Friday, July 20, 2007

long story short

When I worked for one of the big B bookstores, I learned to hate many things. Two of these were "spoken-word" poetry performances and authors. I also learned to appreciate the experiences that inspired me to question the prejudices I was developing.
Part of my job for awhile was to be the liaison for author appearances. It was frequently astonishing to see little-known, moderately succesful, or out-and-out unknown authors all behaving as though they were J.D. Freakin' Salinger and we should be turning the world upside down for them because they'd managed to bamboozle someone into putting their words between covers. Author appearances were often arranged with little lead time, and there seemed to be a reverse correlation between the success of an author and the level of gluteal osculation they required.
What can I say about "spoken-word", or "performance poetry"? I think we can all admit that I can be forgiven for painting that genre with a broad "it sucks" brush.
Sometimes, though, it's nice to be proven wrong about things.
One of these last-minute author appearances involved a poet named Sekou Sundiata. I actually looked forward to this, as I'd taken home a promo cassette thinking that it might be worth a good laugh and was surprised to find witty, unpretentious, fresh and engaging performance poetry! I figured, though, that he'd be some kind of diva and would complain about the last minute set-up we'd arranged for him.
Mr. Sundiata was, instead, very grateful for our modest accomodations and was just a very warm, genuine guy all around. A pleasure to deal with and a great talent.
So I am saddened that he has left us. Some of my friends (and enemies I suppose) are of the opinion that I hate to be wrong. Sometimes, this is not the case. Thank you sir, and rest in peace.


zeebah said...

Oh no. That's terrible. We had one of his cds, probably from around that time period... I have no idea where it came from, but we really enjoyed it.

brent said...

Dude, he taught at Eugene Lang, where I and many people you know were undergrads. He was, as you'd imagine, a favorite of the students - smart, super nice guy, and always bringing in friends from the BRC. He was one of the good ones.