So Many Books, So Little Time
By: Haki R. Madhubuti
Frequently during my mornings of pain & reflection
when I can’t write
or articulate my thoughts
or locate the mindmusic needed
to complete the poems & essays
that are weeks plus days overdue
forcing me to stop, I cease
answering my phone, eating right, running my miles,
reading my mail, and making love.
(Also, this is when my children do not seek me out
because I do not seek them out.)
I escape north, to the nearest library or used bookstore.
They are my retreats, my quiet energy-givers, my intellectual refuge.
For me it is not bluewater beaches, theme parks,
or silent chapels hidden among forest greens.
Not multi-stored American malls, corporate book
supermarkets, mountain trails, or Caribbean hideaways.
My sanctuaries are liberated lighthouses of shelved books,
featuring forgotten poets, unread anthropologists of tenure-
seeking assistant professors, self-published geniuses, remaindered
first novelists, highlighting speed-written bestsellers,
wise historians & theologians, nobel, pulitzer prize, and american book
award winners, poets & fiction writers, overcertain political commentators,
small press wunderkinds & learned academics.
All are vitamins for my slow brain & sidetracked spirit in this
winter of creating.
I do not believe in smiling politicians, AMA doctors,
zebra-faced bankers, red-jacketed real estate or automobile
salespeople, or singing preachers.
I believe in books.
It can be conveniently argued that knowledge,
not that which is condensed or computer packaged, but
pages of hard-fought words, dancing language
meticulously & contemplatively written by the likes of me & others,
shelved imperfectly at the level of open hearts & minds,
is preventive medicine strengthening me for the return to my
clear pages of incomplete ideas to be reworked, revised &
written as new worlds and words in all of their subjective
configurations to eventually be processed into books that
will hopefully be placed on the shelves of libraries, bookstores, homes,
& other sanctuaries of learning to be found & browsed over by receptive
booklovers, readers & writers looking for a retreat,
looking for departure & yes spaces,
looking for open heart surgery without the knife.
About the Author:
(Excerpt is taken from; https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/haki-madhubuti)
Madhubuti has published more than 36 books, including Think Black (1967); Black Pride (1968); Don’t Cry, Scream (1969); and We Walk the Way of the New World (1970). His poetry and essays have been selected for more than 100 anthologies. His book, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The African American Family in Transition (1991), sold more than 100,000 copies. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have recognized his poetry, and he has won the American Book Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Prize in poetry for Liberation Narratives (2009). His latest book, Taught By Women: Poems as Resistance Language, New and Selected (2020), pays homage to the women who influenced him. Madhubuti is a recipient of the 2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.