Ishmael Reed: Watermill Guest Lecturer

Ishmael Reed Reads from Poetry, Old and New


A scientist says that
Crows can recognize
Human faces
He released those
He?d tested in labs
They?d harass him
Whenever he took
A walk
I guess that's why crows
Don't talk to
Me any more
Strolling along the path
Of the Emeryville Marina
We used
To be good buddies
They'd do three caws
And I would do three
And then they
Would do four caws and
I'd respond with four

But now they're silent
I must have said the
Wrong thing
I guess they're on to me
I guess they're saying among
There goes that fellow
Who thinks he's one of

I never got as close to
A crow as Marlyse
Her mother bought
Gustav for five Swiss francs
He used to follow her
To school, 
And would perch on a
Tree outside her
He'd stand on her
Shoulder when she
Went horseback riding

Her step father
And brothers hated Gustav
When he flew into their
Bedroom window, the
Brothers smothered him with
Linen and laughed as he
After that, the brothers
Were objects of his furious
He'd tear out their hair
He crow-sacked the kitchen 
Broke dishes
Cover himself with
When Marlyse returned from
Catholic school 
She found that the step father
Had shot the crow

She never forgave him

Ishmael Reed
July 10, 2009

Ishmael Reed has been nominated for a National Book Award in poetry, and in 2007 received the Gold Medal for Poetry from the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco for his "New and Collected Poetry, 1964-2006." He is also a songwriter and in 2008, received an award for Blues song writer of the year from the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame. In addition to reading from his poetry, he will show Mary Wilson of The Supremes performing a song of his and Taj Mahal singing one of his songs from a CD that will be released in November. A poem written in Seattle in 1969, "Beware: Do Not Read This Poem," has been cited by the Gale Research Company as "one of the approximately 20 poems that teachers and librarians have identified as the most frequently studied in literature courses."

Photograph courtesy Tennessee Reed


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