Thomas Sayers Ellis’s poem “Polo Goes to the Moon”—an elegy for the bounce-beat go-go music pioneer Reggie Burwell—appeared in The Paris Review No. 209 earlier this year. Now he’s recorded a spoken-word version in “Amiri’s Green Chim Chim-knees Growth Tribe,” part of a tribute to Amiri Baraka to be released next year by Heroes Are Gang Leaders. Give it a listen above.
After Baraka died in January, Ellis and his frequent collaborator James Brandon Lewis formed Heroes Are Gang Leaders, a group of poets and musicians. They recorded the album over three six-hour sessions. Ellis calls it “a signifying groove head-nod to Mr. Baraka,” influenced by Thelonious Monk and A Tribe Called Quest.
The text of “Polo Goes to the Moon” is below. Read More
Amiri Baraka died today, at seventy-nine; The Paris Review had the pleasure of publishing several of his poems. Baraka wrote “Pres Spoke a Language” to celebrate the jazz saxophonist Lester Young, but one could just as easily apply its eulogy to the poet himself:
had a language
and a life, like,
all his own,
but in the teeming whole of us he lived
tooting on his sideways horn