Rita Banerjee’s poems “Georgia Brown” and “The Suicide Rag” feat. on Painted Bride Quarterly’s Print Annual & Podcast, “Episode 27: Suicides & Skeleton Jazz”

georgiabrownPainted Bride Quarterly’s podcast, “Episode 27: Suicides and Skeleton Jazz,” features two new poems from Rita Banerjee.  Here’s is a message from the PBQ Editors:

In the midst of excitedly preparing for AWP 2017, we record this episode in which we discuss two poems by Rita Banerjee, “The Suicide Rag” and “Georgia Brown”

Rita Banerjee is the Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and is currently working on a futuristic dystopian novel about Mel Cassin, a half-Tamil, half-Jewish girl stuck in the middle of a familial crisis and an epic political meltdown, and a collection of essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.  A jet-setter at heart, she spends her time between Munich, Germany and the United States.

This week’s discussion both took us back and made sure that none of us would see the world the same way again. With images of breakdancing, gospel choir, and the not-so-innocent Georgia Brown, we were in it. Whether we’re distinguishing jazz from jazz or figuring out what a clapper is, this episode is filled with risky moves.

Here is a sample of Rita Banerjee’s poetry:

Georgia Brown

Harlem had yet to be born,
the globe had not been spun,
but we knew how to whistle,
how to call clappers and skirts on cue:
That summer, we first met Georgia,
she was an echo in four beats,
we learned to hum her story.
Mike played her with a licked reed
but she was all brass, sharp
like an abandoned railroad cutting through
wild wood, and when she took stage,
she made those trombone boys whisper,
“Sweet Georgia, Sweet.”

The Suicide Rag

Billy played ragtime
on the church
organ but we

lunch hour kids,
kept time by another
name.  Behind St. Augustine’s

we learned to hit
the pavement, sound
like an anvil

crack
hammers hitting
steel, Billy playing

skeletons
on the fifth,
we arpeggioed

haloed, froze
on the black
top.  Learning

to cakewalk
This was our
battle—

tar-mat babies
doing handsprung
suicides

for the girls
standing ’round
with knife-like eyes

That’s all
we needed—
a rolling

beat, a firing squad
and schoolyard
skirts

scouring the lot
as we fell
face forward

hands locked
& stiff, the only
thing

that could’ve
come between
us was a kiss.

To here the full discussion of Rita Banerjee’s poetry, listen to the PBQ “Episode 27: Suicides and Skeleton Jazz,podcast here.

Advertisements