Monday, March 24, 2008

What Is Soul-II-Soul?

There is about four or five weeks left in the semester, and I have three 8-10 page papers to finish within that time; and not-to-mention a Spanish composition, presentation and final exam. And, while I was poised to graduate in December, I’ve decided to stick around for one more semester to try and increase my grade point average just a little more. I’m hoping this move will help increase my chances for getting into graduate school. Besides, I’ve been pursuing a college degree since I graduated in 1981, one more semester won’t kill me…(or at least, I hope it won’t).

So, meanwhile, I’m thinking about my trip to London coming up in May, and wondering how I should spend my free time while I’m there. For this two-week trip, I’ll receive three semester hours, so tours, theatre, reading a novel, and some class time will count as course work. But, evenings and weekends we’ll be on our own. One of those weekends, I’m certain will be spent in Paris (or possibly Venice but, I’d prefer Paris). And, I’ve been online checking out jazz spots: Jazz Café, 606 Club and maybe Spitz. And, then I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to see Jazzie B and Soul-2-Soul perform in some, cozy joint in London?

And, whatever happened to Soul-2-Soul anyway? And, Caron Wheeler…and Carl McIntosh with Loose Ends? Y'all remember "Keep on Moving", Wheeler's "I Adore You", and "Hangin' On a String".

This is why I love the internet. It turns out that all three of these 80’s, British R&B hipsters have MySpace pages. And, though I don’t think Loose Ends is still performing (hit me up, if you know different), it just so happens that Jazzie B will be performing at Jazz Café twice while I’m in London town. If I can make that set, it alone might just be worth the trip.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Lady Mary

Lady Mary Wroth is credited with being the first woman to publish a sonnet sequence, and an impressive one it is. Unless you've majored in English or Literature, chances are you haven't heard of her. Yet, during the Renaissance, her sonnets, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, gave insight into a woman's heart and creativity. I sometimes wonder, if when I first read Wroth's sonnets without knowing she was a woman, is there a way to tell from simply reading them that the writer is female? Here are a couple of her sonnets, see if you can tell.

When night's blacke Mantle could most darknesse proue,
And sleepe (deaths Image) did my senses hyre,
From Knowledge of my selfe, then thoughts did moue
Swifter then those, most [switnesse] neede require. swiftnesse
In sleepe, a Chariot drawne by wing'd Desire,
I saw; where sate bright Venus Queene of Loue,
And at her feete her Sonne, still adding Fire
To burning hearts, which she did hold aboue,
But one heart flaming more then all the rest,
The Goddesse held, and put it to my breast,
Deare Sonne now [shut] , said she: thus must we winne; shutt (shoot)
He her obey'd, and martyr'd my poore heart.
I waking hop'd as dreames it would depart,
Yet since, O me, a Lover I haue beene.


Poore Loue in chaines, and fetters like a thiefe
I mett ledd forth, as chast Diana's gaine
Vowing the vntaught Lad should no reliefe
From her receiue, who gloried in fond paine.
She call'd him theife; with vowes he did mainetaine
He neuer stole, but some sadd slight of griefe
Had giuen to those who did his power disdaine,
In which reuenge, his honour was the chiefe.
Shee say'd he murther'd and therefor must dye,
He that he caus'd but Loue, did harmes deny,
But, while she thus discoursing with him stood;
The Nymphes vnti'de him, and his chaines tooke off,
Thinking him safe; but he (loose) made a scoffe,
Smiling and scorning them; flew to the wood.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Renaissance Ideas of Blackness

When I started a Renaissance Literature class this semester, I didn’t expect the luxury of viewing it (or having it presented to me) from a black woman’s perspective. After all, we are talking about Shakespeare, Lady Mary Wroth and George Herbert, right? Well, Kim Hall’s book Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England is a fascinating and thorough examination of the black/white dichotomy in seventeenth century British society, in particular, its literature and art. If you’ve ever wondered about the issues of race and gender during this time in history but didn’t know where to read about it, this is an excellent place to start.

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