Sunday, January 3, 2010

Literary Commentary in Unexpected Places

Over the last year, I've gone from being pleasantly surprised by to looking forward to the occasional literary commentary on poems and rap lyrics by Ta-Nehisi Coates on his blog for The Atlantic. Coates is a journalist and author, but has become far more known as a blogger. He writes about a variety of news items, football, black culture and nationalism, politics, dungeons and dragons, and television shows, to name some of his recurring subjects.

But he also writes about poetry from time to time. In December, he published posts on Yusef Komunyakaa and commentary that highlights Lucille Clifton's poem "Love Rejected."

In a November post, he linked to a video of Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" and then discussed aspects of the rapper's "Follow the Leader" as a way of explaining how hip hop lyricists were offering him "basic lessons about writing, that stick with me to this day."

Coates' posts about poetry and rap lyrics draw just as much reader feedback as his posts about politics and football. It's a suggestion to me that more people than we usually think are interested in having discussions online about black literary art. And then, it also says that Coates and those of us who read his blog aren't limited to conventional discussions of literature.

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