Thursday, September 13, 2007

I forgot to give Jill a chance

A few years ago, I went to check out Jill Scott reading from her poetry book “The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours,” and got a signed copy of the book. When you see Jill Scott in an intimate setting she’s so warm that you nearly want to give her a hug, she commands your attention in such a way that you can barely look away and she’s exactly the same person she appears to be in her song. A lot of times when I’ve met celebrities, I realize they aren’t their persona and its always a little shocking…not that there is anything seriously wrong with having a public face and a private face. Its just that its not easy I think for most people, including myself at times, to tell the difference.

Anyway, listening to her read the poems had such an impact. The inflections of her voice moved me, the way her presence fills each line. It was completely amazing. When I went up to get the book signed, I quite literally went weak in the knees, smiled like a retard and could barely form a word. Though I’m not above being star struck it was quite the extreme reaction.

On the ride home that evening I opened the book and started reading the poems. Didn’t feel them at all, even a little bit. I waited a week or two, tried again. Nothing. Unimpressed.

Now I’ve given someone the signed copy of the book (it was an intended grad-school graduation present in 2005 that I forgot to take to the actual ceremony) and they’ve been aggressively trying to get me to admit that it is a dynamic work of poetry.

I wasn’t really having it. But today she sent me a few poems by IM. I read them. They were pretty great.

Looking back on my first analysis of the book I think that her presence was so domineering that it overshadowed the words. I use the word domineering, despite its negative connotation because I believe that it distracted from the quality of the words. Jill could read a recipe, the national enquirer, a grocery list and people would probably still listen in amazement. Reading them a second time they lost what seemed to be their most dynamic quality the Jill-ness. But I think seeing them again; they do have a right on their own terms. Separated from Jill, the words can stand alone and still be recognized as good.

One poem, then go buy the book:

he says
he says that i'm beautiful
but it's deeper than brothers
honkin horns
blowin kisses
buyin drinks
he says my beauty can be
seen even better with his eyes closed
every now and then
swears he can touch my beauty but he says
he's not worthy and he's glad i
can't see that
he says he likes my style
feminine with a little rugged
just enough lady mixed with ghetto chic and urban funk
he says i'm
powerful with poetry
they way i use ordinary words and make them sing
hums my songs
he says he knows me
favorite number -4
favorite color
- black
favorite juice - peach
favorite style - free
he says he
loves the way i make love
with my whole self
imploring, no, demanding he
do the same
he says that i constantly make myself new and better
loves that quality
and do i think that maybe one day possibly
i could
spend my life with him
he says he loves me
i say i'm just lucky and and
i'm glad
he can't see that

-jill scott

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