. An earlier manuscript became my first book, Water Song, with poems like “Currents” and “The Aftermath,” a poem which Gwen Brooks told me was a favorite of hers.
Immediacy was the lesson, and I learned it from Rodger Kamenetz. He was teaching the creative writing class at Baltimore Community College. O…