By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
By LP Hastings
By Jena Ardell
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
The first thing that grabs you when New York poet Roger Bonair-Agard performs is his voice. Okay, it's probably not the first thing. He's an extremely striking man after all: tall. Handsome. Muscular. Getting an audience's attention? Not so hard. But it's Bonair-Agard's strong, expressive voice and mesmerizing Caribbean accent that hook you.
Really. A lot of poets have made do with a lot less, and while it's hard to ignore his sheer physical and aural presence, it's really Bonair-Agard's meticulous, oft-times blistering writing and his determination to poke through the shadows that fall on both the U.S. and his native Trinidad and Tobago that make him a writer to be reckoned with. For example, take his poem "Song for Trent Lott" (who said we'd be a better country today if Strom Thurmond had won the presidency). Writes Bonair-Agard: "You think you'd have/survived/that vote Mr. White Man/do you know what we do in the dark?/we took your rags and made rope/took your kindling and grew fruit/picked your cotton and crafted reconstruction/that slave-barrack hunger rages in our history."
There's defiance in Bonair-Agard's writing and also struggle, emotional depth and, above all else, survival. This is a staggeringly important poet, one worthy of attention.
Roger Bonair-Agard performs his one man show, "Masquerade: Poems of Calypso and Home," at the Found Theater, 599 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 433-3363; www.foundtheatre.org. Tues., 8 p.m. $10.