Kaiso – Calypso – Soca: Pepper It T&T-Style !

McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis, better known as Calypso Rose_The greatest of the female Calypsonians, and still going strong in her 70s...

McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis, better known as Calypso Rose_The greatest of the female Calypsonians, and still going strong in her 70s…

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Through great extemporaneous performers, singers, composers and arrangers, Calypso music has been evolving for more than a century. The Roaring Lion, Lord Invader, Lord Pretender, Lord Kitchener, Calypso Rose, Lord/Ras Shorty, David Rudder – the list could go on and on; so many have been innovators or have deepened the tradition.  Political, social and sexual commentary, as well as a healthy joie-de-vivre for fête-ing, have all characterized Calypso.  The music has branched out into Chutney Soca via Indian pioneers such as Drupatee Ramgoonai;  has voyaged through temporary influences from Ragga and Dancehall;  has even fallen prey to the ghastly Auto-Tune audio processor so rampant in popular music.  Still, Calypso at its best – and it still can be at its best – can’t be beat. (Except maybe by Pan !)

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Julian Whiterose’s “Iron Duke in the Land” – the first-ever Kaiso (Calypso) recording, from 1912:

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Lord Executor’s “I don’t know how de young men livin’” (1937):

http://youtu.be/cD7N5qsPnuQ

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Lord Executor

I don’t know how de young men livin’” (1937)

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I don’t know how de young men livin’, dey never have a shillin’,

I don’t know how de young men livin’, dey never have a shillin’ –

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

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In de day he walk ’bout, only comin’ with his sweet mouth.

Calling for his minou, callin’ pound-plantain and callaloo – Ah,

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

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In de night he come an’ peep, only longing for a place to sleep,

And to cast his weary head as a lump of lead on de cosy bed – Ah,

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

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You can see dat villain next day, half crazy and toutoulbey.

His watchikong, goodness knows, and half of his feet expose – Ah,

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

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Who can measure de human mind when it is uncultured and unrefined?

An impulse of society – and not to be mentioned in history!

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go!

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Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks a.k.a. Wilmoth Houdini (1895-1977)_1939 Calypsos recorded in NYC by the Trinidadian native

Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks a.k.a. Wilmoth Houdini (1895-1977)_1939 Calypsos recorded in NYC by the Trinidadian native

Duke of Iron_1940s

Duke of Iron_1940s

A recording of a 1946 Calypso concert in NYC featuring Lord Invader, Duke of Iron, and MacBeth the Great

A recording of a 1946 Calypso concert in NYC featuring Lord Invader, Duke of Iron, and MacBeth the Great

Lord Invader_1940s

Lord Invader_1940s

Lord Kitchener in 1951

Lord Kitchener in 1951

1962: Lord Kitchener, Lord Superior and Lord Melody_Kitch, Supie and Mel were in Georgetown, Guyana for a calypso show.

1962: Lord Kitchener, Lord Superior and Lord Melody_Kitch, Supie and Mel were in Georgetown, Guyana for a calypso show.

The Mighty Sparrow_early 1960s

The Mighty Sparrow_early 1960s

Your calypso name is given to you by your peers, based on your style. In the old days they tried to emulate British royalty. There was Lord Kitchener, Lord Nelson, Duke. When I started singing, the bands were still using acoustic instruments and the singers would stand flat footed, making a point or accusing someone in the crowd with the pointing of a finger, but mostly they stood motionless. When I sing, I get excited and move around, much like James Brown – and that was new to them. The older singers said “Why don’t you just sing instead of hopping around like a little Sparrow.” It was said as a joke, but the name stuck.” (The Mighty Sparrow, interviewed)

The Mighty Sparrow_Congo Man album from 1965_The calypso single Congo Man itself has been banned in the past for radio play but it demonstrates devilish wit and honesty along with the controversy.  A song of its time, though politically incorrect in the 21st century !

The Mighty Sparrow_Congo Man album from 1965_The calypso single Congo Man itself has been banned in the past for radio play but it demonstrates devilish wit and honesty along with the controversy. A song of its time, though politically incorrect in the 21st century !

