Monday, June 29, 2015
Notes from Poet Neal Hall, MD, in Hyderabad, India
Yesterday, I had the honor of being invited to speak before 46 members (40 men, 6 women; 30 of whom represent the governing body) of the African Student Association of Hyderabad, India. asa-telangana.org
The talk ( 20 minutes) and Q&A went on for four hours straight.
The 46 individuals represented 16 African countries to include: Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Republic of The Congo, Uganda, Yemen.
The Association is 5,000 members strong representing numerous African Countries with students attending universities in the greater Hyderabad area. The organization was created, in large part, to establish a united front and mutual support against racism and discrimination African students are experiencing at the hands of Indians during their studies in India.
It was absolutely an amazing experience for all involved.
Marvin X and Neal Hall, MD, at Sacramento Black Book Fair
Comment from Vasanth Kannabiran:
Listening to Neal Hall for the first time was an experience. The dispassionate description of what it still means to be black was breathtaking. Hall’s poetry shocks you to the core sets you beating your breast and gasping with rage while he reads on calm and matter of fact. Reading and rereading his poems again gives you a glimpse of the range of betrayal and shock that blackness carries on its back.
Halls poems shock and transform your understanding. Black poetry, Feminist poetry and Dalit poetry also reveal the gamut of emotions, the rage, betrayal and invisibility that tear down the veils here. What is significant about this poet is that while relentlessly, brutally hammering at the boundaries that define black he stands aside calmly to let his words speak. Prophetically. It is difficult to reconcile the poet, patient and calm, fielding questions, detached and dispassionate, untouched by the lava that pours out of his pen. His poems Veneer, Dr. Nigger are masterpieces that need several readings to unravel the intricately knotted weave to reach the core of his truth. When he says I have given you my soul, leave me my name your heart skips a beat. And when he says I want to be someone who does not want to be any more you choke. And the short walk to freedom stretches to infinity. This is poetry that scalds you into waking up to the possibility that you are perhaps one of those silent spectators. All in all he is a poet. And unquestionably one of the most significant voices of the century.
Vasanth Kannabiran, Nobel Nominee, Writer, Chairperson, Culture, Asmita Resource Centre for Women, Hyderabad, India