“Bird Read Beckett,” a poem by Erren Kelly

January 21st, 2014

In anticipation of our very soon-to-be-published interview with Charlie Parker biographer Stanley Crouch (see the preview below), poet Erren Kelly defends Parker from the caricature portrayed in Clint Eastwood’s 1989 film Bird.  


birdjan21

Bird Read Beckett


bird read samuel beckett

he read novels and plays
he lived his life as one long
exstitential episode
he prided himself on being
intellectual
bird loved his fried chicken
and preferred his gin
to go down smooth
like his solos

mr. eastwood,
take that lie back
and apologize!

if charlie parker was
psychotic
it was only because america
made him that way
bird refused to live in
the boxes
people put him in

every time i listen to a
bird cd
i’m helping charlie parker
take back his genius
from the syringe

everyone knows a prophet
is rarely welcomed
in own land

About Erren Kelly


“I am a poet based in Chicago, by way of Louisiana, by way of Maine, by way of California,by way of New York City and so on. I have been writing for 21 years and have over three dozen publications in print and online in such publications as Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine (online) and other publications. My most recent publication was in “In Our Own Words,” a Generation X poetry anthology. I was also published in other anthologies such as “Fertile Ground,” Beyond The Frontier” and other anthologies.

_________

From our soon-to-be-published interview, Charlie Parker biographer Stanley Crouch talks about how he first conceived of Kansas City Lightning:  The Life and Times of Charlie Parker

*

JJM In the acknowledgement section of your book you wrote, “I can reconnect with my entire family, all of my neighborhoods, everything I’ve ever done or imagined, whenever I hear any jazz band heat up and ‘put the pots on,’ showing how well it can struggle for joy together. No art says ‘I want to live’ better or more forcefully than jazz. From the whisper, to the mysteriously artful noise, to the exultant and affirmative cry or scream, ever unwilling to be held down, every page of this book is a testament to that.”  In addition to being a terrific biography of a historic musician, this book seemed like a very personal endeavor — a labor of love. When did you first conceive of this book?

SC I began to conceive it after Clint Eastwood — whom I respect and admire as a director in more cases than not — made what I felt was an extremely bad movie called Bird, in which I didn’t see the Charlie Parker whom I knew of or had heard of. I saw Forest Whitaker playing Charlie Parker, and I saw an actress playing Chan Parker in a role of importance far beyond what she actually had in life. In fact, when I did interview Chan the story she told about herself and Charlie Parker was much heavier than the one that they had on the screen, which was the story of the unfortunate woman captured in a marriage with a guy who is a heroin addict, which was definitely true, but she told me many things about Charlie Parker that were not in the film or in the screenplay perhaps — and these were things that wouldn’t have taken long to communicate to you but they weren’t there.

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