Let’s see. What to tell first. Okay, the good people at LUCIPO selected and posted some of their short favorite poems, which can be seen at the LUCIPO Blog today. I enjoy this listerv very much. Poets are flocking to it as we speak. The tone is casual and friendly, and you can post on just about any topic that strikes your fancy. Well, almost anything.
Moving on: this weekend, I heard the Fugees’ new single, “Take It Easy.” I don’t quite know what to make of it after just one listen. I can say that Lauryn Hill was truly throwing down though. She was rapping faster than usual (at least, based on her album some six years or so ago) about a topic she clearly felt passionately about. I’ve already forgotten what it was. But I can say it was energizing to hear her in the car late on a Friday night.
I’ve always liked Hill in spite of whatever strange religious affiliations she took up that made her pause in her musical career. I know a speedbump can be attributed to her marriage with Ziggy Marley, which reminded me of Alice Walker’s The Temple of My Familiar (probably because the singer in the novel is based on Ziggy’s father, Bob Marley, which I found out later — go figure). Nonetheless, Ms. Hill got sidetracked by some religious endeavor that I forget the premise of now.
Anyway, I’ll tell you why I’ve always liked Hill and why I place Wyclef Jean on the less favorable side of the fence. It’s all in the little things, ya know. So way back in grad school at SUNY Buffalo, I went to see the Fugees perform in our gymnasium, of all places. The bleachers had been pushed back to make room for the audience to stand around and dance if they wanted to. So we did. We got down. It was great. We were slammin’ as it were.
But about halfway through the show, Jean decided to stop the set. He had noticed two guys sitting way at the top of the mostly-closed bleachers. From the stage, he asked the spotlight to point these two guys out, and he yelled up to them that they “better dance.” “Stand up.” They did not. He told them again. No move. Jean proceeded to climb down from the stage and walk through the crowd, up the bleachers and stand over these two guys, mike still in hand.
Now, these two guys were white guys, probably all of nineteen or twenty. They were seated out of the way of the crowd, and with Jean standing over them, looking fairly uneasy. Jean proceed to lecture them about the merits of his show and how he didn’t care what color you were, if you were at his concert you were damn well going to get up and dance. With blank faces, the two guys finally gave in and stood up where they were. This response was enough to satisfy Jean, who finally returned to the stage.
Now I know Jean has done some benefit shows and tried to bring attention to some causes in his country of birth, Haiti. Kudos for him. And I don’t mean to write the guy off, but throughout his little show-within-a-show, his bandmates, Hill and Pras, were looking mighty uncomfortable. Hill even tried to stop Jean before he climbed down from the stage. I was absolutely not surprised when she broke from the band surrounded by unpleasant rumors about her fights with Jean. I even recall something about Jean trying to stop her from going solo, which she successfully did. I’ll speculate no more, except to wonder about the impetus for this reunion. Underneath it all, I do not think Hill and Jean will be able to carry on another Fugees’ career for long.
Okay. What else? you might ask. Well, my friend just returned from delivering a lecture in Cork, Ireland and from hanging out with Frank O’Connor’s widow. She gave him a book on new Irish slang, which he promptly cited so that I might know that Guinness is currently referred to as a pint of “Parish Priest,” thanks to its white collar. He also let me know that my recommendation of Murphy’s Stout was right on the money.
Speaking of Ireland, there has been much debate as of late over the country’s policy on gay marriage and civil unions. In fact last year, a lesbian couple attempted to get their Canadian marriage recognized in Ireland. Okay, we all know what happens when issues arise and are debated: sides are taken and fought from and for. With the gay debate comes gay bashing. Yes, even in a rapidly developing urban area like happy Dublin just this past Saturday night. And the locals are posting about it here. Hate does not discriminate. It lives and dines everywhere.
Ahh, but you thought I was going to leave you on an unhappy note, no? No. If you want a quick laugh at someone else’s expense, visit the Engrish website like I used to do when I worked at an ESL school and wanted to cheer myself. I don’t know if it’s politically incorrect, but the mistakes can range from a waste-of-space to knee-slapping funny. They update regularly, so you decide.
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.