Kwanzaa edition: Fall 2015 wrap-up and events

Kwanzaa_picThanks, everyone for a great semester and the enthusiasm and effort you brought to the class! As you may remember, our last guest speaker was Dr. Segun Shabaka who discussed Kawaida theory, Kwanzaa and its origins, and how the tradition has been kept alive in Brooklyn. As promised, here are a few resources and info on the event his organization puts on in Brooklyn and a few other selected ones. It’s important to note that all of these are deliberately family friendly, so younger siblings and relatives, your own children, or other children in your neighborhood/building will definitely be welcome and probably have a lot of fun.
 
First, there’s a good documentary film that covers most of the questions that I recommend called The Black Candle by Molefe K. Asante Jr., who’s an Associate Professor of English at Morgan State University. It’s up on YouTube (embedded below) and available on popular streaming online video services.
 

 
For more background, I’ll link the Official Kwanzaa website, which is basically a super-condensed version of Dr. Maulana Karenga’s book Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture. Karenga’s book is meant to be a how-to and explanatory guide to the celebration. It’s deliberately accessible and readable for a general audience. For a scholarly overview of Kwanzaa’s spread and evolution, look to Keith Mayes’s Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African American Holiday Tradition. Finally, Scot Brown’s Fighting for US is a comprehensive historical overview of the US organization, which popularized the celebration. For a quicker critical overview, a reminder that Floyd Hayes and Judson Jeffries’s essay “US Does Not Stand for United Slaves!”, a 14-page PDF is on the Readings page.
 
Kwanzaa Events
This is far from a comprehensive list, but here are a few select ones that are worth going to, generally community based, and should be fun and informational.
 
There are several competing events on Sunday, December 27, but here are two to pay attention to. First, is the one at the Dr. John Henrik Clarke House in Harlem. Details at their Facebook event page and see the announcement below:
BEPAA KWANZAA
 
The event mentioned in class by Dr. Shabaka is in also on Sunday the 27th in Brooklyn at JHS 258 from 2-6 PM (program starts at 3) and has Dr. Maulana Karenga as keynote speaker (via Skype this year, I’m told) along with the Universal African Drum and Dance Ensemble, a jazz performance by Donald Smith, and other cultural happenings. Details are at their Facebook event page. (There are several other area events that pop up for me under “related events” on their page.)
 
Finally, on Thursday December 31st (yes, New Year’s Eve) from 4-10 PM, there’s a celebration at the historic National Black Theater in Harlem, honoring two important scholars–Dr. Ben and Dr. John Henrik Clarke–whose birthdays were December 31 and January 1, respectively. It’s from 4-10 PM and there’s an entrance fee (it’s partially a fundraiser), but I’ve been assured that students will be allowed to pay what they can. Details are at the event’s Facebook page and if you email me ahead of time, I’ll make sure they put you on their list for entry.

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Week of 11/30: Spook Who Sat By the Door and Emory Douglas’ Visual Art

On Monday 11/30, we finish discussion on The Spook Who Sat By the Door and drafts of the final paper are due. No additional reading assignment, but catch up with the work you’ve missed and bring notes/ draft biblio of your paper with you to class: we’ll do a skill-share session if we have time.

Presentation by Oxi, Karyn, and Kyle

Reminder: we do not meet on Wed. 11/25 because of the holiday the next day.

For Wednesday, December 2nd, we move to visual art in the Black Arts Movement. We’ll start with graphic and print artist Emory Douglas. Douglas was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party and produced most of the graphics in the BPP’s newspaper and many of their posters.

Read Collette Gaiter’s article “Visualizing a Revolution: Emory Douglas and The Black Panther Newspaper” (PDF on the readings page) and Emory Douglas’s “Position Paper #1 on Revolutionary Art” (Position_Paper_on_Revolutionary_Art_No1).

Also view the Emory Douglas images on this Powerpoint: Douglas_Art_Present. (PDF version here: Douglas_Art_Present
Browse the pictures then choose 2-3 to look at carefully. What do you see? Why is it appealing to you? How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? Who is represented in the illustrations? How do they portray Black people? Either save the images of your 2-3 favorites to your phone, tablet, or laptop and bring them to class or (if you have to) print them out. (You only need to bring 2-3; not all of them.) You will need the images to talk about them in class.

