NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2015 Volume 15.2 - Page 147

One day, while jogging on a street that was notorious for its wicked ways, John was accosted and shot; he was all right, though he did have to take a serious vacation and reevaluate his existence. Toby Hopkins was brought to the workshop by Harry Dolan to maintain peace in the workshop; there was a widening split between the young bards and the older people who kept insisting that the militancy of the young bards would make white folks angry. The young poets, of course, didn’t give a fuck about white people’s sensibilities; they continued to blast whitey every chance they got. Toby was neither an old man, nor a boy. They hired him to organize the poets and keep them in line, so to speak. When the workshop sent a team of poets to do a poetry reading at Stanford University, Toby was the chaperon. It was a huge audience that night at Stanford because the school was hosting a national Black student alliance conference. The wide-eyed audience was tailor made for the scorching words the poets had put on paper. Now Toby thought of himself as a profound bard and he wanted to try his hand on this big audience. He had observed how the other poets kept the audience on the edge of their seats with their dramatic poems. Obviously his oversized ego put him in an awkward position. He stood there on the stage, staring out at the big audience and nearly fainted — he simply froze on the spot. His poem was really kinky; it was about him touching his penis. It was totally out of sync with the black militancy of the revolutionary sixties. The audience of Black students silently listened to his poetry at first, but his offensive onanistic metaphors insulted the audience and they began to yell invectives at the highly embarrassed poet. Charlene Grant caused heads to rotate abruptly when she walked through the doors of the workshop one Wednesday night. She was comely, gorgeous, and instantly raised the libido of the men around her. She was a very good writer and poet. Her poems were not the combustions of hurt and rage like the inflamed poetry of the young, black revolutionary poets who came to the workshop. Articulating her own poems to a group of attentive young cats, who all were drawn to her like iron fillings to a magnet, gave her a sense of power that she had never experienced in her home state of Texas. When she heard about the Watts Writers Workshop, she was convinced that California would play a significant role in her destiny as a writer. Her premonition was on target; she fitted right in from the start. John Evans was a jovial and husky man wearing a safari vest as he entered the workshop for the first time. He was from Jamaica and an outgoing hustler. John was constantly exploring vibrant black social movements in search for juicy stories. He was a cinematographer and wanted to make a movie about the young poets. John really enjoyed hanging out at the house on Beach Street with the visionary young poets; he was often joined by Heidi, his German wife, and their lovely daughter. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE Ojenke Reading. 145 k When the workshop sent a contingent of poets to a cultural event, Charlene’s presence added a graceful, nice touch to an otherwise angry circle of young black militant male poets. She charmed her listeners with her gentle and lyrical recitation of her thought provoking creations. She had romance in her loins and this was exhibited non stop in the great metaphors contained in her poetry. One day she came to the workshop, laughing, as she held hands with her new guy; the reason everybody was astonished was that the cat holding hands with her was the lousiest poet in the workshop, Toby Hopkins! This turned out to be a very strange relationship. Toby turned out to be the epitome of jealousy; he was a control freak who inspected her notebooks and interrogated her extensively about her associates, particularly about the boys. He objected to her working with “Sapphire Streaking,” a group of female poets, which he thought was a bitches brew of controversy. His method of preventing Charlene from keeping company with “Sapphire Streaking” was to literally imprison her in a room of the duplex he rented in Pasadena. When Charlene cried out for help she was rescued by an incredulous team of young poets from the workshop. Toby was tall and solidly built, and yet he was not particularly keen about getting into a fight with a squad of the young bards from the Watts Writ ers Workshop. Without putting up a fight or argument, he stood silently by as his abused girlfriend packed her things and rode off into the sunset with the contingent of young poets who had come to her rescue.