DJ Renegade (Joel Dias-Porter) was born and raised in Pgh. PA. He is of Cape Verdean descent on his mother's side (Fogo). After High School he enlisted in the USAF. After leaving the service he became a professional disk jockey, in the DC area. In 1991 he quit his job and began living in homeless shelters, while undergoing an extensive Afrocentric study program. He also began to write poetry, and participate in Poetry Slams. In 1994-8 he competed in the National Poetry Slam finishing 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd in the individual competition, and he is the 1998 Haiku Slam Champion. His poems have been published in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Callaloo, Obsidian II, Underwood Review, Paterson Literary Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Red Brick Review, the GW Review, and in the anthologies Meow:Spoken Word from the Black Cat, 360 Degrees of Black Poetry, Slam(The Book), Revival: Spoken Word from Lollapallooza, Poetry Nation, Beyond the Frontier, Catch a Fire, and The Black Rooster Social Inn: Poetry and Art of the Black Rooster Collective, which he also edited. In 1995 he received the Furious Flower "Emerging Poet Award" from James Madison Univ. He has performed his work on the "Today" show, in a commercial for Legal Jeans, in the documentaries "Voices Against Violence", and SlamNation, on BET's Teen Summit, and in the feature film "Slam" which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, and the Camera D'Or and Audience Awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998. Currently at work on a book of poems about the Cape Verdean-American experience, and a CD of jazz and poetry titled "A Desperate Wrestling of Tongues", he is informally educated, and a member of WritersCorps DC.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
INACEOI am a simple man.
(for Paul Gonsalves)
What's it like SEPTEMBER IN PLYMOUTH THE TREE SPEAKS
to be called out of your name
your whole adult life.
Have people think Speedy Gonzalez,
sombreros and siestas.
Christen you "Mex".
What do they know
of Cabo Verde or canja. Cape Verde/chicken soup
They think your name
carries the mark of Zorro.
They never question why
you can translate in Brazil.
They don't know the difference
between S and Z is
more than the difference
between A sharp and B flat.
That just like there's more
than one fingering for B flat,
there can be more than one tongue
in a black man's mouth.
They don't know Mornas melancholy song
are the Blues in Kriolu, Portuguese Creole
that we weave panu for kente, trad. cloth
sing Kola boi for worksongs, worksongs
crumble cuz cuz for cornbread, steamed corn meal
pick cranberries instead of cotton.
All they know is you carved up
"Mutton Leg" with Basie
and could quote note for note
from Webster's dictionary of solos.
But tonight, at the Newport Jazz Festival
you step out from big Ben's shadow.
Rise for your solo with a Koladera uptempo song
in the curve of your horn.
Transforming into Sweet Daddy Grace,
you preach hard enough to be heard
all the way home in Pawtucket.
They say "Jesus could walk on water,
but only Paul Gonsalves
could walk on sour mash".
Now your head bobs
like the schooner Ernestina in rough seas.
For six whole minutes
choruses cloud the horizon,
as a hurricane boils
from your saxophone's bell.
After your thunderous sermon,
silver applause showers.
You look into the darkness
hear all the Bravas saying Obrigado. Cape Verdeans/Thank You
They know a sax ain't nothing but a trapixe sugar cane press
emotions nothing but raw cane.
Know you pressed your lips on the reed,
squeezing out fluid riffs,
to distill the rum of our sweet inebriation
in the brass tubing of your tenor.
Duke knew how to spell your name,
knew the difference between S and Z.
That's why he picked a "Passion Flower" for you.
Why nine days after you broke down
your horn for the last time,
Ellington closed the cover
of his piano
I stoop in this bog under a broad-brimmed hat
combing nappy vines with a wooden scoop,
picking cranberries until my hands cramp.
A chill seeps through the cuz cuz colored sand, steamed corn meal
through padding in the knees of my coveralls.
Ana Barbosa, the pride of her village,
sings Sodade in a clear voice traditional song
blue as the stripes of a panu. woven cloth
Her bundled up baby giggles as Manuel,
who left a wife and two kids back in Brava,
slowly wheelbarrows a tan volcano of sand.
The fat manager barks at him
with a tongue saltier than bacalhau. salted codfish
The hands of the clock seem to circle
slow as burros around a sugar cane press. donkeys
Some of us dream of the old country
and waves white as soap suds
breaking over curving brown beaches.
The berries plink into metal pails
and spill from stacked wooden boxes.
A cardinal's colors on a nearby branch
turn the fruit tart with envy.
Two blue jays argue over who picks the quickest.
Crushed cranberries stain my pants,
the sun glares at my sweating back.
My spine stiffens like a rusty hinge
as twisted vines scrape skin from my fingers.
But if I pick fast and live lean,
I can save enough to outlast winter
and even fatten a letter home.
So I crawl on all fours,
cachupa heavy as stone in my stomach, traditional stew
scooping berries round as precious coins
until I can no longer feel my purple knees.
riding the breath of the Sahara.
Now my roots are wrapped around
the heart of this island
with no rivers or lakes.
Here in this stoneyard
surrounded by thirsty dirt,
I am holy,
the only green for miles.
Some people think the East Wind
bends my spine at this angle.
They see a child searching for stones to throw,
a woman bending to harvest yams,
or a man stooped by years of work,
but I'm just leaning back,
scanning the sky for rain.
Once, a man helping build the dyke
sat in my shade to rest,
his back glistening with sweat.
I reached a branch down
and licked his arm,
it was salty as seawater.
At night I reach for rocks
to repair the dyke.
Because when it rains again,
waves will rage down
and must be guided
to keep them from carrying
all the soil to the sea.
Although my bark
is parched as the earth around me,
I stay green.
I know the deep places
where water hides
and I have learned to sip slow.
SEPTEMBER IN PLYMOUTHAn Indian summer breeze paints the leaves,
THE TREE SPEAKSI arrived as a seed,