The Mighty Sparrow’s “Jean and Dinah” (Yankees Gone) (1956):

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Calypso Rose’s “Palet” (Popsicle) from the 1970s:

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Lord Shorty’s “Endless Vibrations”(1974):

http://youtu.be/FPnsxU3vNRk

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Lord Shorty (later Ras Shorty) with Robin Ramjitsingh and Bisram Moonilal_early 1970s

Lord Shorty (later Ras Shorty) with Robin Ramjitsingh and Bisram Moonilal_early 1970s

Lord Shorty_1974 calypso album

Lord Kitchener record album cover_Hot Pants, from 1972

Lord Kitchener record album cover_Hot Pants, from 1972

Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste, born 1941, San Fernando, Trinidad)

Caribbean Unity” (1979)

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You try with a federation
De whole ting get in confusion
Caricom and then Carifta
But some how ah smellin disaster
Mister West Indian politician
I mean yuh went to big institution
And how come you cyah unite 7 million?
When ah West Indian unity I know is very easy
If you only rap to yuh people and tell dem like me – dem is:
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One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean
man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man…
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You say dat de federation
Was imported quite from England
And you goin and form ah Carifta
With ah true West Indian flavour
But when Carifta started runnin
Morning, noon and night all ah hearin
Is just money-speech dem prime minister givin
Well I say no set ah money could form ah unity
First of all your people need their identity, like:

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One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man…

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Caricom is wastin time
De whole Caribbean gone blind
If we doh know from where we comin
Then we cyah plan where we goin
Dats why some want to be communist
But then some want to be socialist
And one set ah religion to add to de foolishness!
Look, ah man who doh know his history
He have brought no unity
How could ah man who doh know his roots form his own ideology? – like:
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One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children.
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man…

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De Federation done dead and Carifta goin tuh bed

But de cult of de Rastafarian spreadin through de Caribbean

It have Rastas now in Grenada, it have Rastas now in St. Lucia,

But tuh run Carifta, yes you gettin pressure

If the Rastafari movement spreadin and Carifta dyin slow

Then there’s somethin that Rasta done that dem politician doh know – that we:

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One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man!

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Caricom:

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is an organization of more than a dozen nations and dependencies, established during the 1970s. Its main purposes have been to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy.

Carifta:

The Caribbean Free Trade Association was formed in the 1960s among English-speaking Caribbean nations to make economic links more streamlined. Diversifying and liberalizing trade plus ensuring fair competition have all been CARIFTA goals.

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Black Stalin’s “Caribbean Unity” (1979):

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Artist Seon Thompson's tribute poster to Black Stalin

Artist Seon Thompson’s tribute poster to Black Stalin

Edwin Ayoung, better known as Crazy_1980s

Edwin Ayoung, better known as Crazy_1980s

Crazy’s “Young Man”(1980):

http://youtu.be/ilr_2UWxUKs

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Explainer’s “Lorraine”(1981):

http://youtu.be/aijYM34KZc4

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The Mighty Gabby (an honorary Trini!): “Boots”(1983):

http://youtu.be/DZlExF7fP5c

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Lord Nelson’s “Meh Lover” (1983):

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The Mighty Shadow’s “Jitters” (1985):

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David Rudder

David Rudder

David Rudder and Charlie’s Roots:  “The Hammer”(1986):

http://youtu.be/hhvnuuQ2cmQ

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“Many People – One Carnival”: J’Ouvert Morning…An’ de lime go be good !

Trinidad Carnival 2014_ATrinidad Carnival 2014_Preparations ATrinidad Carnival 2014_Torso and headdress for The Queen of GoldTrinidad Carnival 2014_Makeup applicationTrinidad Carnival 2014_Working on Roland St.Georges enormous skirt for Ravenfyre

Preparations to “play Mas’” in Port of Spain…

(“J’Ouvert” or Opening Day of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2014 is Monday, March 3rd.)

A Special Thank-You to Andre Bagoo for providing these photographs!

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Abertura do Carnaval Brasileiro 2014: “Mangueira é Mãe” (Favela is a Mother’s Heart)

February 2013_a Mangueira bateria at Rio Carnaval

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Today is the opening day of Carnaval 2014 throughout Brazil.  The song below speaks of the Mangueira (Mango Tree) district of Rio de Janeiro, a favela (poor neighbourhood or shantytown) where Samba music began to evolve during the 1920s, and which has its own Samba School, G.R.E.S. Estação Primeira de Mangueira, that has sent participants to Carnaval competitions for decades.

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Favela is a mother’s heart”

(as sung by Alcione, with Marcelo Falcão and Serginho Meriti: 2008)

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Anywhere I go I ask God to bless me, and come with me,
to where my life sends me – that’s where I’ll be.
I’m here at the bottom of the hill,
facing the favela, standing still.
Having a snack
Next to the bend
Where the road ends.
Under the bridge, where the crowd meets,
They’re chilling out
Dancing all night at the ball;
Come morning sun
everyone’s gone
smiling ear to ear.

If you know what’s good,

do you know what’s good? Favela – Mangueira!

Favela is a mother’s heart,

Mangueira is a mother’s heart,

Favela is a mother’s heart…
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So we’re there at the burger van
Praying to the Samba Palace, the shrine of swing,
the place that crowns those samba kings,
making us tremble – as only drums can.

Down here we see the hill, a family (and what a family!)
and come February it’s Carnival in the city.

Green and Pink are the colours of the team
And when the sound comes down
It shakes the dust – moves the crowd.

The come-and-go never stops
Good / bad people, always busy,
The gossip never ending.
No wonder, I’m talking about Mangueira!
and the people that live near the freeway, Avenida Visconde de Niterói.
So many dead ends and lanes
This hill is ours!
But poverty hurts…

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I could be here
or else downtown

in Chalé, Candelária, Olaria, Fundação –

or in any place where samba sounds.
You can have funk, swing, pagode;
In Mangueira everything is found,

– but you need to be in the know!
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Green and Pink, the colours of our team
And when that sound comes down
It shakes the dust – moves the crowd.
Favela – Mangueira – is a mother’s heart, A Mother’s Heart! 

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Translation from Portuguese into English:  Daniel Vianna

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Mangueira é Mãe”

(cantado por Alcione, Marcelo Falcão, Serginho Meriti: 2008)

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Só peço a Deus que me acompanhe, me abençoe onde quer que eu vá
Eu tô na vida, eu tô no mundo, eu tô aonde o destino mandar
Tô aqui no pé da ladeira
De frente pro morro da mangueira
No trailer da mina
Tô quase na esquina
Do buraco quente
Embaixo do viaduto, e como tem gente
Gente que fica de zoeira
No samba, no baile a noite inteira
Que sai de manhã
com sorriso lindo, largo que não tem tamanho
Pra quem tem juízo. Mangueira é uma mãe…

Mangueira é uma mãe…..

E aqui estamos juntos no trailer da mina
Reverenciando o Palácio do Samba
Pensar que daqui saíram tantos bambas
Que a gente até treme no pé da colina

Daqui debaixo vejo o morro, uma comunidade (e que comunidade!)
E quando chega fevereiro é carnaval na cidade

É verde e rosa as cores da primeira estação
E quando desce a ladeira
Sacode a poeira e anima o povão

O sobe-e-desce é constante
Gente do bem e do mal, tá servidão
O comentário é geral
Também pudera, tô falando de Mangueira
De gente que vive à beira da avenida
Visconde de Niterói
é tanto beco, é tanta boca de siri nesse negócio
O morro é nosso!
Mas a pobreza é que dói
Tô no chalé
Na candelária
Na olaria, fundação, eu tô na área
Tem funk in lata, tem suingue, tem pagode
Na mangueira tem de tudo
Mas só para, só para quem pode!

É verde e rosa as cores da primeira estação

E quando desce a ladeira
Sacode a poeira e anima o povão

Mangueira é uma mãe…..

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To learn more about the history of Samba music click the following ZP link:

https://zocalopoets.com/category/favourites-favoritos/orfeu-negro-and-the-origins-of-samba-wilson-batistas-kerchief-around-my-neck-and-noel-rosas-idle-youth/

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“The Great Black North”: Ian Keteku, Andrea Thompson and Kevan Anthony Cameron

February 2014_Toronto_ Canada

“The Great Black North” Anthology in concert: February 26th, 2014, 6 pm – 7:30 pm, Riverdale Branch, Toronto Public Library

Ian Keteku“El Amor Mata”:

Spoken-Word poetry performance by Ian Keteku, Farafina Rojo and Balan Santos (guitar):

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Andrea Thompson_a pioneer of slam poetry in Canada“Firebelly” by Andrea Thompson:

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Kevan Anthony Cameron a.k.a. ScruffmouthKevan Anthony Cameron a.k.a. Scruffmouth

Black His Story” (February 2004)

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From under the griot tree the groundhog arose,
and this is how his story goes . . .
His story has always been pure as snow and clear as rain.
Clearly, his story was written, recorded, and remembered to be right
and white as he is.

