news from kintespace.com::: Saturday, January 22, 2005
JOHN BENNETT sends me email. I am pretty sure that this John Bennett is the noted poet who would call his works shards—not prose poems or short stories as in Fire in the Hole—but just about any arrangement of words. Such is from the following email:
“Last night I read Ann Menebroker’s book of poems, Tiny Teeth, cover to cover. I don’t do that very often with a book. I think it is well worth a read, and so I am going to email a poem a day for the next week or so.”
“If you like what you read and want the full experience, you can order the book through Amazon.com but preferably from the publisher for twelve bucks at:”
R.L. Crow Publications
PO Box 262
Penn Valley, CA 95946
“For those of you tuned in to the Small Press, all the poems in the book appeared over the years in Marvin Malone’s Wormwood Review, a classic of the small-press literary world.”
Offer me the choice of being with a woman that is my helper and my equal, founding our communal vitality with grace and strategy or the choice of being an award-winning poet, a disconnected individual that is respected at a distance by some and feared and despised by many. I will take the woman. I have three children now. I have had three times to choose the woman and somehow failed.
Enter Rom Wills with his large-print book so that the page count can meet a perfect-bound press run. The first rule in his book sets me straight in 14pt font: No, Bryan. You don’t choose the women. The women choose you! I admit, since I do have quite an impressive university education and a successful technical career, that this book appeared to me more suited for my eldest son, the fourteen year old. However, don’t let the simple package fool you: this book is short and sweet and startlingly insightful for English-language readers of all ages.
THE MASCULINE OPINION HERE is that this bell hooks speech presented by Toronto Women’s Bookstore on May 15, 2004 at Bloor Street United Church, places bell hooks at the edge of the radical, leftist universe. This speech, titled “Love: Connecting Self and Community,” takes us up right up to the boundaries of what radical public individuals of color can do as an individual. Here we have a refinement of the yearning theme in her work: a call for a connection to community, where the systematic cultivation of a nurturing collective is equally important as achieving as an individual.
I deeply respect the honesty of bell hooks: she does not hide behind the deceptive illusions of her fame, academic standing or financial status. She is honest about a political assassination attempt by a former colleague clawing in a barrel. She is honest about the shadow side of the mythical “strong Black woman” by sharing intimate details about the psychological state of her mother. She is honest about the limits of unlimited individuality in an artificial commercial society, a “dominator culture.” It is this drive to be candid that provides information for our young people so that they have the choice to listen, learn and not repeat all of the negative moments of black history.
At bottom, she is honest about the need for a community of resistance. This resonates with me because we people who call ourselves African will only be an entertaining memory—only an intellectual and materialistic fantasy—without the revival of African matriarchy through a vital, restoration culture. My vision of sustainable community cannot begin without wise women, powered by a renewable energy source—and bell hooks courageously questions the vitality of materialistic individuality, tearing down toxic structures to make space for renewal. This 2004 speech should not stand alone. It should be side by side with the recent work of Professor Wangari Maathai and Vandana Shiva so that we can be reminded of not just what the problems are but have some idea of how to develop solutions.
Note: during this speech, bell hooks will reference Dorothy Roberts, author of the book Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. As of this writing, her Ms. Magazine interview is online.