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George Edward Tait

Available for Bookings

 


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The Book Store

The Baker's Dozen:
Selected Dance Poems of George Edward Tait
illustrations by Sir Shadow

The Baker's Dozen Thirteen Dimensions of Dance

$15.00 each
Includes postage to US & Canada
$20.00
Includes international postage
To order by mail send check or money order payable to:
George Edward Tait
P.O. Box 1305
New York, NY 10035
Allow up to 3 to 4 weeks for delivery

"Dance, the most ephemeral of art forms, has been captured in the book, The Baker's Dozen: Selected Dance Poems by George Edward Tait. In this richly rhythmic style, Mr. Tait treats us to a metaphoric banquet of allusions to dance, dancers, and the world."          

                                                    Dr. Lonnetta Taylor-Gaines


QPR Book Review

A Betty Carterian be-bop mumbo jumbo romp to a four-to-five verse orchestra.
 

I have reviewed two of George Edward Taits’s books of poetry over the years: At War and At Arms. For over two decades, I've witnessed him read several times (he actually never reads but recites from the remembrance of his soul) at various venues, from libraries to community events; in fact, he was the featured poet to welcome Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe during the statesman’s visit to Harlem last year.
 

 Tait’s latest offering, The Baker’s Dozen: Selected Dance Poems of george Edward Tait, announces a culmination of the bard’s long journey of nourishing and cultivating prose until, finally, he has gardened what might be his most beautiful blossoms of words. That is what Tait has been doing over the decades: fine tuning words into Betty Carterian be-bop mumbo jumbo verses and striving to make his words swing to the romp of a four-to-five verse orchestra. Published by Dance Giant Steps, Inc. and enhanced with illuminating illustrations by Sir Shadow , The Bakers Dozen hoodoo hollers (and whispers) praise songs to continental and diaspric dance as an omnipresent, vital current in the muti-dimensioanl flow of African life – yesterday, today, tomorrow, to eternity.


‘Dance of Destiny’ (for Akousa Tait) is the one of two porems that reveals his tender, sensitive side. We certainly have witnessed his Zulu characteristics in At War and At Arms. In some of those poems, the woman of his heart had to compliment his martial spirit; however in ‘Dance of Destiny,’ written for his wife Akousa, we get a seasoned soldier who realizes that one must make time for personal moments of peace for ones self and mate. Listen to his Smokey Robinson-like love chants on the dance floor of love:

 

Give me your hand, my dear

And let us dance

into the dawn of destiny

A dawn without a

dusk, my dear

Let the cosmos

choreograph the

contrast of our continuum

And let us dance

our duet on the

dotted line.

 

I read ‘The Bakers Dozen’ twice; once silent, and the other time aloud, as suggested by Dr. Lonetta M. Taylor Gaines in her introduction. I enjoyed the silent read, but reading it aloud was more dynamic. Reading ‘At the Ball’ is about partying at a dance hall, and the first three or four lines leads to that conjecture:

 

Before the ball

The dance floor waits

A hardwood anticipation of

adrenalin rush

Then the dancers appear:

 

It is not until the later verses that the reader discovers that the poet is choreographing and excellent basketball game. One can almost hear the screeching of sneakers, the husky grunts of big men with swan-like moves as they leap and run with an awe-inspiring beauty captured on the poets moving canvass:

 

The dancers dance

From pick and roll patterns

to post-up pyrotechnics

From sliding screen

set-ups to slam-dunk shockers

From anecdotal assists

to alley-oop-artistry

The dancers dance

with base-line

basics and the

beat-the-buzzer baskets

 

It is in ‘Move-sicians’ that the poet speaks volumes to the value of dance in the struggle of African peoples for human dignity. European and euro-American dance is too often funeralized in its movements – an on-stage, public opportunity to display sexual parts in leotards. In ‘Move-sicians,’ the poet notes that dance makes African peoples’ universe come alive. The beat of the dancers hearts and pulsating percussions are one; dance movements becomes a living entity in their marriage, out of that wonderful, soul-stirring celebration of that marriage, the people are reborn and reenergized. Dance – African dance is one with life: it’s in prayer, work, war, marriage, birth, death.

 

Tait sings:

 

Drums breathe

With earthfeet

As sunwater tempos and timeless

            Signatures

While the cosmic pulse of a sacres past

Rises into selfless possession

As the drumbeings dazzle

& make art the alter ego

of anatomy

 

The Bakers Dozen is a continuation of Tait’s warnings that the white collective’s war on African peoples must be resisted. Culture is a major weapon used by the white collective to instill inferiority in Africans, destroy their self-respect and their titanic potential, to mis-educate, incarcerate, and to perpetuate mentacide (mind kill). Tait, in The Bakers Dozen, reminds us that dance is one of the cultural tools that Africans, consciously or unconsciously, use to express and inspire the protracted struggle against the white supremacist war declared by the white collective.

 

Yusef Abdus-Salaan is the author of Killing Sam, a play about the life and times of R&B singer Sam Cooke.

     George Edward Tait was born in Oakland and raised in Harlem. He graduated from Pace University in 1968 with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and a minor in French Language and Literature after being a member of the literary society and The Pace Press. From 1968-1972, he taught and tutored English at Queens College while conducting Creative Writing workshops. Defining music as the poetry of sound, Tait became a bandleader and from 1972 to 1975 spearheaded a group called Black Massical Music In 1975, Tait founded The Society of Afrikan Poets and produced a seven year series of weekly poetry readings entitled Black Words for a Wednesday Night which ended in 1982. While teaching at Malcolm-King College (1981-1986), his first volume of poetry At War was published in 1983, the same year he was named The Poet Laureate of Afrikan Nationalism by leaders of the nationalist community, a title he still holds twenty years later (2003).
      Several of Tait 's poems and articles were published by the New York Amsterdam News from 1979 -1996. During this period, another volume of poetry At Arms was published in 1992 in addition to his work being included in the landmark anthology Brotherman; The Odyssey of Black Men in America (1995).
      Entering the new millenium, Tait was published in the Def Poetry Jam anthology Bum Rush The Page and will soon publish the long-awaited sequel to At War and At Arms entitled Swordsongs.
 
 
 
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