Saturday, June 4, 2011

The economy of grace: New online collection of poems by Dennis Brutus

“No poem is ever finished—it is merely abandoned.”
“Perhaps all poems are merely drafts.”
Dennis Brutus
made me more alive,
more human;
I repay that gift
by making more alive
someone else".
Dennis Brutus
Nov 14 1976
For those of us involved in social and political activism the poet Dennis Brutus is an inspiration. Brutus's poetry has appeared many times on this blog (here).

So imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this online collection of unpublished poems by Dennis Brutus "Poetry and Human Rights: Poems by Dennis Brutus"  published by Worcester State College. The book contains many unpublished poems uncovered in Brutus private papers held by Worcester State College.

In his famous poem "Easter 1916" the Irish poem W.B Yeats warned of the emotional price paid by those involved in political struggle:
" Too much sacrifice
can make a stone of the heart"
What I find inspiring about Dennis Brutus's work is that despite his intense lifelong political commitment and engagement , his heart never turned to stone.
"I salute the jacarandas anyway
whatever else the world may offer
offer for our praise
or our opprobrium
I salute the jacarandas anyway.

It will be as if I never lived
there will be no trace of me
there will be no sign of me remembered
it will be as if I never lived
no trace of me will remain
it will be as if nothing had been.

What will it matter if nothing remains?

you will have breathed the fresh morning air
and walked the dewy morning grass
and will have asserted for once your being

and I will salute the jacarandas once more.

Oct. 3, 2008
For Mahmoud Darwish
East London, Oct. 11, 2008
 * * * * * *
X Parish, New Orleans
Corpses floating in that murk
of water, mud, debris, arms dangling
or stiff in death’s rigor, breasts
bloated with congealed blood;
burly boatmen, bursting with vigor
in orange protectors, pole
their skiffs expertly, their tenterhooks
grapple with cadavers, impale thighs
exposed in death’s indifferent obscenity;
in call centers data clerks enter ciphers
that record someone’s loss:
there is no place for grief.
Oct., 2005

* * * * * *
An erratic experience
concrete wilderness
a scrivener’s jungle
they will exclaim dismayed
somewhat in pity, somewhat in horror
while I chuckle amused
buried in my predicament.

* * * * * *
Beyond this problem
many others rise
peaks loom through mists
beyond this range
gathering our energies
we know much more
will be demanded
in times to come.

July 21, 2004

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