April 30, 2004

No Images by Waring Cuney

No Images by Waring Cuney

She does not know
Her beauty,
She thinks her brown body
Has no glory.
If she could dance
Under palm trees
And see her image in the river,
She would know.

But there are no palm trees
On the street,
And dish water gives back no images.

I was thinking about using a poem by Langston Hughes whose poetry I've read countless times. But I figured that there'd be tons of bloggers who'd use him. Then I thought about posting a poem from a former Hunter College classmate, Tracie Morris, but I think much of her work has to be heard and experienced in person to really get it. That reminded me of probably my favorite young poet, Willie Perdomo who provides a CD of himself reading his poetry. Then I remembered that Saul Williams has an intriguing, powerful new book-length poem. But it's book length and I wanted to post an entire poem, not just an excerpt. That's why I couldn't post my favorite Jessica Care Moore poem, "Black Statue of Liberty."

When James posted about participating in P.O.Y.B. Day, I suggested he post a poem that was turned into a song. That's when I knew I had to post "No Images" by Cuney. His most well-known poem has been performed by several artist, probably most notably by Nina Simone (the song is entitled "Images."). However, I first heard it as a song by Sweet Honey in the Rock. That was my introduction to not only the song (and by extension, the poem), but to this fantastic group.

Once I read the lyrics and realized it was a poem, I found an old copy of Cuney's poems somewhere and was saddened by my ignorance of someone considered a notable poet of the Washington (D.C.) New Negro Movement. It still saddens me to see so many girls of color who 've yet to realize that they're naturally beautiful and don't need others' images to fit in.

Special Note: Don't forget that starting tomorrow, May is Project Apollonia Month.

Posted by ronn at April 30, 2004 12:07 AM


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"No Images" is an exquisite, haunting piece. In my mind, it's linked to Countee Cullen's "Incident" -- not because of its content -- probably because I first read them both at about the same time. I chose June Jordan's "Poem About My Rights" and then -- with some trepidation -- posted my own poetic eulogy to her, "A Poem Against the End of June (Jordan). By the way, I like the "riddims" and colors in the samples of your own work that you posted. Posted by: Kim Pearson on April 30, 2004 01:21 PM
Very nice!!! Posted by: James on April 30, 2004 02:58 PM