A Hunger Called Music
(a verse history of black music)
by Meredith Nnoka
***2016 WINTER SOUP BOWL SELECTION***
Borrowing from such sources as archival recordings and news stories, A Hunger Called Music documents the early history of African-American music beginning with work songs and ending with Motown-era soul. Using each genre’s historical context and the music itself as inspiration, the poems in the chapbook take on a range of voices and stories from Robert Johnson to Nina Simone, and from a white 1950s record producer to a witness to police brutality. In doing so, the poems work to unearth the commonalities of experience between previous eras and the current one through the intergenerational constant of music.
A LOOK INSIDE
As published in The Massachusetts Review:
Our Business is making music
white enough to cover
even the deepest blues.
We steal to earn our keep.
We pull up troublesome roots
& reconstitute meaning
from a song’s skeletal frame.
This is how music becomes echo:
What we don’t gut, we bury.
What we don’t bury, we bleach
then iron, shred then darn, until
the song no longer knows itself.