The selected poems from over fifty years by the great poet and biographer and friend of Miles Davis. Quincy Troupe writes poetry in great waves. The words are just notes. It’s the music you make with them that matters. He’s not a wordsmith, he’s a shaman conjuring long repetitive lines, cadences of looking across the sea towards Africa and haunted by the legacy of slavery and racism, or of remembering fellow conjurers, poets and musical artists, celebrating, always celebrating, but never only that.
In the fifty-page, incantatory poem, Ghost Voices, there is a longing to be reconnected to the past, and a longing too to be free of it. In the short title poem, Duende: For Garc a Lorca and Miles Davis, there lies, nakedly, Troupe’s credo: …secrets, mystery infused in black magic / that enters bodies in forms of music, art/ poetry imbuing language with sovereignty / in blood spooling back through violent centuries… The version of the great poem Avalanche (number 3) that appears here is different from the version of the same poem he published nearly 25 years ago—in exactly the same way that a jazz artist picks up his horn to play the same song a little differently every time.
Troupe is a generous and gregarious poet in this giant offering that includes many new poems, as well as a selection chosen from across his eleven previously published volumes. What’s remarkable is the constancy, the energy, and how he’s always looking right at you in the here and now, and at the same time sees something over your shoulder that others don’t see yet, maybe a distant storm gathering over the waters, something we’re going to need to rise up and face soon enough.