His story is not finished,
the story tellers continue to diminish our exposure to the gory details

that are nonetheless real.

Shield yourselves from the sun,
wear sunscreen and all of that shit.

Shitstory is made up of pointy white hoods telling falsehoods

and passing them into law.

Shitstory is no more than picking a nigger to string up.
His story is bullshit
in the form of chronological sequence with the realness removed

to make him look good,
even though his face is still hidden by a pointy white hood.

Invisible like the Man who would remember soon enough when they

let him out of the machine.
Invisible like the hand of Big Brother reaching down to smother
the words that we wail
or the songs that we speak.

I was here, but I disappear.
I am everywhere.

I am an impossible existence made possible by the spirit of persistence.
I am an impossibility that was eradicated, annihilated, and still I rise

from a past that has been vapourized.

You heard we quit? No way, bullshit. I told you before

I come back with more hits,

I provide right flav…”

Our story is misconstrued.
Confused, Infused, and Abused by his story.
But my story’s a mystery when used in place of his story.

In this atrocious condition we concede to the cowardly volition

of historical tradition.
The imposition being that we were separated, lost, forgotten,

and freed somewhere along the way,
but since “freedom is slavery”
we are still subjugated today.

So when we rise up and see our dark shadows,
we know what is to be done
during the six weeks of optic white winter that hide us from the sun.

Continually they avert their eyes,
waiting from Spring to arrive.

But seasons are reversed
so they shiver from the frigid breath of the earth,
and hyporthermic evil cannot be nursed back to health.

Blackness may be cursed
but the sickness will swiftly target the wickedness of power and wealth
and those were last shall soon be the first.

The first of the month is a yesterday of birth
signified by the magnificent amethyst and a strong black fist.

Born from her story that his story denied
we respond to the question of prejudice with pride.

And all seasonal synchronicity aside,
how can our story be adequately displayed during

a month of merely 28 days?

Black History?

Black His Story is an oxymoron,
but it nuh easy fuh see

when truth is expensive and ignorance is free.

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Kevan Anthony Cameron / Scruffmouth writes: “This was the first poem I ever penned with the intention of performing at a Slam, way back in 2003/2004, in anticipation of the Black History Month Slam on February 2nd, 2004, which was a day after my birthday. I share my birthday with notable poets such as Langston Hughes, Saul Williams & Big Boi from OutKast, so I write with the intention of divine intervention.” (Quotation from Vancouver Poetry House website)

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Mustafa Ahmed: Spoken-Word Poet

Mustafa Ahmed_17 year old Spoken Word Poet from TorontoMustafa Ahmed (Spoken-Word Poet, born 1996, age 17, Toronto, Canada)

The Walrus, Feb. 19th 2014: Mustafa Ahmed interviewed by Julien Russell Brunet:

My dad was a social worker. He used to give, even though we didn’t have much. I knew I wanted to help people too, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. And then I found poetry and I found the arts. I was writing about change, about Regent Park, the beauties of my life. Sharing my poetry, I felt like people connected.

I started off at ten years old, just writing to communicate with my sister. I thought it was cool and I loved doing it, but I also felt like I had a voice. As I grew older, my poetry grew as well.

When I’m dialed in, I love every moment of it. I just need to get in my own space and write. There’s this desperation: all of what’s inside just screaming at me to share my words. The most important thing is developing whatever feeling I have. If, as an artist, I’m unable to make myself vulnerable and allow myself to feel, I won’t be able to write.

…There will be weeks when I don’t write at all. And then [something] will happen. You never know when it’s going to come, but the evidence is there. All over my phone and in my drawer, there are bits of text everywhere: drafts, scraps, pieces of paper. Sometimes my mind races faster than my hand.

I’m writing through the journey. But, if I can’t continue it, I’ll stop and I’ll give it time. When I force the poetry, it’s horrible, it’s never good.

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Mustafa Ahmed’s Spoken-Word video “Lost Souls” (released February 20th 2014):

http://www.mustafathepoet.com/news/2014/2/20/lost-souls-video

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Alain Mabanckou: “Letter to the Sun” / “Lettre au Soleil”

Francks François Décéus_On the beach_Sur la plage_2009

Francks François Décéus_On the beach_Sur la plage_2009

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Alain Mabanckou

(born February 24th, 1966, Pointe-Noire, Republic of The Congo / lives in Paris and Los Angeles)

Letter to the Sun”

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Sun:
Here’s my registered letter,
with an accusation of deception.

