I’ve been reading Jeff Chang’s Total Chaos: The art and aesthetics of hip-hop… Being a collection of essays, some things are great and others are total shit. That’s the way collections are.
Three essays in, I’m introduced to Marc Bamuthi Joseph… my heart sings, my creativity is tickled, and my head explodes just a little.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an NYC “arts activist”, whose work is pretty varied but mainly now focusses around hip-hop spoken word and dance. He mentors young kids through a program called Youth Speaks – I can’t even begin to express how happy this makes me. I’m right behind anyone who supports literacy and fosters kids’ creativity. Hell, fosters anyone’s creativity! (I am part of Golden Key International, whose Swinburne chapter supports Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth , they do amazing work also around Indigenous Literacy… but I digress).
In his contribution to Total Chaos, MBJ’s piece (Yet Another) Letter To a Young Poet is a call out to the young writing world now.
“…I’m spending the day reading Rilke. He’s this early-twentieth-century European philosopher-king who writes of creating poetry from the depths of the soul out of an irrepressible, intrinsic need. … I can’t believe that I’m in Africa but my eyes are in the book of yet another dead white guy. And yeah, Young World, you should probably read this shit at some point, you know just ‘cuz, but ultimately it exists in his dead-white-guy vacuum that was never meant to include you.”
Bamuthi makes a clear and honest statement to the “young world” –
“Your elders in rhyme challenge you to find your own voice, to work hard to apply it, and to do so responsibly. If you’re not afraid of your own potential, we promise you that we won’t be. Hey Young World, the word is yours…”
Bless his heart, watching this man move is a song that makes me want to write.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph inspires me to write, to take control of what I’m writing, to take the word and make it mine. Reading, watching, and listening to him makes me happy.