Presentation on visual art by Marie, Ashley, and Ana

Also watch this 10-minute Youtube interview with Douglas on how he joined the BPP and his approach to his work.

optional extras:

  • See more of Douglas’s work at the Black Panther Party alumni and legacy website.
  • See the web archive for the 2009 show of Douglas’s artwork at NYC’s New Museum.
  • Douglas’s work (and a few essays) are collected in the book Black Panther: the Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, which is in the CUNY library system (though not at Hunter) and at the New York Public Library. Former BPP member David Hilliard has collected and published some of the BPP newspapers in The Black Panther: Intercommunal News Service 1967-1980; also available in the CUNY Library system and at the Schomburg.
  • Week of 11/2: Black Arts Poetry and Music [Updated]

    Catlett_Blk_Wom_Poets.
    Photo: Homage to Black Women Poets by Elizabeth Catlett.

    Next week we finish with written poetry from the Black Arts Movement and move to music.

    For Monday, November 2, Read the following from the SOS reader. Please bring the book with you to class so you can refer to specific lines.
     
    Sonia Sanchez, “The Development of Social Values and the Birth of the Poet” (P.245) and “African and African-American Poetic Resistance to Imperialistic Social Values” (pp. 247-248) These pieces are background on the poetry.
     
    Optional: Read Haki Madhubuti’s essay “Storm Coming: Memory and History” (pp. 254-62) for more background.
     
    Poems (from the SOS reader):
     

  • Calvin C. Hernton “Jitterbugging in the Streets”
  • Don. L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti) “But He Was Cool or: he even stopped for green lights”
  • Audre Lorde “Naturally”
  • Jayne Cortez: “How Long Has This Trane been Gone?”
  •  
    Poems from the Jones/Baraka Reader (Please bring this book with you, too):
     

  • “SOS”
  • “It’s Nation Time”
  •  
    Think about connections to the larger themes we’ve addressed of Black Arts and the political statements and how (if?) they’re addressed in the poetry.

    Choose a few significant quotes from the text. Take notes on why they’re significant.

  • How does the poetry balance art and politics? In your opinion, does work on an artistic level? Why or why not?
  • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see? Mark/underline specific examples in the text.
  • How do the poets use language?
  • What images do they present of Black people?
  •  
    Optional: See the Black Fire! reader on reserve in Hunter’s library for much more poetry, fiction, political statements, and plays.

    Reminder Remember to send me a proposal for your final paper if you haven’t already.

    Student presentation by Marcos, Vernette, and Ketsie

    a-love-supreme

    Photo: Cover of the classic Coltrane album A Love Supreme that was widely influential.

    For Wednesday, November 4, we’ll have an opening presentation on music by Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Ras Moshe, who’ll discuss the work of John and Alice Coltrane as influences to Black Arts and jazz of the 1960s and beyond.

    Read “Jazz and the White Critic” in the Jones/Baraka reader (pp. 179-186). What’s baraka’s argument about Coltrane’s music and what that means more broadly to the movement? What’s the relationship of social class to music? Optional (for music enthusiasts): “The Changing Same (R&B and the New Black Music)” — also in the Jones/Baraka reader. This essay focuses more on popular music of the time.

    Listen to the following playlist on YouTube. Most of these are audio only; Coltrane’s “Afro Blue” is a live video and worth watching to get the full effect.

    Optional: See Pat Thomas’s book Listen Whitey: the Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, on reserve in the Hunter Library for more on music and spoken word.

    Week of 10/26: Black Arts theater and spoken word poetry

    Alice_Childress
    Photo: Playwright Alice Childress.

    Next week we finish with plays from the Black Arts Movement and move to poetry.

    For Monday, October 26, Read Alice Childress’s play Wine in the Wilderness in the SOS reader. Bring the book with you to class so you can refer to specific lines. We’ll also finish discussion of Sonia Sanchez’s The Bronx is Next: please re-read that. (PDF of the Sanchez play is on the readings page). One recurring theme we see in these plays is that of urban rebellions/riots.
    Think about the following as you read:

    • What’s the setting of the play and how does it help shape the action?
    • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see? Mark/underline specific examples in the text.
    • What characters are portrayed in the play and how are they shown?
    • What social commentary or critique does Childress make?
    •  

      Watch the short trailer for the Newark ’67 documentary for background. You can watch the entire film online using your Hunter NET ID.

