#OscarsSoWhite #Pulitzer Looking for Colour by Elizabeth Alexander

timthumb.php.pngPhotographer unknown.

11373118-essayAP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas (gold medal).

Today’s news
by Elizabeth Alexander

Composer of Barack Hussein Obama’s inauguration poem!
Professor of Poetry at Yale. Feminist!
Shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize!

Heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson
broke his fist in the street brawl in Harlem
At three AM outside an all-night clothing store
where he was buying 800-dollar, white
leather coat. The other dude, on TV, said,
“It was a sucker punch.” Muhammad Ali said
Tyson ain’t pretty enough to be a heavyweight
champion of the world. Years ago a new Ali
threw his Olympic gold into the Ohio
River, said he’d get it when black people were truly
free in this country. In South Africa there is a dance
that says       we are fed up       we have no work    you have
struck a rock. I saw it on today’s news.

I didn’t want to write a poem that said “blackness
is,” because we know better than anyone
that we are not one or ten or ten thousand things
Not one poem      We could count ourselves forever
and never agree on the number. When the first
black Olympic gymnast was black and on TV I called
home to say it was colored on channel three
in nineteen eighty-eight. Most mornings these days
Ralph Edwards comes into the bedroom and says, “Elizabeth,
this is your life. Get up and look for color,
look for color everywhere.”


More to read at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/elizabeth-alexander

From: The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.

NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634

2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)


Anti-apartheid poet Antjie Krog. When Mandela was still behind bars.

Anti-apartheid poet Antjie Krog as high school student wrote a famous poem that caused great commotion at the time:

Loosely translated by myself.

Look, I will build me a land
Where skin doesn’t matter not at all…
Just your mind and mine
Where no goat face in the halls of parliament
can never not ever spook to keep things
where black and white, hand on hand
may bring peace and love
to my beautiful land.

Kyk, ek bou vir my ‘n land

Kyk, ek bou vir my ‘n land
Waar ‘n vel niks tel nie,
Net jou verstand.
Waar geen bokgesig in ’n parlement
kan spook om dinge permanent
verkramp te hou nie.
Waar ek jou kan liefhê
langs jou in die gras kan lê
sonder om in ’n kerk ‘ja’ te sê.
Waar ons snags met kitare sing
en vir mekaar wit jasmyne bring.
Waar ek jou nie gif hoef te voer
as ’n vreemde duif in my hare koer.
Waar geen skeihof
my kinders se oë sal verdof.
Waar swart en wit hand aan hand
vrede en liefde kan bring
in my mooi land.

Black Poet Bessie Head- Mandela’s South Africa

Black, mixed race poet Bessie Head, from South Africa and settled in Botswana.

“Where the Wind Don’t Blow”

My home is a swagger and a shrug
You know:
When you get a smack in the face
And the pain don’t hurt: You are the master…


Sindiwe Magona on Nelson Mandela

Black South African poet, Sindiwe Magona reads her poem The Taste of Change -about Mandela.

She worked as a help, got her secondary school diploma through correspondence, Columbia University later on, worked for the UN.

The Taste of Change 

Mandela in jail No milk in my body
Mother at work I hungry

De Klerk free Mandela No milk in my body
Father at work I sick 

Mandela meets De Klerk People clap and dance
Rain come through my roof I cold

Change on every lip Father Mother and Me 
and Thousands others We die