Spoon recently wrote the introduction for Fury Young's debut poetry book, "Meat & Milk." Young is the producer of "Die Jim Crow," a concept album about racism in the U.S. prison system, which Spoon is a contributing artist to. Read Spoon's introduction below and buy a copy of "Meat & Milk" here.
I met this cat, this poet Fury Young, through my poetry mentor Judith Tannenbaum. I'd met Judith decades ago in a basement classroom at San Quentin State Prison. Judith taught poetry and inspired a whole new world and dimension to my doing time. Until then I was a prisoner who was beginning my journey as a student in life. I read, pondered, and studied books on almost every subject. I had come from the heart of the high desert and had only known small town desert life. I could leave the confines of incarceration for hours, even days, exploring the worlds that books had opened up to me.
I could have continued my journey in silence, with the love of knowledge and growth. I thought poetry was beyond me. The philosophies I read of Emerson, Spinoza, Plato, and Aristotle would quote and refer to poets, but I had never really read or studied poetry until I found my niche in Judith's class as a bard. I thought poems must come from some hidden, magical place, a place heavy with knowledge and wisdom.
Some spirit, muse, or magic moved me to create my first poem one Christmas Eve. Somehow I let go of my pre-conceived notions of what should and should not be. Some force, some sweet realness, engulfed me. The next Monday, I caught Judith in the hallway of the education building and handed her my poem. I had been in Judith's class, shades on day and night, in silence, for over a year. When she read the poem, all she could say – with tear-filled eyes – was “outrageous.”
After I began to write, I gradually realized that all my letters back home had been poetry too, that all along I had been writing poems. My life was the melody that flowed like free verse.
Poetry must touch the heart and soul, and later the mind. It takes you to a universal place – a spot inside that is personal and true. It must move the waters of your soul and travel to the mountaintop of your heart. Just like waves in the sea, and clouds in the sky. If poetry does not agitate or make you cry, mad, or warm your insides on a frosty day, then it must go deeper.
Do enjoy the journey of “Meat and Milk” – it takes you deep down into the dumpsters, down staircases, dark alleys, lighted subways, and warm beaches. I close with this poem inspired by Fury's work.
you had to have death
in your eyes.
must not crack
but sound with fury.
You had to have death
in your walk
Even if you didn't
Swag that showed
what you were doing,
was like breathing.