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Academy Audio ArchiveRecorded April 24, 1990at the Donnell Library Center

About this poet

Poet, performer, and editor Quincy Troupe was born July 22, 1939, in St Louis, Missouri.

His books of poetry include The Architecture of Language (Coffee House Press, 2006); Transcircularities: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2002); Choruses (Coffee House Press, 1999); Avalanche (Coffee House Press, 1996); Weather Reports: New and Selected Poems (Writers & Readers, 1991); Skulls along the River (I. Reed Books, 1984); Snake-Back Solos: Selected Poems 1969-1977 (Reed Cannon & Johnson Pub, 1979), which received an American Book Award; and Embryo Poems, 1967-1971 (Balenmir House, 1974).

He is also the author of Miles: The Autobiography (1989), which received an American Book Award; James Baldwin: The Legacy (1989); and Miles and Me: A Memoir of Miles Davis (2000). Troupe edited the anthology Giant Talk: An Anthology of Third World Writing (1975) and is a founding editor of Confrontation: A Journal of Third World Literature and American Rag and the founding editorial director of Code. In 1991, he received the Peabody Award for co-producing and writing the radio show The Miles Davis Radio Project.

Among his honors and awards are fellowships from the National Foundation for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. He has taught at the University of California San Diego and Columbia University. He also served as poet laureate of the state of California. Troupe lives with his wife, Margaret, and son Porter, in La Jolla, California.

The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974

Quincy Troupe, 1939

For Duke Ellington

1.
that day began with a shower
of darkness, calling lightning rains
home to stone language
of thunderclaps, shattering, the high
blue, elegance, of space & time
where a broken-down, riderless, horse
with frayed wings
rode a sheer bone, sunbeam
road, down into the clouds

2.
spoke wheels of lightning jagged
around the hours, & spun high up
above those clouds, duke wheeled
his chariot of piano keys
his spirit, now, levitated from flesh
& hovering over the music of most high
spoke to the silence
of a griot-shaman-man
who knew the wisdom of God

3.
at high noon, the sun cracked
through the darkness, like a rifle shot
grew a beard of clouds on its livid, bald
face, hung down, noon, sky high
pivotal time of the flood-deep hours
as duke was pivotal, being a five in the nine
numbers of numerology
as his music was one of the crossroads
a cosmic mirror of rhythmic gri-gri

4.
so get on up & fly away duke, bebop
slant & fade on in, strut, dance swing, riff
& float & stroke those tickling, gri-gri keys
those satin ladies taking the A train  up
to harlem, those gri-gri keys 
of birmingham, breakdown
sophisticated ladies, mood indigo
get on up & strut across, gri-gri
raise on up, your band's waiting

5.
thunderclapping music, somersaulting
clouds, racing across the deep, blue wisdom
of God, listen, it is time for your intro, duke
into that other place, where the all-time great
band is waiting for your intro, duke
it is time for the Sacred Concert, duke
it is time to make the music of God, duke
we are listening for your intro, duke
so let the sacred music, begin

From Transcircularities: New and Selected Poems by Quincy Troupe. Copyright © 2002 by Quincy Troupe. Reprinted with the permission of Coffee House Press, Minneaoplis, www.coffeehousepress.com.

From Transcircularities: New and Selected Poems by Quincy Troupe. Copyright © 2002 by Quincy Troupe. Reprinted with the permission of Coffee House Press, Minneaoplis, www.coffeehousepress.com.

Quincy Troupe

Quincy Troupe

Poet, performer, and editor Quincy Troupe received the American Book Award for his work Snake-Back Solos: Selected Poems, 1969-1977.

by this poet

poem
for Edouard Glissant
I.
the mind wanders as a line of poetry taking flight meanders
in the way birds spreading wings lift into space knowing
skies are full of surprises like errançities encountering restless
journeys as in the edgy solos of miles davis or jimi hendrix

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