Happy Birthday, Miles

Miles Davis
Originally uploaded by tompalumbo

The summer of 2005 was a trip for me. I moved out of the Bx and defected to the dark side (aka Brooklyn), decided I would no longer be curating/hosting Acentos, met Barb, and was fresh out of poems. Yeah, I was sure as hell that I had no new poems in me and, for the first time in my short time writing poetry, was very cool with that fact. So I was living a paradox of not writing poems but more confident than ever that I was a poet since I was sure that a summer of not writing but doing some intense and varied reading would make up for my lack of poetic output.

The other dope thing that happened was reading Miles by Miles Davis because it showed me that greatness (in any art) takes time, practice, a plan, more time, and risk. Reading on how Miles put together the Birth of the Cool session then moved on to Kind of Blue and transformed again for Bitches Brew put me in some hard check. Here I was thinking the world owed me something after writing poems for three years when Miles was out there working on his craft for decades, had the world knocking for more of the same, and then went off for a decade to remake himself.

The funny thing about the summer of ’05, the summer I resigned not to write any poems, was that it was one of my most productive time periods with some of my first Bronx and mythic poems coming out of me. (Barb was sending some great poet challenges my way and that was where most of those poems came from.)

One more thing I got from reading up on Miles is what a bad human being he could be. Great artist doesn’t always equal great person and in the case of Miles it doesn’t even equal a fairly decent role model. He was a junkie and abused the hell out of women, sins that no amount of great music can ever make right.

Thanks for showing me the ways, Miles. The good ones to follow and the bad ones to avoid.

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