Alan King and I (Kadija) read together on my last tour date of Irki in Washington DC on 13 April at The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum organised and promoted by SABLE Contributing and BBP editor, Koye Oyedeji , his wife Montré Missouri, Alan King, and his wife Tosin.
Yet I’d met Alan some years before and knew of him through other DC events, places and spaces from Busboys and Poets to Duke Ellington School; he sent some poems in to SABLE to publish – which we liked – but we were just moving into thematising each issue, so I’m really glad that at long last we are featuring him instead as a successfully published poet with an insightful and thought provoking collection of work.
Alan’s first full collection of poetry, DRIFT is full of poignant detail, capturing the eternal questions that pop into our heads so often. After awhile, I found myself searching for the ‘eternal’ in each poem.
Sometimes it comes in a metaphor
…But I don’t know what to call
this moment–two linebacker-
sized men in a public display
(A Question of Brotherhood, p. 64)
sometimes it comes in an ‘unspoken’ scene that unwittingly bonds people of African descent
will anything make this right
again – the gift cards
or the cashier’s apology
after waving the receipt,
explaining she forgot to
disarm the anti-theft device?
And in other moments when love seems to make no sense….
…And why does it always
come down to the final proposition,
as if life had a limit on possibilities?
(Proposition, p. 82)
Yet throughout the reading of his poems, he tugs at you, to gently drift in the direction of meditative thought. (you know when you do that ‘Mmm’ thing at the end of a poem after a reading!) Potomac fever burns throughout this book – the impact of Washington DC on this proud resident is evident – yet realism prevails.
Charmed in December
Weather warm enough to confuse
the seasons, like a man mixing up
the names of his lovers.
And a salacious vibe
pulses in the wet air –
The swoosh of wind like a blown
kiss from glossy lips; or the laughter
of a woman with a childhood urge
to climb trees. She mistook me
for an elm, tugging at my limbs
with a smile.
“The Hourglass Flow” artist newsletter
13 April event