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jump mama -- Kurtis Lamkin

Guest poem submitted by Anil C. Mohan :
(Poem #1629) jump mama
 pretty summer day
 grammama sittin on her porch
 rockin her grandbaby in her wide lap
 ol men sittin in their lincoln
 tastin and talkin and talkin and tastin
 young boys on the corner
 milkin a yak yak  wild hands  baggy pants
 young girls halfway up the block
 jumpin that double dutch
 singin their song
 kenny kana paula
 be on time
 cause school begins
 at a quarter to nine
 jump one two three and aaaaaaah. . .

 round the corner comes
 this young woman
 draggin herself heavy home from work
 she sees the young boys
 sees the old men
 but when she sees the girls she just starts smilin
 she says let me get a little bit of that
 they say  you can't jump
 you too old

 why they say that
 o, why they say that

 she says tanya you hold my work bag
 chaniqua come over here girl i want you to hold my
 josie could you hold my grocery bag
 kebè take my purse
 she starts bobbin her head, jackin her arms
 tryin to catch the rhythm of the ropes
 and when she jumps inside those turning loops
 the girls crowd her  sing their song
 kenny kana paula
 be on time
 cause school begins
 at a quarter to nine
 jump one two three and
 she jumps on one leg -- aaaaah
 she dances sassy saucy -- aaaaah
 jump for the girls mama
 jump for the stars mama
 jump for the young boys sayin
 jump mama!  jump mama!
 jump for the old woman sayin -- aww, go head baby

 and what the young girls say
 what the young girls say
-- Kurtis Lamkin
I chanced upon this wonderful poem a few days ago and then noticed that you
had no poems by the relatively  new-age African-American poet Kurtis Lamkin
(biography appended). Lamkin is a multi-faceted talent - besides being a
poet, he is also a musician who plays a 21-stringed West African harp/lute
instrument called the 'kora', has composed the lyrics and music for a dance
concert ('Psychic Lover') and had an animated poem "The Foxes Manifesto,"
based upon the 1976 Soweto Rebellion that was aired for two years on PBS.

I'm not given to much interpreting of poems.  More often, poems that I hold
dear are ones that connect with me at a deep, albeit inexpressible level.
This Lamkin poem impressed upon me in two essential ways. One, it's basic
cadence - it's wonderful rhythmic, bass feel...the 'make your feet tap, body
sway and head nod from side to side, up and down' kind of groove.  And two,
the way it connected aspects of our different 'life selves' together: the
child - active, free, uninhibited, insensitive, self-centred; the young
working adult - harried, cumbered, responsible, tired, worried, hopeful,
'child'ish; the old folk - unhurried - slow-paced, encouraging, observant,
contemplative - reflective.

Hope our minstrel readers like it too....

Anil C. Mohan

 [Bio of Kurtis Lamkin]

Kurtis Lamkin is currently touring the United States with a new collection
of praise poems entitled EL SHABAZZ (CD, Jambaco Sound). As he reads these
poems in praise of the spiritual connection he experienced as a participant
in the Million Man March and in praise of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm
X), Kurtis Lamkin plays the kora, a twenty-one stringed West African
harp-lute used by Djelis (griots, troubadours) to accompany original and
traditional compositions. His own oral compositions explore the counterpoint
between the fixed meanings of words and the raw sounds ("scat") that emerge
from and dissolve into feeling. He has performed his poems and music
internationally, from Sajara, Gambia (West Africa) to the Guggenheim Museum
in New York. His poems have also been broadcast on PBS as a short animated
film (THE FOXES MANIFESTO), choreographed as a dance concert ("Psychic
Lover"), and previously recorded on the CD MY JUJU (1995). From 1994-1996,
he was Poet in Residence at the New School for Social Research. Before that,
he taught in metropolitan New York public schools and community sites
through Teachers & Writers Collaborative. A Philadelphia native, he recently
moved with his family to Charleston, South Carolina. His poems are included
in I FEEL A LITTLE JUMPY AROUND YOU (1996), and he has received fellowships
from the South Carolina Arts Commission and The Fund for Poetry.

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Jeff Key said...

This work affects me on a deep and personal level. Would anyone know how to contact Mr. Lamkin? I would like very much to express my appreciation to him personally.

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