      Optional: The documentary film I’ve been showing clips of in class, <em>Black Theater: The making of a Movement, is also available to stream with your Hunter NET ID if you want to explore further.

      Announcements: The Sun Ra Arkestra (directed by Marshall Allen) will be at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg on the 22nd. The Arkestra was founded by the eclectic musical visionary Sun Ra and has been kept going since his death by Marshall Allen. Also, a new Nina Simone documentary, The Amazing Nina Simone is playing for a week at the AMC Empire 25 theater on W 42nd St. Worth catching if you have an interest in Simone, especially for this class.

      Last_Poets_album_still

      Photo: The Last Poets, circa 1970.

      For Wednesday, October 28, watch the following videos in the embedded YouTube playlist. All are from albums of recorded 1960s/70s poetry.

      Presentation by Sheniece, Alycia, Papo, and Yudhel.

      Think about the following as you watch:
       

    • What kind of audiences might these appeal to? Why?
    • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see?
    • How might these appeal to people not traditionally into poetry?
    • Would you buy these records
    • Optional: See Pat Thomas’s book Listen Whitey: the Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, on reserve in the Hunter Library for more on music and spoken word.

    12/19: Final Exam and papers

    The big news for this week is, of course, that the final is on Thursday the 19th from 1:45-3:45 in the usual classroom. Don’t miss it!!. It’s logistically difficult to do make-ups and that may not happen before the grade deadline. Note also that I won’t offer a make-up except for very good reasons.

    Also note that final papers are due the next day, Friday December 20th, via e-mail. I’ll send you a receipt to let you know I received it. In case you’ve lost the assignment sheet, head on over to the Assignments page to refresh your memory.

    Also, as a quick reminder and public service announcement, back up your work! Do it now! Every semester at least one student has a disaster story of a lost USB drive or crashed computer that took all of their data with them. You should have (at minimum) 2 copies of all important things that you’re working on. If the main one gets lost, at least you’re not re-creating it from scratch. At this point, online storage is cheap enough (read: free) that you can at least have a backup of your documents folder, which for most of us is the most important thing and doesn’t take up much space. I’ll point you to Lifehacker’s handy guide, which doesn’t include Google Drive, as the latter appeared after their roundup.

    If you’re a little rusty on formatting, (don’t worry, most of us are), then check out Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), which is your resource for all things citation-related and can help you deal with the intricacies of the “big three” formats: Chicago Style, APA, MLA.

    I also have a presentation that I present to other classes that deals strictly with MLA, which you can see here. It’s much less comprehensive than the Purdue OWL, but meant to be a quick intro or refresher. Enjoy!

    Week of 11/25: Faith Ringgold’s visual art

    Faith Ringgold, The Black Arts Movement. From the Art in Context website.

    For Monday 12/2, we continue looking at visual art of the Black Arts Movement with a look at Faith Ringgold. Ringgold has become known for her story quilts, but we’re going to look at some earlier work from her “American People” and “Black Light” series of works from the 1960s to early 1970s. Read the 2 pdf files from Ringgold’s autobiography We Flew Over the Bridge. (Both PDFs on the Readings page; book is also at Wexler Library and the NY Public Library system).

    Next view the images in the embedded PowerPoint file from the 2 series (which you can also download as a PDF):


  • What do you see?
  • Why is it appealing to you?
  • How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? (Does it?)
  • What are the similarities and differences between her work and that of Emory Douglas?
  • Who is represented in the pictures? Who isn’t?
  • Choose 2 images to create a short narrative about. What themes of the course and Black Arts Movement do you see represented?

    For Thursday 12/5, we’ll have our last guest speaker of the semester to talk about the US Organization and the influence of the Black Arts Movement on his music. James Mtume joined the US Organization and came to prominence in the music world as a member of Miles Davis’s band during Davis’s electric period from 1971-1975. He later led his own band (called Mtume), which became well known for the heavily sampled song “Juicy Fruit”. More recently, he was an on-air personality on the “Open Line” show on New York City’s WBLS FM radio.

    Read Floyd Hayes and Judson Jeffries’s “US Does Not Stand for United Slaves!” (PDF on the Readings page.)

