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  #1  
Unread 01-12-2022, 04:32 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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(Idle thinking while the ship is sinking....)

While Rome burns... Maya Angelou has been monetized on the US quarter.

One of my favorite quotes of hers is this one: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Poets seem to be enjoying something of a renaissance; albeit poetry itself seems to have cracked open to be something new... Face it — what isn't cracking open? Will the metamorphosis be complete before Rome burns? Or are we hedging our bets and following Musk to the stars? Frontiers are back, baby!

Nothing to discuss. Carry on.

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  #2  
Unread 01-12-2022, 07:37 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Actually, there's quite a lot to discuss, I think.

It's interesting which poets are being celebrated. Amanda Gorman and Maya Angelou, for instance, are two black women. It's interesting which black poets the white establishment has summoned up. These poets write easily understandable, optimistic poems. Poems are empowering to black people, but never say anything too distasteful about the white establishment. Poems that are not too well-crafted, or too complex to seem like an intellectual threat to a white person. The Hill we Climb is a piece in service to Neliberal Bidenism that only brings the country back to "normality", and I don't think many black people like that "normality". Maya Angelou's poems, badly metred, though inspirational and quite pleasant, say things white people can swallow: racism is bad, slavery is a terrible legacy, but do they speak to the experience of black people in America today, an experience the white establishment might not quite like? No, not really.
Why are we putting token, famous black poets on the dolar? Where are the Jay Wrights, or the Ishion Hutchinsons, who have taken poetry and made it theirs, complex and visionary.
No, until poets like them are at our forefront, then this isn't abreaking open. It's white people trying to make themselves feel good.

Last edited by W T Clark; 01-12-2022 at 10:35 AM.
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Unread 01-12-2022, 09:33 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Cameron, in this particular case, black people don't seem to mind white people feeling good about Angelou's appearance on the quarter. In fact, they seem to be deluded into thinking it's a good thing. I haven't heard a single black leader or opinion columnist say what you've just said, nor have I seen an outcry on social media. Your suggestion that they should have chosen a couple of men (who, by the way, are still living and thus not traditionally eligible) instead of this particular woman ignores the desirability of adding to the scant handful of women on US currency in the past 200+ years, as well as the tradition in the US that you need to be dead to have your face become legal tender.

To suggest that it is tokenism to honor Angelou, a wildly popular and admired public figure for many years, regardless of what you think about her poety, is the kind of thing that gives wokeness a bad name. This is not a poetry prize, but a commemorations and recognition of a public figure who is loved and respected by millions, not just for her poetry but for her voice and her presence in American culture as a force for good and diversity. I myself am not a huge fan of her writing, but that's not the sole criterion I would go by in this context. Getting honored on a coin is not a poetry contest but something much larger, something which carries tons of symbolism as well. Just like Trump was acting symbolically when he vetoed the plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill (something Biden will probably revive before too long), the decision to put Angelou on a commemorative coin (or not to do so) is fraught with symbolism.
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Unread 01-12-2022, 10:47 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Roger,
I take all your points. Granted this is wider than poetry. But I honestly feel quite exhausted by which poets we routinely celebrate when we comment that poetry is having a revival or whatever.
I'll amend my suggestions: Lucille Cliffton would have made a much greater choice.
I still think Angelou is honestly a pour choice. Not even Morrison?
Of black commentators: I'm sure they wouldn't ... at least not in all the big neoliberal journals.

