Until a week ago I had never heard of a Kwansaba. Seven lines of seven words consisting of no more than seven letters. I’ve written Sestinas and Sonnets and Haikus, but even the idea of a Kwansaba – as far as I know – has never settled in front of my eyes.
When my mind is ready to walk,
I Sway and breathe to the words:
Wright, Baldwin, Hughes, Larsen, Toomer, and Dubois.
I pen notes, scribble words on paper
and hope, somehow my thoughts and jots
will help capture the weight of theirs.
Here, Ran Walker has done just that.
Ran Walker’s newest collection, Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps (University of Hell Press), features seven sections of Kwansaba praise style poetry about life, family, fears, and experiences through music, art, and literature. Don’t let the idea of “praise” poetry fool you. This is not a book of odes to trees and urns, but rather a look at how life changes because of what has been written and lived and loved so much through music and life and family.
Walker gives us our “Window Seat” to the world, as we consider why we are where we are – the good and the bad, the understood and ignorant, the anger and excitement, the love and passion of the way the world is today. It speaks of how Baldwin’s words told us that “pain is nothing new, that our Black will always be blue like Sonny. Or how he would “no longer [be] Cassius, who betrays his brother,” but rather “elevate as Ali, greater within myself….”.
Pick up your copy of Ran Walker’s Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps from University of Hell Press.