More Than Skin-Deep: The Candaces, Autumn in New York, A Jury of Her Peers, Ebb Tide/Autumn Rain, Candace/1, Candace 2/A Profile.
More Than Skin-Deep: The Candaces (for Venus & Serena and the Sistas) Beauty is sensitive, poetic, symbolic, metaphorical, necessary to any culture. In the symbolic Landscape of American Media, a pale goddess appears: tossing ash-blond hair, she pleads, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful," with apparent innocence. And millions of dark women are "wiped out," scarred for life; for on American altars, blond is Goddess, Metaphor, Symbol, Archetype. Dark women so "Unfair" in a World of Anglo-Germanic standards. Millions scarred for life, labeled pariahs; Black in all Its implications, in a World where pale blonds plead, with apparent innocence, that we not "hate" them for being "beautiful." In T.V.-dominated America, millions of Africans: tall, willowy ebony women, curvaceous, full-bodied brown or sepia women--African Venuses--despised by a racist aesthetic. However, Venus & Serena Williams, Nubian queens of World Tennis, are not blonds, are not celebrated as beauties by America; are Black in all its implications: voluptuous, full-bodied, broad-nosed, full-lipped, wooly-haired, sexy Nubians, primordial and sublime. Candaces ruling the Court, leaping like regal panthers; slamming, serving, demolishing demoralized "Barbies"; flashy white beads clicking against Cornrows, as blond rivals are crushed. Venus & Serena are Black and uncompromising in all its implications; are not Tiya and Temira: they are Reality, not sanitized T.V. images; and millions of little girls, Black, in all Its implications--not "beautiful" as visualized by America and Its blondes & wannabes--feel lovely, graceful, precious, empowered, inspired by the Courtly deeds of these Nubian goddesses! And I, wiping suddenly welling eyes, am delighted as Black Isis rises from Her glorious Egyptian shrine, smiles and winks a beautiful, cosmic Eye at Her lovely daughters--unbound in a vicious, malicious land of corrupt Nazis--kicking ass! Autumn in New York (for Gloretta Baynes) Music fills the elegant room of a sophisticated art gallery where a hip jazz quartet plays an old tune, "Autumn in New York." A man and woman sit listening together, as the saxophonist journeys down decades. The bronze, bearded man is, again, a young art student hypnotized by a 'Sixties-youthful Coltrane blowing lyrical combinations described by critics as "sheets of sound.' The chic, sepia woman is soaring in a rain-bow world of vivid color,. as she dances with her Muse across decades, generations, seeking an illusive Africa in rhythmic, percussive harmonies embracing night... They are artists, initiates, come to worship at Music's primeval shrine. They are wounded by brutalities known as American Urban Life. They are battle-scarred survivors, veterans in a campaign to transform society, and make worthy human beings emerge. They are visionaries known as artists... The Music, the Music, the Muse of this complex lyricism nourishes their very depths..."Autumn in New York," moans the saxophone, as it recreates a lost decade, resurrects both youth and innocence, in a mythic time when vision and possibility were one. A Jury of Her Peers (for Karima) Ideally, she'd be gentle, sensitive, romantic, with the generous tenderness of the truly strong. A loving person; a creative, energetic woman with large, glowing eyes. A sensual, athletic beauty, of sepia complexion, with graying, braided hair. Probably an administrator who also teaches, and loves kids dearly. A person of vision, of pioneering daring, but graceful, sophisticated, witty: hiding a delicate charm, whose startling beauty catches one by surprise. A tireless, optimistic believer--with subtle, psychic strengths. But lonely, because potential companions seem vaguely threatened by her honesty and gentle strength; so she waits. Alone, in this alienating land of Silences. Wondering, if she'll ever love again. Wondering why excellence isolates. Ebb Tide/Autumn Rain (for Trinette) Red blush/autumn gold: again I hold your lovely summer-form & smile; I sing warm bass tones: chocolate/honey your sweetness melting icebergs floating in my seas. Bare grey shadows of trees gaunt against my winter-heart forever Spring glows (where You are flower-laden dreams soar among solos: Pharoah's holy in green lands/trees Black crowds gathered--glowing rapture; mist rising from dark lakes bountiful at dawn. You haunt me when red suns singe bloody landscapes weeping autumn rain.
She was blue(s), a deep indigo; her vital spirit vibrated an enchantment of cool silver, like a nightclub scenario: the bloods blowing strong in every mellow key, reaching harmony on Duke's Satin Doll. And the tonal/emotional nuances vibrated through one's intimate universe. All of this embodied in her Solo: her Life Song, among dreams & vibes of subtle karma. She was cool vibes by Milt, Ramsey's immaculate arpeggios echoing a vital sensuality of melanin realms "when dawns were young. " She was woman and myth--primal, elegant, splendid--reborn in puritan climes, among pioneers and corporate satraps, millenniums from Napata; subtle regal cool.
Note. The Candaces were the ruling queens of Kush (Nubia), who challenged Rome for the liberation of Kmt (Egypt). Napata was their capitol. They mounted elephants, which they used like tanks, hundreds of years before Hannibal!
Candace 2/ A Profile She was Sheba; dred-locked, prognathous, pristine, lovely, this unique, spring morning, filling these moments with sunlight. Primal rhythms sang from swaying hips, counter-pointing her sacredness: dusky sibyl implying Amharic grandeur, unsung for millennia upon our human tongues. But time was upon us that instance, and she its awakening agent: prima dona nilotic, blessed with brilliant smiles against erotic bronze.
poetry by Askia M. Toure
Professor and poet Askia M. Toure was born on October 13, 1938, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Clifford Roland Snellings, Jr. and Nannie Lynette Bullock. In 1952, Toure won a Motion Poetry Association Award while attending Roosevelt High School. Two years later, he participated in a successful sit-in at Roosevelt. Toure graduated from high school in 1956, and joined the United States Air Force. After being discharged in 1959, Toure took art classes at the Dayton Art Institute. He then moved to New York City and joined the Art Student League and the Umbra Poets. He and his associates Tom Feelings, Tom Dent, David Henderson, and Calvin Herndon were mentored by Langston Hughes. In 1961, Toure joined Max Roach, Abby Lincoln, Alex Prempe, May Mallory, and Maya Angelou at the United Nations to protest the assassination of Congo's Patrice Lumumba in 1961. In 1962, Toure became an illustrator for Umbra magazine, a staff member with The Liberator magazine, and a contributor to Freedomways. Toure was a part of the Atlanta staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and joined the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) in Mississippi in the spring of 1964. In 1965, Toure founded Afro World and organized the Harlem Uptown Youth Conference. Toure also participated in the rise of the Black Panther Party and co-wrote SNCC's 1966 "Black Power Position Paper."