Over here in England we have an antiquated figure of utterly useless royal power on our coins. Angelou is a step up.
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Unread 01-12-2022, 12:07 PM
Jesse Anger Jesse Anger is offline
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Although there are some great poc page poets, most of the real talent went into a different form - the great black poets of recent history are mcs. Would raekwon's profile on a quarter make me happy, though? I gotta say no, frankly. This fall of Rome morif is misplaced, I think. There's a transformational opportunity here, via exponential social tech, for a far better system to arrise and address in higher resolution the collective coordination issues we are facing. Black white queer gay trans hood junkie scientist identities aside, I accept you and care about you as a person and i'd be willingly to address the issues by running the dialectic until we are 95% aligned rather than this 50/50 war of outmoded and frankly dumb adversarial world views. In other words participatory government via social tech will make the nation state obsolete, it already has in a lot of ways. Sans autocratic pressure how do we incentivize collected sense making so that order is emergent rather than forced. The old political conversations are boring now, frens.....
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Unread 01-12-2022, 12:42 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I'm not sure it matters, but it may be worth pointing out that hardly anyone uses coins these days. My only use for quarters is to buy food from a vending machine at the zoo to feed the ducks and goats. There's a sign at the register of the supermarket I shop in that says there is a nationwide coin shortage and asks customers paying cash to come up with exact change if possible.

Also, it's my understanding that Maya Angelou's image will be on the back side of the coin, with George Washington still on the front (though a version created by a woman many years ago), so it's not exactly the same thing as being the featured person honored.

US stamps have already commemorated Gwendolyn Brooks and Robert Hayden, as well as white poets such as Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath, Joseph Brodsky, Elizabeth Bishop, and William Carlos Williams.
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Unread 01-12-2022, 01:00 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Well, I always liked the stamp.
As a hip-hop lover I must disagree. IF I were to compare black rappers to poets, Raekwon and Lamar to Hutchinson or Hayden or Walcott, the poets will always come out on top. Rap just doesn't encourage the same type of ambiguity that poetry does. Aesop Rock is the exception that proves the rule. And his race makes him a rather ironic exception.
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Unread 01-12-2022, 01:43 PM
Jesse Anger Jesse Anger is offline
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Cam,

I agree for the most part but the top pens in rap history are as strong as any page poet. Rae, Ghost, Yoni Wolf, even Roc Marci, Andre 3000, deltron...all have tons of work that crushes on the page: sprung rhythm, recombinant rhymes, triple meanings, lazer focus imagery. I've been writing a book that maps certain schools of rappers that employ what we would consider academic poetic conventions... Lamar is no where near that conversation. It tends to be the new york fly talk image based rappers, and the alternative more underground dudes that are the most advanced poetically. Also the whole race in hop hop thing is overplayed, hip hop is a meritocracy of skill regardless of race, ya!? Always love showing style wars to frothing at the mouth marxist types who claim hip hop is solely a response to white supremacy, sigh -

A mural in the hood trumps a coin imo

Peep this hook from Yoni:

There was a moth in the soapdish
laminated in lye -
Will you still remember me well
if I don't make it to two-oh-oh-five,
my deadline gemini...
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  #9  
Unread 01-12-2022, 02:06 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Jesse,
Tell me when that book comes out..I would really wish to read it.
I certainly don't think that rap is just a reaction to white supremacy.

And yes, we are again in agreement about the new york rappers.

I agree on sprung rhythm, word, rhyme, and metaphor. But I don't quite believe that they can best page poets. I think we are mostly on the same page though...Second the mural.

I've been thinking recently about the sixteen-bars of a rap verse, especially as how it relates to the sonnet.
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  #10  
Unread 01-12-2022, 02:11 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I think Maya Angelou was a good choice because this is not a poetry prize in which we can or should insist that only the best poets be allowed to appear on our coins, but it is a tribute to the simple fact that she was widely admired for what she stood for and had become an iconic figure admired for her dignity, eloquence, and moral leadership. Yes, at the heart of all that was her writing, which allowed her to build that reputation (though actually she was best known for a prose memoir). It's a case where we can admire both the person and the writing, and there are certainly many millions of people in the US who have been made to feel good over the decision to pay her this honor in a way they would not have felt if some lesser-known poet had been chosen, even if some might videw that lesser-known as the better poet.

Last edited by Roger Slater; 01-12-2022 at 02:13 PM.
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