Sharp, Colorful Language Sparks Michael Warr’s Poetry
CLARKSDALE – “My poetry draws on things that really happened,” says celebrated writer Michael Warr Friday morning at Coahoma Community College’s George Lewis Theatre.
Speaking to students and faculty before his evening presentation downtown, Warr, who was born in Baton Rouge, and moved to San Francisco as a young child, opened with a poem titled, “Why couldn’t I have been born a Baptist?”
Explaining how his mother was a Jehovah’s Witness convert, “bloated with the Holy Spirit,” Warr said, “I was exposed to gospel and wonder what I would be like today if I had grown up in that.”
In another poem titled, “Man Child,” Warr describes his childhood where he and his friends admired gangsters, and wanted to be pimps with fake alligator shoes and a chocolate brown suede Cadillac.
“Malcolm X had been a pimp; we worshipped Al Capone, but Malcolm escaped pimpdom,” he said.
Reading from his “praise poems,” inspired after moving to Chicago, Warr said he was influenced by music: the Temptationa, The Velvet Lounge, and his mentor: Gwendolyn Brooks.
Hallucinations and dreams of cornbread, fumes from corn on the cob and other food filled his work, and his poetry laced with humor was ‘”rooted in real things.”
For five years the poet traveled in Africa: Ethiopia, Mali, and Timbuktu where he was influenced by its vast deserts and 240 languages.
Returning to America, he is living today in San Francisco. The award-winning poet, also read his poetry at The Sun Gallery, owned by CCC fine arts chair Rosalind Wilcox, a friend from their Chicago days.
His appearance was sponsored by Carnegie Public Library and the Coahoma County Higher Education Center’s Community Book Series. Refreshments were provided by Coahoma’s Chef Brennon Warr and his culinary students.