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Crisler , Curtis

Curtis L. Crisler

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?