Do you ever encounter something that runs your blood cold not because of fear…but beauty?
Tonight, despite my resolve to take a breather after a long day at work, I listened to this PoemTalk regarding poems by Gwendolyn Brooks and Etheridge Knight. I did it with pleasure, however, for this is a discussion I’d stumbled upon over a year ago whilst walking the dog one afternoon. I became so riveted by the subject matter, so impassioned by what I felt the poems were trying to say, that I listened twice, I circled the miles.
This week, ModPo briefly explored this PoemTalk regarding G. Brooks and E. Knight. It’s the end of the week so there isn’t much activity anymore regarding this thread, but I did share these thoughts on one of the boards.**
I heard this PennSound recording over a year ago, and listened to it two times, in part for the dialogue between Brooks and Knight. I knew nothing of either, but the power of each of their poems stuck with me. When I saw we would listen to the PoemTalk again, I didn’t even need to listen (but I did just now) for I could still hear both of their voices reading…as you stated, it makes one realize that their is more to a poem than staying on the page.
Certainly, I’ve not any special insight into if G. Brooks really did mean the sunshine as truth. I oft wondered if it was an rather metaphoric way of describing a biblical illumination. The small ‘t’ always causes me to pause…why lower case. Is it ‘truth’ because she doesn’t quite believe in the power of this sun. Does she recognize why there is a certain comfort in darkness than in light. (I shall not go on..since this is pure speculation and probably not apt, however, it helps to explain my thoughts on Knight’s response.)
Knight, as you’ve already posted, produced a response that addressed the socio-political. I’d agree that he is not calling out G. Brooks as much as he is calling out Everyone. His words illuminate Malcolm as the truth to the dark nights, yet, where was the people’s’ faith in following this rising son. I felt like he was saying, gently, to Brooks, what we needed to pull us from the darkness is not your sun, but this son — but we goofed. I agree with what you wrote regarding “the darkness…” Knight recognized that this brutal murder sealed a certain fate…who would rise up now and save them from this oppressive darkness.
Knight’s last line is one I cannot shake. It probably has weighted my thoughts the most, especially regarding a Malcolm as Truth versus Christ as truth. “Though ain’t no vision visit my cell.” I read this as mocking, as if to say, no, it wasn’t any metaphysical illumination telling him This truth– he didn’t need one, a vision, for he had seen flesh and blood, he had heard the hammering of Malcolm.
Certain points of the above post address a fellow students rather wonderful thoughts regarding Knight’s poem. I concur with much of her post regarding Knight’s observation of Malcolm X’s murder. There was not much more that I could add other than my sidebar insight in regards to why I felt that Knight was addressing G. Brook’s ‘sun’. Do I believe that he felt she literally meant the sun as truth– no. In my mind, Knight recognized a symbolic read of Brooks grappling with her thoughts on faith. I’ll be so bold as to say that he called her out for trying to find solace in a ‘sun’ that was supposed to illuminate, but there was more comfort in the dark nights. Knight would say that those dark nights shall only be darker after ‘truth'(Malcolm) was murdered. Malcolm was their salvation, but there was not enough faith by the masses to protect their son. He hammered the truth, but no one truly listened. The darkness… how it hangs heavily.
the soul rests while the shadows still call him
**If you’re intrigued at all, do visit the link. If you’ve no time, just listen to Knight read his poem and Brooks reading the intro. If you’ve ever wondered why is poetry important… just listen, really ~