    Week of 11/25: Emory Douglas’s visual art

    For Monday, November 25th, we move to visual art in the Black Arts Movement. We’ll start with graphic and print artist Emory Douglas. Douglas was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party and produced most of the graphics in the BPP’s newspaper and many of their posters.

    Read Collette Gaiter’s article “Visualizing a Revolution: Emory Douglas and The Black Panther Newspaper” (PDF on the readings page) and Emory Douglas’s “Position Paper #1 on Revolutionary Art” (Position_Paper_on_Revolutionary_Art_No1). Also view the Emory Douglas images collected on the LA Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition website. Browse the small thumbnail pictures then choose 2-3 to look at carefully. What do you see? Why is it appealing to you? How does this work represent the ideas of the Black Arts Movement? Who is represented in the illustrations? How do they portray Black people? Either save the images of your 2-3 favorites to your phone, tablet, or laptop and bring them to class or (if you have to) print them out. (You only need to bring 2-3; not all of them.) You will need the images to talk about them in class.

    Also watch this 10-minute Youtube interview with Douglas on how he joined the BPP and his approach to his work.



    Thursday, November 28th is the Thanksgiving holiday and we do not meet.

    optional extras:

  • See more of Douglas’s work at the Black Panther Party alumni and legacy website.
  • See the web archive for the 2009 show of Douglas’s artwork at NYC’s New Museum.
  • Douglas’s work (and a few essays) are collected in the book Black Panther: the Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, which is in the CUNY library system (though not at Hunter) and at the New York Public Library. Former BPP member David Hilliard has collected and published some of the BPP newspapers in The Black Panther: Intercommunal News Service 1967-1980; also available in the CUNY Library system and at the Schomburg.
  • Week of 11/11: Revolution on film and The Spook Who Sat by the Door

    For Monday 11/18, we’ll turn to film and look at how the Black Arts Movement tried to break into mass entertainment and on to the big screen. As an example, we’ll watch the first half of The Spook Who Sat By the Door, (1973) which was written by Sam Greenlee (the screenplay was adapted from his book of the same title), directed by Ivan Dixon (who co-starred opposite Abbey Lincoln in Nothing But A Man), and features a seriously funky soundtrack by Herbie Hancock. [Note for online course followers: Spook is also on Netflix, occasionally pops up on YouTube, and will be posted here on the Video page. Contact me for access.]

    Monday’s assignment is to think about the context of Spook and read/watch the following:

  • Read this short 2003 article (“After 30 Years, Controversial Film Re-emerges”) from NAACP’s The Crisis on Google Books
  • Read Cultural Historian Todd Boyd’s summary of the Blaxploitation film genre on The Root
  • Watch this 4-minute “making of” video on Youtube:



    [11/20 Update: the Grace Lee Boggs essay is now on the Readings page]
    For Thursday 11/21: we’ll watch the second half of The Spook Who Sat By the Door in class. For this half, think about the background in terms of themes of revolution and rebellion. Read Grace Lee Boggs’s essay, “The Black Revolution”, from Toni Cade Bambara’s The Black Woman anthology (PDF on the Readings page). Lastly, watch this short compilation of scenes from Blaxploitation films:



    Also watch the trailer for Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterpiece The Battle of Algiers, which cinematically depicts the successful Algerian anti-colonial struggle against France. While Pontecorvo’s film was artistically influential, it also had political reverberations: could the techniques the Algerians used could be replicated? With urban rebellions (many of which were precipitated by acts of police violence) erupting across the country, it seemed within the realm of possibility to some, even if the success of such a strategy was doubtful at best.



    Although there isn’t a neat distinction between Blaxploitation as a genre and “Black Arts”, it’s worth noting that the Blaxploitation films generally evolved into mass, commercial entertainment controlled by the film studios, and focused more on putting Black faces in the films themselves, while not necessarily developing infrastructure or institutions that would support a larger ecosystem of Black writers, directors, film technicians, or studio and production facilities.

    One cinematic outgrowth of the era is the L.A. Rebellion filmmakers who emerge from UCLA’s film program. Although politicized by the Black Arts/Black power period, they don’t become active until the mid-late 1970s, and miss the height of Black Arts Movement. Charles Burnett, Haile Gerima, and Julie Dash are three of the most prominent to emerge.

