A people's community publication based in Asheville, North Carolina and Athens, Georgia.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
GLENIS REDMOND's Earth, Wind and Fire
By Pasckie Pascua
article below first appeared in The Indie in 2006. The Indie (of
Asheville) will be back on print this summer, 2013.
Gale Redmond. You don’t have to. She reads to you. She is a SHOUT
for all those who have heard poetry’s direct flight from mouth to
ear. Listen to her with your eyes. I borrow these words, with sincere
apologies, from Bob Holman, one of the founders of downtown New York
City’s Nuyorican Poetry Café, as a fitting invocation to Ms
Redmond’s Muse, a dragon spirit with the ethereal grace of a dove.
I spent almost three weeks trying in vain to capture in written word
both the exhilaration and insistence, urgency and sensation of her
work’s impact on me. Long after I nailed down the last syllable in
this rereading, I’m sure I’d still be mooning for the apt body of
words that’ll speak of her with justice and appropriateness. It’s
simply bothersome. Like
an old Chinese poetry, as espoused by Li Po and Lee Young-Li (on line
with Holman’s observation), there is no verb without a noun—it is
contained in the character. I do agree. For, the poems that Glenis
Redmond spew, pray or chant out of her body and soul are not just
aesthetic recognition and exaltation of earth, wind, and fire –
these poems know poetry is a contact sport. It is physical, as well
as mental; emotional, as well as spiritual. On her couch, cabin,
cafe, and cabaret, poetry warms the wearied spirit, shelters the
wandering rebel, and celebrates the downtrodden.
she lets loose words out of her system, she simultaneously unleashes
fire that ignites light more than it burns the glade—unwavering and
powerful, at the same time, enlightening and comforting. Imbibe this
ferocious grace -- “If If I die from love / this life, / I want to
be recycled / as fire. / Fed by orange / brandished flame. / Spread
openly / like desire / over love’s / candid plain."
when she emotes the human condition through language and movement,
she also breathes the earth’s gifts and grime like a mother to a
child—unrepentant and proud, sacrificing but volatile. Then, as she
belts out her poetry like the blues that feeds off “sweet brown fat
juicy raisins” of grandmother nature, you can almost feel the
soulful warmth of a gospel singer’s celestial voice: “I need some
fresh from the garden, ripe and ready, old fashioned, cooked in a pot
three days, lip smackin’, homemade, backslappin’, sweet brown and
juicy kind of love.” The rhythm is exhilarating, the vibe is
jubilating—it is a prayer recited amidst the howl of conga drums.
The impact stays inside long after the trajectory cut deep into you,
ricocheted within and then left like a winter’s wandering wind. Her
spirit is disturbing and haunting but it’s not ghostly or cold –
it’s transcendent and warm.
are, to me, understatements below Ms Redmond’s azure sky and blue
ocean. While most of the poems in her book, “Backbone,” are
sparkling gems of sheer, earthly grace, mystifying pungency, and
burrowing passion, the essential appreciation of her work come with
the actual, live contact.
unwittingly, yet continuously, blur the grey line that separates the
sublime from the mundane, and the immaculate from the
corporeal—without losing their respective lustre. In other words,
for Redmond, there are no picket fences thrust between her and her
audience. Whenever she delivers her message – may it be with fire
or wind, stone or rose – it’s definitely got to be straight-put,
bottoms-up, no chasers in between.
out your song, shout it out, girl, in the midnight hour until the
it to the left, slam it to the right with fist and head held high.
are moist clay, they can’t break you now.
your song that cloaks you in honor with each stretch on your belly,
each wrinkle around your eye.
A SOUL and
blues goddess, she possesses the uncanny ability to laugh in the
midst of adversity—hence, she makes the struggle at the bottom of
the social order a celebration, if not victory regained. Her poems
define everyday people’s most cherished moments—when bitterness
is transcended and spirits lifted to exalt existence, not to mourn
the magic of Redmond’s craft: Her metaphors refuse to tilt on a
so-called intellectual perch, which could make her elusive, even
remote. Instead, she weaves her images so deftly and flawlessly,
making sure that we’re not left bewitched, bothered or bewildered
by the poetic trance – but warmly let inside, and welcomed as
integral part of her creative moondance.
has followed me all the days of my life.” Glenis Gale Redmond, a
self-proclaimed native of nowhere, is telling us a very physical
truth. Her poetry is her life – like a beautiful spirit that
commune in harmony with earth, wind and fire. Without these gifts of
existence, she ceases to be. But we all know these blessings of life,
like poetry and Glenis Redmond’s Muse, are eternal...
Ms Redmond has moved to Greenville SC few years ago...]