In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Dear Word:
When the earth was without form and void, and you had no need for translation, you were the Universal language. Now, without you, the beginning has no meaning. You claim the moment at which identity sprang into being.
If human experience is more than physical self-preservation, if what makes us human, in other words, has something to do with this consciousness, then the boundaries [of who and what we are] are intimately connected to the ways in which we utilize language to discern those boundaries. What we say we are, how we say we are, matters. Is matter. Word.
Thusly established, suffer me a moment of indulgent specificity, if you will:
To hip-hop: you saved me. Gave me a place to put all this rhythmic theoretical spiritual conjuring. They told me my mouth would get me in trouble someday, so I closed it. I became a lone sojourner. You gave form to the chaos engendered by my interaction with a world that sought to flatten me for its own entertainment… Aye!
DJ, drop my beat!
Ethics loaded with a breath of vested silence Can the clients rest if forced to wage a battle with desire? Losing ground to a tsunami (Y_hweh promised us the fire)
Feeling fervourless[i] and destitute we prostitutes for hire heaven help us Clouds are gathering upon the next horizon Spilling rain upon the just and unjust future sons of Zion
But in your name we stand the rain; move our tongues and ease our pain…
And if hip-hop is the light, then poetry is the sun behind the sun, the play murmuring behind the veil of existence. And if poetry murmurs behind the veil, then Spoken Word is the convergent locus of history and human practice, of what's told and what's concealed. When done right, it births Word into the world.
So praise be to the ideas, the inflections, the bodily enunciation, the reflexive jazz of audience and speaker. Praise be to the practice that remains, like drum beats, like dances, like the archetypal images of our ancestry: sankofa. gye nyame. Going back. Except for God. In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. Except for Word, what is immanent? In the beginning is the end. In the end, the beginning. Like a cipher, all that changes, becomes what was.
Praise be to the Word. You were here in the beginning. When the earth was without form and full of your universal rhythm. The primitive, the primal, the primeval First Cause. Numeral and lexicon and beat and tone and gesture, we are your humble and ever-eager offspring, offering a moment of our deepest gratitude.
Amen. Alhamdullilah. Ashe.
I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-gray, And Winter's dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day. The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be The Century's corpse outleant, His crypt the cloudy canopy, The wind his death-lament. The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon earth Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware.