Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Poetry Tag

My good friend Rethabile has tagged me today. So, I get to talk about something that I hold dear. Yes, I get to talk about writing and poetry! I hope that you all will learn something new about me. Ke a leboha, ntate!

1. Question one: Why do you write poetry (or literature) at all?

This congenital impulse in me was conceived through the Black oral tradition. My grandmother, Eunice was the family griot. I would listen intently to the stories that she would tell me as a child. These were stories passed down to her by her elders and she was more than willing to pass them on to me. I was an inquisitive, bright-eyed little boy with dozens of questions about who we were and who we are. All of this has compelled me to pick up the pen.

2. Question two: What is your favorite poem? You know, the one you'd have loved to have written, the one by whose standard you base all other works of art. If your life depended on answering this question, what poem would you suggest to the person holding the knife to your throat?

That would have to be the song, ZOOM Lyrics - COMMODORES. I know that Lionel is no Wole Soyinka or Gwendolyn Brooks, but I keep these lyrics pinned up near my desk. The lyrics seem to express exactly how I feel about life. The words are beautiful and definitely poetry.

3. Question three: According to you, what is the state of poetry today? Is poetry flourishing or dying?

I think of poetry the same way that I think of Jazz. Poetry is something that cannot be contained. It evolves and it is shaped and formed by the experiences of the people.

4. Question four: What kind of poetry (or literature) do you dislike, and would not consider buying?

I would not subscribe to or buy any poetry that is based on hate or contempt for God (Trinity), or another man as an ethnic group/race.

5. Question five: Between the styles of Come (by Makhosana Xaba) and word speaks (by Kojo Baffoe) which do you prefer? Care to tell us why? Obviously, Makhosana and Kojo aren't required to answer this question.

I can’t choose one because they both appeal to a part of me. Mme Xaba’s poem appeals that part of me that loves who we are as Africans and people of African descent (In other words, Africans). Mr. Baffoe’s poem appeals to my love of language and expression. They were both passionate in different ways. They were both beautiful!

6. Question six: What was the last poetry book you bought?

Leadbelly: poems, by Tyehimba Jess. I met this brother at the restaurant, Busboys and Poets. here in Washington, DC. He was hanging out with poet/activist Tony Medina. I had a great time conversing and laughing with these men. Look out for a review soon.

7. Question seven: Where do you go for poetry on the web?

All over, but I’m linked to a few on my sidebar under “Educators, Writers, & Poets.”

8. Question eight: Do you talk poetry (or literature) with friends and family? "Hi honey -- Hey, I read this incredible poem today..."

I sent half of my family some of my poetry a few weeks back by email. I feel that it is important for family to know us on more than a surface level. They need to know that there is more to me than just being “Stevie.”

9. Question nine: What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning poet (or writer in general)? One. What would you tell them to do or not to do?

I would tell them the advice that I repeat in my own head over and over, “Stephen, don’t worry about making it perfect the first time around…just write!

10. Question ten: What line comes to you after the following two verses (in other words, please write the third verse -- these are spontaneous lines from me and are no part of any poem I'm writing or will be writing).

When the light from the lantern
beamed and fell upon the child,

The illumination of her smile
cast a shadow on my pain
And all was better for a while

By the way, I'd like to tag Urban Butterfly for this one. Come on fly! *smile*

photo: Pen and a Pad
by: S Bess

Sources:,, and


Rethabile said...

Wow, that's cool. I'm gonna properly link to this bank of info a little later on. Brilliant.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thanks! It was so much fun! :)

get zapped said...

Stephen, I admire how our tell it like it is. You're so real and yet, honest in a gentle way. The lines you added in #10 made my heart flutter a bit and smile inside. Thank you!

Peace to you and your family in '07!

Reth- thank you for this opportunity ; )

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you so much! You made me realize that I didn't have it posted properly in terms of presentation. Thanks for that as well. Peace to you as well. Take care~ :)

Lyrically speaking said...

Stephen, you're on "fiya", I will for sure check out Tony Medina. You get to meet all these great poets...I can't imagine shaking hands with Sonia Sanchez, I would love to meet her.

I enjoyed reading all your answers, keep on moving, don't stop :)

P.s. By the way I answered your question about getting my paintings at a discount rate :)

to touch a unicorn said...

Enjoyed reading this Stephen, such interesting answers and the advice of no. 9 is just what I need right now. :)
And, your response to 19 is beautiful, you really do have a way with words.
Happy New Year! Health and happiness to you and your family Stephen.

to touch a unicorn said...

Ooops! No edit button of course I mean question 10. :-)

Stephen A. Bess said...

Hello Sandy! Good to see you back. Yes, I need to listen to my own advice. We will both do this and maybe something positive can come from it.
Thank you for the compliment on the poem from one wordsmith to the other. Peace to you and yours as well. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm in love with the "on the spot" poem at the end!!

Your answers are so vivid and tangible! I love it!! Thanks for tagging me! =) I accept the challenge and will have my answers up by this evening. Have a great day, Mr. Stevie!! =)


Stephen A. Bess said...

Thanks UB! I look forward to your answers.

Icarus said...

That was truly great reading! At long last, an intelligent, serious tag. And yeah 'Stevie', it revealed plenty of new dimensions to the man. Ditto, the completion to the poem. You did a great job!
Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! You have your way with words Stephen. The sky is the limit, only You can stop yourself.

Come to think of it my one and only closest contact with Poetry is;
I'll climb the highest mountain to see you
I'll cross a river infested with Crocodiles in order to be with you, my Chocolate!!

And that's not even my original, I heard it from some construction worker when I was running to school (barefeet)a long time ago :)

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you sir! I really enjoyed it. :)

lol You're funny! What were you doing going to school barefoot? I know that they had shoes in your country.
Thank you for your encouragement. You're correct in that only I can stop me. Peace~ :)

Anonymous said...

My answers are up! Hope you enjoy them! Thanks again for the tag. It was fun! =)

Nabeel said...

you ended the line marvelously .. couldn't be ended better. my favorite English poem would be Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe ..

African girl, American world said...

Yup gotta let them know that there's more to you then just Stevie :=)

Stephen A. Bess said...

Way to go! Thanks! :)

Thank you! I like Annabel Lee too. :)

Yes indeed! There's more to me than just what you see. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, here's my wish for you;

"When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o' th' sea, that you might ever do Nothing but that."
William Shakespeare

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Poetry and jazz. Carl Sandberg. Am I right about this?

Stunuh Jay said...

Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Love the picture, was given book of peomes and spoken word by IMANI....very nice, you'll like... I'll try and see if I can send you a clip.

In the mean time, how's that book coming along? :D

Crankyputz said...

I loved those three lines....

I am never going to stop harrasing you for my poem. What do you need for inspiration??

Stephen A. Bess said...


I am not very familiar with his work but I will look him up. Thanks!

Hello stranger! Yes, I would like that. Send me a clip. I am still working on my book. It's a work in progress. :) Thanks!

:) You're funny! Here's what. Email me your ethnic background and where your family is from and I will come up with something just for you.

Xave said...

Reading you is always a pleasure.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you sir. :)

Black Men in Life Space: A Change for the Better

Photo Source: Showtime The late great Chicago soul singer, Sam Cooke sang and announced that "A Change is Gonna Come." On season f...