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Haki R. Madhubuti

Gwendolyn Brooks Illinois State
Library: The Naming, June 6, 2003

your ancestry is book country,
able bones crossing the atlantic ocean to discover
white pages, protein and protégé in the midland.


in my first days of learning I remember eyeglasses that joined
    your smile.
I recall your fingers, long, thin, delicately brown and touchable,
suited for turning book pages, appropriate for ink sculpturing
    on paper.
fingers connected to memory, a people, a culture,
    Chicago and this state.
using the language of 47th street, Springfield and Cambridge,
    your poetry
silences us with its narrative love-songs, ripe-sources
    and bone-truths.
poems that governed the weather, invented eyes the colors
    of wheat, sky, coal,
cabbage, soybeans and yes, creating images out of empty
    pockets, and kitchenettes.
art that reversed massacred thought, healthy words renouncing
ignorance, providing a
landscape of glorious literature
emphasizing lineage, liberty and validation.
your discourse is of children, the four seasons:
poetry that deciphers myths.
your writing: the impulse to arrive at meaning, life-ringing
    idioms, bright-calm
all accenting wisdom that affirmed in us the kindness
    of your grand spirit,
the friendliness of ideas, melodies and soap operas,
of water, sun and clean fire. your language is of
the necessity of carrot juice, broccoli and fattening chocolate,
of solitude, good pens and fine paper,
the labor of writers, poets, musicians and under-fed artists,
of librarians, libraries, books and break-even bookstores,
the support of printers, editors and struggling book publishers,
of book festivals, newspapers, magazines and twice-a-year
the requirement of contemplation, dialogue with others
    and reading on trains,
of legislators thinking outside the prism of dark suits
    and half-stories.


our ancestry is book country and rich earth,
galloping souls and skillful deal makers.
we are becoming the portrait of your right words.



Madhubuti, Haki R. Run Toward Fear: New Poems And A Poet's Handbook. Chicago, IL: Third World Press, Inc., 2004.