    Here are a few things to think about while reading and watching (in class). First, film is difficult to produce in that the process of creating it is expensive and time-consuming, particularly in the analog era. No digital video or Final Cut Pro here, folks. This naturally limits the ability of Black Arts Movement aligned artists looking to do work beyond the mainstream.

    There’s also the issue of distribution. Again, consider technology of the time: no iTunes or video on demand, which means a release in theaters. That means distribution by a major studio, which Greenlee managed for Spook (using some deception about the film’s contents), but also meant very limited release and that it remained locked inside the studio’s vaults for decades. Greenlee had to be creative about getting Paramount Pictures to agree to distribute the film, as did Melvin Van Peebles with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasss Song. (Van Peebles, ever the trickster, led people to believe he was making a porn movie.)

    Also, the soundtrack for Spook comes from noted jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, who was named Mwandishi, Swahili for “composer”, by James Mtume, who was affiliated with the Cultural Nationalist US Organization (and founders of Kwanzaa). This is a nod to the need to connect with people by the use of a popular musician and catchy soundtrack (which we still see in film today), shows the cross-genre connections of the Black Arts Movement, and is another example of artists becoming more widely politicized.

    Finally, consider contextual questions. What outside issues does all this relate to in 1974? How are Black characters portrayed on the screen in this film? What themes do you see that are similar to others we’ve seen this semester? Note also differences between Greenlee’s film and the Blaxploitation films that became popular at the time and had mainstream Hollywood backing behind them.

    Reminders: those of you who still owe me either a paper proposal or draft works cited should get them in. Aside from me not being able to help you with your paper, they count toward the paper grade.

  • Week of 11/11: Black Arts and Music, continued

    roach-max-729-l

    For Monday the 11th, we continue our discussion of the relationship of music and musicians to the Black Arts Movement with a look at jazz musicians and jazz collectives. Read chapter 9 (“Jazz, Artist Collectives, and Black Consciousness”: 149-173) in Listen Whitey!: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975. Skip pages 162-165 (Herbie Hancock, Mtume: we’ll go back to them later).

    Thomas covers a lot of ground in this chapter. We’ll supplement it with watching more of episode 10 (“A Masterpiece by Midnight“) of the PBS series Ken Burns’ Jazz (which is also on the Video page). Pay attention to: 1) Artist collectives (the AACM, Art Ensemble of Chicago) and communal approaches 2) Iconography and visual representations of the movement (clothing, references to Africa, revolutionary issues), and 3) the diversity of musical approaches artists take in responding to the call for “Black Art”.

    Watch the Max Roach Quintet with Abbey Lincoln’s perform “Freedom Day” and “Tryptich: Prayer, Protest, Peace” from their landmark We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (1961), here seen on Belgian TV in 1964. Listen carefully to what Lincoln does vocally, both lyrically (on “Freedom Day”) and the emotion she puts into “Tryptich”, especially the screaming. Think carefully about how that resonates to the times and what sort of statement that makes. See Listen Whitey pages 150-151.





    Watch Rahsaan Roland Kirk perform “Volunteered Slavery” live at the 1972 Montreaux (Switzerland) Jazz Festival. See Listen Whitey pages 166-168.



    Listen to Les McCann and Eddie Harris’s “Compared to What” from their live Swiss Movement. See Listen Whitey pages 168-169.



    Watch this short (10 minute) documentary on the Art Ensemble of Chicago.



    Watch Nina Simone perform “Four Women” live at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. Pay attention to her clothing and hair style as obvious influences of the movement and new Black consciousness. As you watch, think about the lyrics and the narrative she’s telling about the experiences of Black women.



    Optional is the chapter on the 1960s from John Szwed’s Jazz 101 and the liner notes from the Freedom Sounds CD (which has a good overview of the musical trends) on the Readings page.

    On Thursday the 14th We move to music-inspired writing with a focus on John Coltrane’s masterpiece album A Love Supreme. While Coltrane himself was not as overtly political as many other artists of the time, his work (and death) had similar reverberations to that of Malcolm X, with numerous responses from artists working in various forms.

