Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Be What You Are"

I really don't know what made me pull this album from the shelf and put it on the turn table today but it was an inspired choice. Nostalgia has taken me back to the Staple Singers 1973 album, Be What You Are. Despite racial strife, the Vietnam war, and the "Cold War" the mood I remember from my childhood was largely upbeat and optimistic. Not sure how much of that is due to personal circumstances, and how much is due to musicians like these.

It's hip to be cynical because it's safe. Afterall, people always disappoint. No surprise there. But the art, whether literary or musical, that drew me in as a girl and still does today is never about tearing down. A poet I knew in graduate school once told me she couldn't do that "epiphany thing." Apparently, I can do nothing else. To each her own.

My epiphany of the day is that even though I'm about as far from a gospel singer as you can get, when I'm writing poetry one of the voices in the back of my mind is Mavis Staples. I couldn't ask for better company.

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