Jawanza Dumisani
Jawanza Dumisani served as facilitator of THE WORLD STAGE Anassi Writer’s Workshop in Leimert Park from 2004-2011. In 2002 he was the recipient of a scholarship from THE WORLD STAGE to attend UCLA Extension, where he studied with Suzanne Lummis. His first collection Stoetry, a chapbook was published in 2003 on FarStarFire Press. In 2005 he was chosen for a PEN AWARD and is a current PEN Fellow. He was also selected by BEYOND BAROQUE as a NEWER POET and was featured in the 2003 Los Angeles Festival. His first full length collection will be released in Fall 2010. His poems appear both in print and online in Beyond The Valley Of The Contemporary Poets, 2002 Anthology. City Dialog; Life During War Time. LA Poetry Festival’s Speechless, 2007,online on Media Cake, E Magazine #5: Fall 2008-Winter 2009 and Voices From Leimert, a WORLD STAGE Anthology, 2006. His first full length manuscript, Black Raising Cane Over Red is scheduled for release in 2012.

This is the intro I wrote for Jawanza back in September of 2011:
Jawanza is an important and distinctive voice in our poetry scene here in Southern California. I first met him circa 1998 at a “master class” given by Alice Notley, who did not fail to appreciate his talent. Recently I’ve been pleased to reconnect with him during my time as facilitator of the Wednesday night workshop at Beyond Baroque. His poems, and his earnest readings of these poems, move us with their unmistakable aura of authority and gravitas; this helps to explain why he is a favorite with audiences. Family dysfunction, injustice, substance abuse, nuclear warfare—he’s not afraid to tackle any of the big issues; in fact, when he does so, he’s most in his element. Perhaps on this day—September 11—which means so much to Americans, it is fitting to have his complex but accessible work and voice here to commemorate with us, but also to celebrate what is precious and worth preserving about our odd, vibrant and multi-dimensional culture.


You Slept
(Summer 1968)

Our Lord; The Jaws of Life,
lay hands on
and speak him home.

__Mother

Suspended between giant chrome hoops
spouting a litany of tubes,
infirmed at Mount Carmel ICU
four months after crash.

Anointed with obedience
I oil your black torso,
glistening like pharaoh
in July’s isolated tomb.

Dead weight turns, you don’t
veins eat, not you; still
blue dye courses, hands laid on
yearn to witness revival,

this transcendental vigil
watching my brother sleep.
At fifteen, I waver
August seers on.

Kneading your broke body
Into autumn’s patient arms
exposes your thinning Braille,
thump in bedpan reassures.

September’s middle finger taunts
Science waits hand & foot
chaperones my weary prayer,
premonition chanted in your ear__

Bet a Faygo Red Pop you’re dreaming
boxes ‘long 3rd baseline,
Momma’s onion burgers & fries,
hold the government cheese.

Alagae Syrup ‘n grits; buttermilks
& fatback, honey brown cleavage.
Fifth row; Smokey & The Temps
at Motown Revue.

Sudden as morning glory
you awoke,
stuck like a clock
voice-box still latched.

Eyes lock; cornering lost time, our jailed stares
wonder where we’ve been.
Graduation to reverend’s last sermon
your clutch triple the week before,

empty space only silence fills.
We spring toward equinox,
void chronicled on cast
from your forgotten leg.

It’s October Bob
I’d love to stand you up,
brush you back
with junk curves ‘til streetlights buzz.

Squabble for last hunk
of Aunt Lucille’s golden pound,
skate trios to David Ruffin
at Arcadia with you & Al.


Sammy
(Winter, 1971)

Careens in a storm
Without an umbrella
Three years after crash

One leg south of sixteen
His riddled arm tracks
Like Northwest Rail

Loved ones clutch
An empty book
With their eyes closed

His last call looming
Over tomorrow’s
Threadbare song




2013 Jawanza Dumisani
Jawanza Dumisani was a Featured Poet who read his poetry at the February 2013 Second Sunday Poetry Series