Raymond Nat Turner Day in Berkeley, CA -- Mayor Jesse Arreguin presents the award to Raymond Turner.
Tuesday February 25 was proclaimed “Raymond Nat Turner Day” in Berkeley. Never in my wildest imagination had I dreamed of having a day in my honor. Had I bothered dreaming, the Peoples’ Republic of Berkeley—which has paid holidays commemorating Malcolm X and Indigenous Peoples Day as well as MLK—would certainly have been the setting.
The ceremony began with Berkeley’s Mayor Jesse Arreguin reading, “Whereas.” He noted that I’ve “performed everywhere from the Monterey Jazz Festival and Harvard University to Panafest in Ghana always sharing his truth and insisting on being heard and seen, prompting the poet Gwendolyn Brooks to call his work ‘lively,’ and inspiring peers that he is ‘one of the most prolific, consistently beautiful and unabashedly radical voices writing today.'” He said, ‘if you ever have an opportunity to see him perform, just do it’
It was all so surreal! Even so, Mom’s training took charge: I thanked the Mayor and City Council. I acknowledged my teachers, labor leaders, activists, the Berkeley Poet Laureate, peers from the California Arts Council, as well as friends and family.
Recognizing I was up against the clock—and “thank you” could quickly consume my 3 minutes—I launched into my piece, “Whoppers of Boss Tweet” based on the great Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Waters of March.”
Raymond, with Zigi Lowenberg, is the core of the spoken word/poetry/jazz ensamble Upsurge.
My Wise Country Cousin:
Ol’ Massa Mikul buy mo’
Negroz den de Foundin’ Fathas…
by Raymond Nat Turner, BAR Poet-in-Residence
Lawd, wusn’t it sad seein’ dat ol’ Rush boy on cabul TV
pimped by Massa Mikul an’ Tío Tomas ob de DNC?
Massa Mikul monee make Dem Negroz go crazy—
principuls— go poof— recollekshuns git hazy…
Massa Mike say, “I buy mo’ Negroz den Jeffasun did”
hikin’ his britches, “An’ I ain’t nebber been overbid!”
Dem Kangfish Negroz nuttin’ but de bottum-feedurs—
ol’ hankerchif head, solt out mush-mouf-misleedurs
de Emperur Stop’nFrisk bowt fo’ his ghoulishness—
Dey runnin’ roun’ spoutin’ nappy-headed foolishness!
Dem Negroz been restin’ fitty-years on ‘60s cred
livin’ de Captalis' Hill gud life—spirchually dead…
Sum say dats why ol’ Massa Mikul Biden his time—
to red bate out all ob de riff-raff an’ radicul slime…
So he buy up all ob de Negorz who can pantomime—
den he cum roundin’ us ALL up—“Tough on Crime!”
© 2020. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.
BAR’s poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an accomplished performing artist. You can find much more of his work at http://upsurgejazz.com .
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