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e-lit' flashback: The Boston T-1 Party

page 3, continued...

I've speculated on this cultural dovetailing between new media and poetry with griot roots, and believe that when we see this effect we're really looking at the shadow of history. The European tradition pushed poetry into print thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the printing press, and poetry performance atrophied. But the African tradition was obliged to function in the absence of print. The African Diaspora and the economic disenfranchisment of slavery made spoken word a preference if not an outright necessity. As the web came online, it proved it was able to absorb text, music, and motion pictures with nearly equal finesse, finally putting some hope before us that the American griot and others who perform their poetry would at last get a fairer and fuller reading.

Now, it's not my business to come here, before you, and presume to speak for Blacks in America. It's not my business to re-mediate such messages. But I think it is important to understand that the Digital Divide has at least one point where it can be breached, and breached well by artists who have something to say. And in the absence of much (if any) presence of griot-descended works, it is entirely important for those who can publish griot-descended works to do so, lest the opportunities to share this work be lost.

There's a lot of poetry in the world capable of migrating to the web and other electronic media in positive ways. If you take a census of the artists here at the T-1 Party, you'll see that we're white and mostly male. It behooves us as stewards of our media/literary enterprises to include people beyond our immediate group (and I make a point of that with e-poets network with regard to race, gender, preference, and generation). We enjoy advantages thanks to history, and we hope to make some history of our own with our work. I hope that this new history will be shared with people from all heritages.

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