My Mind’s Dark Parties, Khariis Ubiaro
Eyewear, Lorgnette Series, 2017 £6.00
A man with a title
The opening poem in this set (I’m Still a Man’) flags its hip-hop tradition inside the first four lines:
12 Years proceeded and slavery still exists
a persistent pressure on my people so we dance for the whip
hop around get lean
society’s fractured our hip
You can feel the energy and swing of the phrasing right from the word go. This is the hip (-hop) rapping rhythms of a young man who gets high on rhyme, can make demands, can surge through pages, fire questions — ‘will you read my blood?’; ‘who’s really in charge here?’
I have to come clean. This is not my kind of thing — when it’s on the page. I need this in the here-and-now, with the man who made it standing there making the music, dishing out charisma.
And yet – what a corker of a title! My Mind’s Dark Parties. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. It evokes a whirlwind of connotations – the parties that are individuals (a certain ‘party’ has your number), the parties that are dance-and-drink, the parties that are parts of the mind, the energy of gleaming black skins, the beauty of black, the darkness of fear, the darkness of the human mind.
And then the actual title poem — ‘My Mind’s Dark Party’ — is the shortest in the book, just three lines (see below). It’s a curious little piece, not at all like the rest:
there is beauty in death
changing states, passing through this life into the next
souls changing, passing through liberal matter
That’s it. All of it. It’s almost as though the poet, the rapper, is just about to set off on a chatty excursus about his life and preoccupations, about to move on to something that rhymes with ‘matter’. But he stops. Lets silence move in.
And why ‘liberal’ matter? It seems such a strange word to use there — strange, but interesting.
Oh hell, this poet can dance. He can sing. He has a soul, and he has soul. He can channel energy through language. He can come up with a stunning title for his first group of poems. He’s on his way.