Saturday, November 7, 2015
10 years reading Leadbelly, Pt. 4: Those multiple voices
When I was thinking of lists of volumes of poetry over the last ten years, Tyehimba Jess's Leadbelly (2005) was often in the mix. The book was/is a gateway to so many other works. But beyond connecting to various other works, Leadbelly stands out to me because of its intra-connective qualities.
Jess's book contains more than 20 characters, including Leadbelly, his mother, his guitar, John Lomax (his one-time handler), Cab Calloway, and various others who had contact with the musician or his music. We hear from inanimate objects like a street, a guitar, a recording machine, and a song. We listen in on Leadbelly at different moments in this life.
This book is the result of a talented and determined poet taking on multiple personas.
• 10 years reading Leadbelly, Pt. 5: Eady, Jess, and Matejka
• A crown of blog entries for Leadbelly: project overview
• 10 years reading Leadbelly, Pt. 3: In the mix