I love the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Path, Hayden Carruth. I adore poetry as written expression; to get across the depth of feeling in 6 lines of verse is an outstanding feat I could never be capable of. To make someone FEEL in a scant tumble of words is a gift of magic. As I grow and shift, my choice of reading ebbs and flows as well. I cannot stomach Shelley and Tennyson any longer, even though those were the poets I read breathlessly to my young cousin when I was 19 and 20. Today, I am captivated by Langston Hughes, his sparse, eloquent admonishments. The beat poet Ginsberg appeals to my defiance and natural tendencies to embrace controlled chaos. =) I read, then devour Gwendolyn Brooks and Nikki Giovanni… What a cliche I am; a chubby, white housewife with fist in the air ! I wonder that my generation memorized “Oh, Captain, My Captain”, yet I was 24 before I knew who Afeni Shakur was.

In our guarded, monochromatic, sleepy Northeast town, the Black Panthers, rappers and revolution were whispered about unbelievingly… then summarily dismissed. Guns, revolt, death, mayhem, shiftless, no-good, ruining My country !  I remember when I finally gained knowledge of the amazing good the Panthers did, my confused brain fought to bring just one opinion to the front of my mind, how this new information began to temper the horrible things that some of their party did. How many caucasians know of the free meal programs, child care centers and medical care this group brought to impoverished people, REGARDLESS of race ? Of the free sickle-cell screenings of thousands of people, and the assistance in obtaining low-cost medicines given to whole communities ? There is always more than one side to a story, and as I gain more education, insight and age, I have come to realize how foolish it is to paint your world in black and white. There are thousands of shades of grey alone, not counting all other colors ! =)

I am often told “I can’t read that”, “Ooh, too sad”, and the like. I challenge myself, and as my mind stretches, I begin to see viewpoints that I never knew could exist. Today, I challenge YOU to get out of your comfort zone, pick up a book, talk to someone drastically different from yourself, and listen. Read, look, observe. Choke down those all-important opinions of yours, stick your toes in the cold water. As your mother used to say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. =)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mem
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:29:50

    not introduced to langston hughes until my mid-forties. to this day, i will say he is my favorite. many others are simply wonderful – and do speak to me – but he speaks to my soul unlike any other


  2. tishmoon
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 13:45:16

    How sad it would be were learning only for the young … how much they miss ! =)
    I feel grateful to have my faculties as well as a mind equipped for growth, feeling stagnant would be the death of me ! =)


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