Our Poets are Our Dangerous Friends

[By Jerry Ward]

Our poets do many beneficial things for our commonweal.  They teach in public schools, in colleges and
universities, in alternative education programs, in community centers and
churches and sites of ill-repute.  When they
feel generous, they call our attention to the works of other poets, to the
writings of novelists, essayists, hard and soft scientists, and
dramatists.  When they feel bitter and
small, they call attention only to their egos.

They —  Dudley Randall, Naomi Long Madgett, Margaret
T. Burroughs, Margaret Walker, Ishmael Reed, Lenard D. Moore, Toi Derricotte
and Cornelius Eady,  Haki Madhubuti  —build institutions of great importance in
our cultural lives —Broadside Press, Lotus Press, DuSable Museum, the
Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African American Experience,  I. Reed Books, the North Carolina Collective
African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem Foundation, Third World Press.
They — Al
Young,  Gwendolyn Brooks, Lance Jeffers, Ntozake
Shange, Angela Jackson, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Sapphire, Clarence
Major, Ishmael Reed,  Sherley Anne
Williams, Gayl Jones  — write novels.
They  — 
Kalamu ya Salaam, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers,  and E. Ethelbert Miller  –create and maintain list-serves, websites,
and blogspots.
They  — 
Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed,  Clarence Major,  Camille T. Dungy, James Weldon Johnson, Larry
Neal, Kevin Powell, Sterling Brown, Mari Evans, Dudley Randall,  Tony Medina, Arna Bontemps, Haki Madhubuti,
Sonia Sanchez,  Michael Harper, June
Jordan, Kevin Young, Louis Reyes Rivera, Rita Dove, Kwame Dawes, E. Ethelbert
Miller  —  edit noteworthy anthologies.
They  — 
Eugene B. Redmond, Alvin Aubert, Rudolph Lewis, C. Liegh McInnis
—  found and publish magazines   — Drumvoices Revue, OBSIDIAN,  ChickenBones, Black Magnolias.
They  — 
Audre Lorde , Lorenzo Thomas, Kalamu ya Salaam, LeRoi Jones[ Amiri
Baraka],  Alice Walker, Gayl Jones,
Nathaniel Mackey,  Eugene B. Redmond,
Maya Angelou, Margaret Walker, Jean Toomer, 
Harryette Mullen , Bob Kaufman — 
write touchstone books  — Zami: A New Spelling of My Name,
Extraordinary Measures, What Is Life?, Blues People, In Search of Our Mothers’
Gardens, Liberating Voices, Discrepant Engagement, Drumvoices: The Mission of
Afro-American Poetry, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Jubilee, Cane, The
Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be: Essays and
Interviews, Golden Sardine.
Our poets are our dangerous friends who give eyesight to the