    From the Readings page, please read/listen to the following:

  • Sonia Sanchez’s interview and poetry (pay special attention to “A Coltrane Poem”).
  • Haki Madhubuti’s poetic response to Coltrane: “Don’t Cry, Scream”. (Note: a longer interview with Madhubuti is also on the Readings page. I’m leaving that up if anyone’s interested, but the assignment is just to read the shorter “Don’t Cry, Scream” PDF).
  • Listen to John Coltrane’s classic A Love Supreme album on Youtube while reading. (The entire album is about 32 minutes and is likely on Spotify as well if you want to listen there). Listen at least once, preferably a few times. Even better: listen to it the first thing in the morning as the sun is rising.
  • Watch this live performance of Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things”, which Sanchez references in “A Coltrane Poem”.
  • Think about how Sanchez and Madhubuti try to approximate Coltrane’s sound in their work and play with words on the page in an effort to do so. Also think about what Sanchez says about the wider influence of the music on the work of poets in her interview. Again, be sure to do the listening!.

    Announcements:

  • Ed Bullins’s play In the Wine Time is at the Castillo Theater in Manhattan until November 24th. Recommended and extra credit is available if you’re motivated to write something up in response.
  • Remember also to start working on ideas for those final papers. (Assignment here, if you’ve lost the sheet.) Start choosing a topic and narrowing it down …
  • Week of 11/4: Music and the Black Arts/Power movements

    Listen_Whitey_cover

    [EDIT: Revised Monday to post listening/ reading for Thursday]
    For Monday, we continue our discussion of the relationship of music and musicians to the Black Arts Movement and will have a visit from Pat Thomas, author of Listen Whitey!: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975. I’ll also be interviewing him on WBAI Radio 99.5 FM (streaming on wbai.org) from 11 PM – 1 AM Sunday night.

    Read chapters 4 (“Soul on Wax”: 73-87) on the music of the Black Panther Party and 8 (“Wattstax: A Festival of Brotherhood” pages 143-147) on the Wattstax music festival in Listen Whitey!.

    Listen to The Lumpen sing “Free Bobby”.



    Listen to BPP chair Elaine Brown sing “The Meeting” from her album Seize the Time.



    Listen to BPP chair Elaine Brown sing “Seize the Time” from her album Seize the Time.



    Watch the trailer for Wattstax on YouTube. (The entire film appears to be on YouTube as well, if you’re interested.)



    Finally, watch Jesse Jackson deliver the National Black Litany (“I Am Somebody”) from Wattstax on YouTube, followed by “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (a.k.a. the Black National Anthem). Note the call-and-response of “What time is it/ It’s nation time!” and the language of self-respect and self-determination coming from the stage. Wattstax was just one of many large music festivals of the era



    For Thursday 11/7: Spoken word and poetry.

    Today, we’ll continue with Listen Whitey! and focus on recorded poetry and spoken word from the Black Arts Movement. We’ll be concentrating on a few areas of the book for today:

  • The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron (pages 15-21)
  • Black Spirits and The Original Last Poets (41-45)
  • Jayne Cortez and Nikki Giovanni (pages 115-120)
  • The Watts Prophets (pages 123-127)
  • Listen to The Last Poets’ “When the Revolution Comes”, from their self-titled first album on Douglas Records (1970).


    Listen to The Last Poets’ “Niggers are Scared of Revolution”, also from their self-titled first album on Douglas Records (1970).

    Listen to The Original Last Poets’ “Die Nigger”, from Right On! (1970).


    Listen to Gil Scot-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” from his Small Talk at 125th and Lenox album (1970). Note the different, much more sparse production from the vrsion below


    Listen to Gil Scot-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” from his Pieces of a Man album (1971). Same words, but much better production and a full band yield a catchy tune that’s become one of his best known works.


    Listen to Jayne Cortez’s “How Long Has ‘Trane Been Gone?” from Celebrations and Solitudes (1974).


    Listen to Jayne Cortez’s “I am New York City” from Celebrations and Solitudes (1974).


    Listen to Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping” from The Truth is on its Way.


    Listen to the Watts’ Prophets’ “Dem Niggers Ain’t Playing” from Rapping Black in a White World.


    Be sure to do the listening! You can read about these artists, but you won’t get the full effect without listening, possibly a few times. After listening to all of the selections, choose one poem to listen to several times and take notes to present to the rest of the class on. What themes do you hear them addressing? What is (or isn’t) appealing about the sound? How do you think audiences would react? Think about how releasing their work in this way might help poets reach greater audiences and connect with people not used to poetry in a different way.