Tuesday, January 10, 7pm – Poetry
author of Whose America? New and Selected Poems
Writing in the socially-engaged poetic tradition of Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman, Ewuare X. Osayande unleashes his latest book of poems, Whose America?, that takes on the political climate of this country and garners the praises of two living legends of Black poetry, Amiri Baraka and Haki R. Madhubuti, in the process. It is from this artistic trajectory that Osayande crafts a whirlwind of poems that chronicle the national political journey of the past few years. From Hurricane Katrina to the current economic crisis, Osayande is a bard that pays homage to the strength of the human spirit with each poem. Readers have come to appreciate Osayande’s internationalist worldview.
In Whose America?, Osayande is reporter, translator, interpreter and negotiator. He takes us from the ghettoes of Paris to the marshes of Nigeria to the ruins of Haiti after the 2011 quake. He remembers the lives of activists and cultural icons such as Octavia E. Butler, Gil Scott-Heron, Lucille Clifton and Ken Saro-Wiwa. Rooted in the Black radical tradition of speaking truth to empower, Osayande’s poems cry forth a defiance that is rooted in an unflinching love for humanity.
When “Take Our Country Back” has become a rallying cry of the Tea Party, Ewuare Osayande’s book poses the fundamental question of this time. In the book’s introduction, Madhubuti states that Whose America? is both “a question and an answer.” “His poetic range is that of a seer,” continues Madhubuti. “Writing to this poet is like drinking water; it is his life-source, his song, and his uniquely determined voice.” And Osayande’s determination is on full display in Whose America?. Whether challenging the President in the poem “An Open Letter to President Obama” – “how can we pull ourselves up/ when our boots been snatched/ been repossessed/ been foreclosed/ we can’t live vicariously through you/ in the White House/ when we too busy trying to stay in our own homes” – or counseling his sons in the poem “that first day” – “i have tried to show you that/ being a man is not macho talk/ curse words/ chest beating/ and boasting/ its quiet contemplation of yesterday/ building tomorrows/ with the bare hands of your ambition,” Osayande carries a passion and transparency that is compelling.
According to poet icon Amiri Baraka, Osayande “is one of the United States’ most important young poets!” For Osayande, such praise is humbling. “I have walked a path that was blazed by both of these men. For me, they are the twin towers of Black poetry. It is the highest honor of my career thus far to be recognized by them both.”
Ewuare X. Osayande is an activist and author of fifteen books and pamphlets including Blood Luxury with an introduction by Amiri Baraka and Misogyny and the Emcee: Sex, Race and Hip Hop. He is founder of The People’s Alliance for Justice Now!. Currently, he teaches African American Studies at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ.
More information on Whose America? and Ewuare X. Osayande is available at his website www.osayande.org. Listen to Osayande read one of the poems from the book at osayandespeaks.podomatic.com. Osayande is available for readings, workshops and interviews. Contact him at 484.362.9240 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org