Today dear readers I am one of the bloggers kicking off the blog tour for Medusa’s Children (Published October 2020 By Wild Pressed) By Keith Antar Mason. A big thank you to Love Book Tours for my copy and the invite to take part, always appreciated.
From performing in the alleys of LA, Keith Antar Mason recounts his experience of getting on stage at the ICA in London with The Hittite Empire Performance Art Collective, an all-Black Intergenerational Men’s Cultural Elite.
The narrative of the London trip and snippets of the author’s experiences back in LA is effortlessly interwoven with visceral and evocative images from Black History, as memorised in his genes:
We are the nightsticked
Every summer is a Red Summer
Medusa’s Children is a one voice rant, a prose memoir, a wish poem.
This is a memory written in
Ashes and Fog
Our Life on Mars
Stone cold word killers
Spitting Knowledge and Truth
About The Author
Keith Antar Mason is Artistic Director of The Hittite Empire Performance Art Collective, an all Black Intergenerational Men’s Cultural Elite. He is the author of For Black Boys Who Have Considered Homicide When The Streets Were Too Much (Plume, 1986) and New Wine & Black Men’s Feet (Red Hen Press, 2009)
He has performed with The Hittite Empire all over the United States and has taught and performed at Harvard University, Stanford University, UCLA and USC.
His work has been performed at The Black Theatre Festivals at Winston, Salem. Atlanta, LIFT, ICA London and on Broadway at Alice Tully Hall, The Lincoln Centre.
Keith Antar Mason conducts writing workshops in State Penitentiaries in California, Washington DC and Nevada
His New choreopoem, In The House of a Young Pharaoh, is being developed for Medium Production in LA in 2021.
The narrative follows Mason as he recounts his experience of performing in the alleys of LA to the stage at the ICA in London with The Hittite Empire Performance Art Collective, an all-Black Intergenerational Men’s Cultural Elite. This is powerful poetry dear reader, a prose memoir that is not afraid to speak openly.
The poems in this collection are numbered instead of titled. I enjoyed this different approach as I felt it represented the number of days the reader had been traveling with Mason. I felt involved and educated on Black history as I listened to urban legends and stories that need to be remembered and retold for generations to come.
From eating Chinese and learning the value of pounds and pence, Mason’s poetry absorbs you from the moment you begin reading. As a tourist we visit Covent Garden, eat fish and chips alongside trips on the tube. The reader is treated to a full on typical British welcome to England with a please and thank-you, how do you take your tea? It’s humble and accepting.
What I admire and enjoy about Mason’s poetry is how he effortlessly weaves between his trip to London and his experiences back in LA. One minute the reader is enjoying a cup of english tea while the next we are listening to the vivid recounts of Black history. It is mesmerising and Mason captures a realness that speaks openly and honestly with a beautiful poetic justice.
I found in Poem 2 the use of single words blunt and to the point. The impact it made within its content amplified Mason’s voice, spoken with a purpose and the desire to inspire others to join the fight. He makes a statement within the use of a single word, it awakens the soul and a desire to start a revolution.
As I was reading Poem 3 I was surrounded by the rhythm of djembes and aroma of spiced tea. I enjoyed being caught up in these moments and could still taste the sweetness long after I had finished reading. I yearned for more. Mason has a natural talent for creating an atmosphere that surrounds and consumes you. The senses come alive and become desperate for more.
Freedom and power of speech run bravely in these poems. Mason tells the reader about an urban legend of a runaway slave and how the master stripped him in front of folks for simply running for freedom. It’s such a heartbreaking tale to read and difficult to understand why the world, no, make that people were so cruel all those years ago. But when you think about it and see what is happening on the tv on the news you start to realise it is still happening. Mason writes how slavery hasn’t ended in America, it’s just got better dressed. He also compares how in London he feels free but in a different kind of way. It broke me as we should all be entitled to freedom and not defined by race, the pure beauty of the different colours of our skin. We are all human and should all respect one another yet unfortunately this is not the way. It makes you wonder if humanity will ever learn from its past mistakes and stop denying human rights and start celebrating how unique we all are, regardless of race. One can only hope that more voices, stories, poetry such as Mason’s start to be heard and more importantly listened to with an action for change to happen.
There are strong themes of race and black history throughout Mason’s poetry that need to be heard. His poetry speaks of how in America he was born a suspect, because of the colour of his skin. It makes you seriously question how can we appear to have come so far yet little has changed. It has to change, it can’t and should not continue this way.
I give Medusa’s Children By Keith Antar Mason a Five out of Five paw rating.
Powerful and spoken from the heart, Mason’s poetry carries truth and rawness as he stands naked in front of the world. I loved this collection and couldn’t get enough. More is needed!
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, enjoy.
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