Literature

“10′s & Things; in memory of Carmen McRae” — a poem by Michael Harper

Carmen McRae


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10′S & THINGS

in memory of Carmen McRae


by Michael Harper




Fingerings,” she says, a nobody,
intermission pianist
for the likes of Anita O’Day;
but this is Chicago,
three plus years out of Harlem
resisting suicide recommended
by jealous musicians.

Now that you’re dead
jockeys begin to vamp
on your treatment
of ‘Round Midnight,
playing it too loud
in the broad daylight
of their swing shifts





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John Forasté © Brown University


About Michael Harper



 Michael Harper is one of America’s most celebrated poets, having received honors and appointments from artistic organizations and academic institutions across the country, ranging from National Book Award to a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is much sought after for poetic readings, guest lectureships, and visiting professorships, and served as the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island from 1988 to 1993, and as Kapstein Professor of English at Brown University.

 His poetry is highly influenced by the music he loves: jazz and blues sound through the lines and often appear as inspiration, metaphor or rhythm in individual poems. His poetry is filled with references to his past; history, experience, and family are strong inspirations which reverberate throughout his work. His ancestry, to which he refers frequently, is filled with fascinating and inspirational individuals. Paraphrasing Ralph Ellison, Harper once said: “Relatives are people that you are born into, and have no choice about them. Ancestors are people you choose.” His ancestors live on and their voices can still be heard in the lines of his verse.

- From Brown University Library



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