We at SPD were sad to hear of the passing of brilliant musician, poet, performer, and teacher J. Otis Powell‽- we send love to the Twin Cities arts community, who has lost one of its best and most generous mentors. In honor of his passing, RAIN TAXI review of books has published an interview with the spoken word artist, available here
, in which Powell‽ speaks of the influence of the Black Arts Movement, activism and more.
"I still don't. I have a conception of myself as a citizen of the universe. I mean, don't fence me in, especially with geography or race or class, or any of that; I'm a citizen of the universe and I still don't know who I am or all that I am, and so other people's perceptions of me are always going to be limiting and misleading." - J Otis Powell‽
"In WAITING FOR A SPACESHIP, J. Otis Powell‽ pens a deep acknowledgement to both the pain of language and its potential for liberation. In these elegant and absorbing poems, Powell‽ plays soloist to a backdrop of jazz rhythm, capable of moving from the elegiac to the celebratory in one shift of tone, expressing the haunted nature of American life: "Ghosts hitch rides on bodies / move inside souls." The lyrical improvisation of his lines moves us simultaneously closer to moments of insight, haunting, and deliverance. "Ivory bones at the bottom of the Atlantic / Ghosts dance to water music nobody composed." To read WAITING FOR A SPACESHIP is to find deep recognition with openness and ferocity. His poems describe how the moment of poetic expression arrives in daily life at soul level. This is a poetry of necessity."