Duende: Poems, 1966–Now

Seven Stories. Jan. 2022. 656p. pap. ISBN 9781644210468. $24.95; ISBN 9781644210451. $50. POETRY
“Duende…/ we have one to another, each to each,/ these blessed gifts we share as in breathing.” An award-winning poet, biographer of his friend Miles Davis, and spoken-word performer with jazz musicians, associated with the Black Arts Movement, Troupe here offers a behemoth of a book spanning nearly six decades while also including new work. With 11 volumes of poetry to his credit, he continues to “paint flames against the night/the changing music liberates itself,/ as in blood-felt rhythm/ as in heart-felt rhythm/ the genius of the singing.” It is indeed the genius of his singing that places Troupe as a troubadour of his generation. His lines are often Whitmanesque in their expansiveness, their scope, and their depth, whether he’s writing about the heritage of slavery and continued racism, the glories of jazz (particularly Miles Davies and John Coltrane), prominent figures like Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson, or fellow poets living and dead. To Troupe, poetry “become[s] a kind of reordering/ inside fury of a storm, is a form,/ perhaps…like the way a painter re-imagines a canvas,/ a musician re-invents a solo,/ a politician changing what they meant/ right before our disbelieving eyes.”
VERDICT A highly recommended work from a master poet.
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