Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

I, Too, at the Beginning

I am the early Black Beat
I read with some of the
Best Beat minds
When the Apple was Beat Generating
I lived in Greenwich Village
I was there
Where I read poems and painted poetry
Whilst worthy constituents
Dwelled elsewhere
It was me/myself/and I
Who created the original
I wailed & wailed
In coffee shops wayback when
Especially on lucrative weekends
I read to tourists and squares
I wanted to change and transform
The minds of conventional Americans

At the beginning
There were only
Three darker brothers
Born Beat and hipper-than-thou
Kaufman/Jones & Joans
Amongst the white beatniks
Who had big publishers
But little bank accounts
Nevertheless I confess
We, three Black Beats had neither

Yet we, like Crispus Attucks
Were right there
At the beginning
But big bread publishers
Ignored us and
Even "established" small press
Made harmful fun or shunned us
We were "invisible men"
As Ellison had said
Invisible on Beat West Coast
Invisible to on the best East Coast
Institutional racism is
Amongst the Beats
Merely "benign neglect"
Nonetheless I still confess
We, three, also swung America

Written by Ted Joans (1928-2003)


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge