Curtis L. CrislerWebsite
Years: 2003, 2005, 2006
Curtis L. Crisler is an Assistant Professor of Creative
Writing at IPFW. His poetry book Pulling Scabs will
be released in 2009 by Aquarius Press. In 2009,
Leaving Me Behind: Writing a new me, a nonfiction
book addressing the six week Summer Bridge
experience at IPFW was released, which Crisler co-
wrote with his 2008 Summer Bridge Students. In
2008, Spill won the 2008 Keyhole Chapbook
Award. His poetry book Tough Boy Sonatas was
published in 2007, and is also on Recorded Books.
Crisler’s Tough Boy Sonatas was a 2009 recipient of
The Eric Hoffer Award.
They will say
—for Jam Master Jay
you are flash in pan, and have been talkin’
“ish” since The Sugarhill Gang. Sugar who?
They will say, “It’s loud, angry in bumpin’,
and we can’t understand your words.” [The rule
of code switchin’ is to code switch: you must
trust true prophets spreadin’ good news]. Some will
say it disrupts mind to small silent hush,
and this disease can’t be saved with a pill.
Malcolm said, “I don’t know if I could start
a riot, but I don’t know if I would
stop one.” They will say rap lingo burns hard:
pimp, ho, bitch—our art and women abused,
and splayed like hot meat on a barbecue-
it-up-Saturday, when hangin’ with crew.
Your crew can understand, to a point, with
mess that’s on BET and MTV,
you might hear small requiem-side of myth—
a dead-end-corner slangin’ broke-back-beats,
not the pissed-off-to-all-pisstivity
of Chuck D’s 3rd eye. They want glamor’s rise;
Beasties not illin’ no mo’. We got peeps
who graduated Hollis, rock it like
this, who got Harvard degrees in puttin’-
it-on-ya. The HOT playlist so wicked,
spinnin’ butt-lick-flick-jams that’s cold dissin’
KRS1, and Bambaata’s magic—
just gettin’ hip to ole school, think Common
on “new kick,” but he dressed-up son-of-Run.
All sons-of-Run tell it within hot rim-
shots like Kweli, beg for sunlight to shine
our foreheads. Under love from Lauryn Hill,
singing hopeful from death-boxes of pine—
feeds us hearty melodies. Sweet Jill Scott’s,
crazy crazy crazy—got much love for
little minds, while hyped Mos Def marches us
beyond bouncing black booties—airtime whores
for glitz, bucks, status—back into what is
hip hip-hop, where The Roots sleep and funk up
purity through bass, drums, and horns; all this
so Angie Stone can blow uncorrupted
over melody. Some will say, “this ish,
that ish,” but why the hell they in our mix?