Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back in the Land of Milk and Honey

i got my home
in the promised land
i feel at home
can you overstand

Said the road is rocky
sure feels good to me
and if i'm lucky
together we'd always be

i will ride it

Rainbow Country - Bob Marley

So my third year has officially begun. Funny enough, this was the first year I actually made the entire welcome circle. All week, I've been thinking about how much I've grown as a poet and as a person since 2004, when I first set foot on the Greensburg campus. I actually drafted this blog on the long bus ride from DC (another first, and probably the reason I was actually on time), but I said a lot of it in the welcome circle.

I guess the most important things are why I love coming here, what I hope to accomplish, and ... I don't want this blog to turn into a lot of introspective blah blah blah, though. Tonight, I sat in a room full of the most incredible people God ever allowed to walk the earth. I mean that. So many thoughtful, powerful, creative, beautiful black people. Tonight's circle reminded me that we all have a voice. Not just those of us who claim the title of poet, but all of us. All of us have something to say.

Even George Bush? I thought of Sonia Sanchez as I typed that. I picked him because he is an extreme case. I remember Sister Sanchez saying that we rob ourselves of our own humanity when we deny the humanity of our "enemies." It is easy, in a sense, to champion the weak, the small, the ordinary... the people who are downtrodden and denied the right to speak. I mean, it's not easy to champion them in a world that celebrates power, glory, might, and wealth. But it is easier to root for the underdog than to say that those who stand as exploiters also have a voice.

I totally wasn't expecting to go here tonight. I figured I would write about how beautiful and awesome Cave Canem is. I think this is precisely the beauty of Cave Canem. The alchemy of bringing all these different vibrations, these different experiences and perceptions and catalogs of words and images together. Cave Canem is an energy field like nothing else I have ever experienced. We are magnetizing each other by our presence, by our discussions. This is fertile ground. Isn't that how poetry happens? If we are brave, one predictable train of thought makes a sharp right turn, and suddenly we are in the wilderness, using all of our craft tools to mold a way out or at the very least, an explanation (or exploration?) of the landscape.

This week is a time when we can risk wondering whether George Bush has a voice that needs to be honored just as much as Cynthia McKinney's, even if we despise nearly everything that he has to say. Does Nelly have the right to express his voice, even if it means bastardizing a little girl's hand clap to detail the set-up of a drive-by shooting? Does the virus have as much a right to exist as the antibody?

Cave Canem is a place for exploring language, and for exploring ideas about life through language. And the risks we learn to take here follow us home. I know that they will follow me far beyond the three years of fellowship. I don't want to think about the end of this week because I might miss something by jumping out of the moment (thanks for the reminder, Remica). I can accept it though because it's (almost) time for me to relinquish my position and allow another poet to contribute and receive from this body, this organism that is Cave Canem. And it's time for me to graduate, and take my work to the next level. That's what Cave Canem is to me... an incubator (thanks CM).

Now. I have a poem to write. 10 am comes mighty fast, and I want to have a little time at least to enjoy the fellowship of my fellow poets. So I will leave whoever you are, dear reader, to think about what language means to you, who has a right to speak, and what responsibilities they bear for the speech they choose to utter. Feel free to chime in at will. Till next time...



Randall Horton said...

Hey Deidra, thanks for the opening remarks. i shall chime in daily to relive the experience through you...

Toni Wynn said...

D, I always have to smile when I think of how I was supposed to "mentor" you your 1st year at CC. Like you hadn't come to play, wisdom and spirit spinning. Wonderful to read your words here so we can share the communion. Love love love to all. --Toni Wynn

Cave Canem Poets said...

hey randall and toni. i miss y'all! thanks for checkin in :) toni, you rocked as a mentor. i was glad to have you!