Thursday, March 11, 2010


A Kwansaba is a 49-word poetic form created by Eugene B. Redmond, along with assistance from members of the the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club, in 1995. A kwansaba contains seven lines with no more than seven words in each line, and each word is less than seven letters. Proper nouns and some terms for different languages are exceptions to the seven-letter rule.

The word "kwansaba" is derived from "Kwanazaa," the African American holiday founded in 1966 by Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa, a seven-letter, focuses on and celebrates seven principles Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith) over the course of seven days from December 26 to January 1.

In an interview, Redmond explained
We, members of the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club, being a community-based unit, wanted to express the origins and principles of kwanzaa—and Black Culture—via an aesthetic system with poetry at the center. Hence, the kwansaba which allows us to promote an “original” AA poetic form and celebrate the principles of kwanzaa through the “kwansaba candle lighting ritual.” Aware that the Arabic numeral “seven” has many meanings and implications for African peoples and others the world over—seven wonders, “seventh son” of DuBois—we think deeply about the astrological, numerological, and spiritual associations of “seven.” Numerous examples of the kwansaba are found throughout Drumvoices Revue nos. 11, 12, and 13.

No comments: