Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Poem of the Week: Holly Bass

The Furious Dance

an occasional poem in celebration of Alice Walker and her book of poetry, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing

October 2, 2010 (presented with tap dancer Melissa Frakman)

Photo Credit: McKenzie Johnson

What is a furious dance?

It is not polite.

Does not shuck and jive or shuffle along.

It is not beige.

It is bold. In your face. Ready for revolution.

A solidarity of the body. A rhetoric of rhythm.

A furious dance is the knowing

that despite the opposition's best efforts

to suppress, deny, destroy

we will shake off your oppression

and stamp it into dust

with our furiously dancing feet.

Are you furious

in your peacemaking, in your pleasure making,

your life giving and living? Do you dance the sun up

and give thanks each day?

We must be furious, like our sister Alice

Her words cut through

all the tepid tea parties, the sleight

of hand and misdirection of

pundits, politicos and profit mongers

She speaks truth, sings peace

in her garden of words

fingers coaxing nourishment

from the earth's fertile being


The eighth and last child of

Willie Lee Walker and

Minnie Lou Tallulah Grant Walker

royalty of "the rural peasantry"

from red clay Georgia

this Daughter, Sister, Mother

Bearer of magic talismans:

a suitcase, a sewing machine,

a typewriter


She who make inroads

from dirt roads

Who cuts new paths

wherever her feet take her

Spelman to Sarah Lawrence

New York City to Mississippi

Gaza and Washington, DC

Poet, novelist, essayist, anthologist

editor, educator, activist



sending us in search

of our mothers' gardens

only to discover that We

are the ones we have

been waiting for

We praise her for teaching

a generation of women the difference

between lavender and purple,

between feminist and womanist

for reclaiming our heroine

Zora Neale Hurston

and returning her arrow-sharp words

to their rightful position

Alice Walker has given us more

than four decades of catalytic language

beginning with a book of poems in 1967


gathering into the global phenomenon

that is The Color Purple

and arriving some thirty books later here

to Hard Times Require Furious Dancing

Require is a word of urgency,


That is to say, this is not optional, people

this is a call to action,

to march, to shout, to protest, to love

to dance and dance furiously

our collective humanity.

-Holly Bass

Used by permission.

Holly Bass is a poet and performer. A Cave Canem fellow, her poems have appeared in Callaloo, nocturnes (re)view, Role Call, Beltway and The Ringing Ear, an anthology of Black Southern poetry.

Bass, Poet-in-Residence at the 5th & K Busboys and Poets, was a featured reader for the opening night of Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

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