I summon you – right here, right now –
to honour a tribute to Light,

something you owe this clump of Earth

capering around you.

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Your revolutionary “revolving”,
the spheroid halo of your loophole-kisses,

these don’t impress me.
I’ll await you at the bend
between Dawn’s shyness

and Azure Sky’s confusion.
My rage will be at “high noon”,

tatooed by a fadeless rancour.

I’ll go – if need be – to “unearth” you in the dust of stars

and the vagabounding immensity of the Galaxy.

Then I will bear a grievance alongside the Eclipse

in order to mock you at your zenith

before a Humanity oh so reverential of your virtues…

.     .     .


Alain Mabanckou (né le 24 février, 1966, Pointe-Noire, République du Congo)
Lettre au Soleil”
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Soleil
Voici ma lettre recommandée
avec accusé de déception
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Je te somme ici et maintenant
d’honorer le tribut de lumière
que tu dois à la motte de Terre
qui cabriole autour de toi
.
Ta course révolutionnaire
et le halo sphéroîdal de tes embrasures
ne m’impressionnent plus
Je t’attendrai au tournant
entre la timidité de l’Aurore
et la confusion de l’Azur
Ma rage sera à son midi,
tatouée d’une rancoeur immarcescible
J’irai s’il le faut
te dénicher dans la poussière stellaire
et l’immensité vagabonde de la Galaxie
Je porterai alors plainte auprès de l’Eclipse
pour te ridiculiser en plein zénith
devant l’humanité qui révère tes vertus…

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© Alain Mabanckou, 1995

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To: Another Understanding or Guiding Light”

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In the shade of your sleep

rest the vestiges of illusions.

It seems that beyond the hilltops

indicates another point of view / horizon.

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I beg of the Sun not a single ray;

for I carry within me

the light of your awakening,

the marvel of your gaze

fixed upon Eternity.

.     .     .

À l’autre lumière”

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À l’ombre de ton sommeil
reposent les vestiges des songes
il paraît qu’au-delà des collines
pointe l’autre horizon.
.
je n’implore du soleil
aucun rai
je porte en moi
la lumière de ton éveil
l’éblouissement de ton regard
rivé vers l’éternité.

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.

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Translations from French into English: Alexander Best

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Willie Cole: Neo-African sculpture with American plenty

Willie Cole_Wind mask_assemblage with hairdryers_1991

Willie Cole_Wind mask_assemblage with hairdryers_1991

For the decade of the 1990s, Willie Cole (born 1955) was inspired principally by the archaic cast-iron steam iron. The Newark, New Jersey-born sculptor and conceptual artist created fauxanthropological research into The People of Iron a.k.a. The Cult of The Domestic. By the end of the decade he had chronicled their journey from slavery to freedom through sculpture, printmaking – and branding (with iron, that is). The elliptical association with the fact of American slavery cannot be missed by any viewer with historical intelligence. Cole’s shoe sculptures, and those with hair dryers, bicycle parts, kitchen chairs and so forth, are visually strong and metaphorically rich – and only an African-American sculptor could use materials in this way to create something fresh and “American” yet linked to the beauty of African “traditional” art.

Willie Cole_Zebra-town Mask_a sculpture in shoes

Willie Cole_Zebra-town Mask_a sculpture in shoes

Willie Cole_Steam Iron series

Willie Cole_Steam Iron series

Willie Cole_Stowage_2007

Willie Cole_Stowage_2007

Willie Cole_Pressed Iron Blossom number 3

Willie Cole_Pressed Iron Blossom number 3

Willie Cole_Kitchen tji wara_2004

Willie Cole_Kitchen tji wara_2004

Willie Cole_Kent tji wara_2007_sculpture made up of bicycle parts

Willie Cole_Kent tji wara_2007_sculpture made up of bicycle parts

Willie Cole_Black Worrier_sculpture constructed of women's shoes

Willie Cole_Black Worrier_sculpture constructed of women’s shoes

Willie Cole_Downtown Goddess_a sculpture in women's shoes

Willie Cole_Downtown Goddess_a sculpture in women’s shoes

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