About this poet

Poet, performer, and editor Quincy Troupe was born July 22, 1939, in St Louis, Missouri.

His books of poetry include The Architecture of Language (Coffee House Press, 2006); Transcircularities: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2002); Choruses (Coffee House Press, 1999); Avalanche (Coffee House Press, 1996); Weather Reports: New and Selected Poems (Writers & Readers, 1991); Skulls along the River (I. Reed Books, 1984); Snake-Back Solos: Selected Poems 1969-1977 (Reed Cannon & Johnson Pub, 1979), which received an American Book Award; and Embryo Poems, 1967-1971 (Balenmir House, 1974).

He is also the author of Miles: The Autobiography (1989), which received an American Book Award; James Baldwin: The Legacy (1989); and Miles and Me: A Memoir of Miles Davis (2000). Troupe edited the anthology Giant Talk: An Anthology of Third World Writing (1975) and is a founding editor of Confrontation: A Journal of Third World Literature and American Rag and the founding editorial director of Code. In 1991, he received the Peabody Award for co-producing and writing the radio show The Miles Davis Radio Project.

Among his honors and awards are fellowships from the National Foundation for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. He has taught at the University of California San Diego and Columbia University. He also served as poet laureate of the state of California. Troupe lives with his wife, Margaret, and son Porter, in La Jolla, California.

Errancities

Quincy Troupe, 1939
for Edouard Glissant
I.
the mind wanders as a line of poetry taking flight meanders
in the way birds spreading wings lift into space knowing
skies are full of surprises like errançities encountering restless
journeys as in the edgy solos of miles davis or jimi hendrix

listen to night-song of sea waves crashing in foaming with voices
carrying liquid histories splashing there on rock or sandy shores
after traveling across time space & distance it resembles a keening
language of music heard at the tip of a sharp blade of steel

cutting through air singing as it slices a head clean from its neck
& you watch it drop heavy as a rock landing on earth & rolling
like a bowling ball the head leaving a snaking trail of blood reminding
our brains of errançities wandering through our lives every day

as metaphors for restless movement bring sudden change
surprise in the way you hear errançities of double meaning
layered in music springing from secret memories as echoes
resounding through sea & blue space is what our ears know

& remember hearing voices speaking in tongues carrying history
blooming as iridescent colors of flowers multifarious as rainbows
arching across skies multilingual as joy or sorrow evoked inside
our own lives when poetic errançities know their own forms

2.
what is history but constant recitations of flawed people pushed
over edges of boundaries of morality pursuing wars pillage
enslavement of spirits is what most nations do posing as governing
throughout cycles of world imagination plunder means profit

everywhere religion is practiced on topography as weapons used
as tools written in typography to conquer minds to slaughter for gold
where entire civilizations become flotsam floating across memory seas
heirloom trees cut down as men loot the planet without remorse

their minds absent of empathy they remember/know only greed
these nomadic avatars of gizzard-hearted darth vaders who celebrate
"shock-doctrines" everywhere ballooning earnings-sheet bottom lines
their only creed for being on earth until death cuts them down

3. 
but poetry still lives somewhere in airstreams evoking creative breath
lives in the restless sea speaking a miscegenation of musical tongues
lives within the holy miracle of birds elevating flight into dreams & song
as errançities of spirits create holy inside accumulation of daybreaks

raise everyday miraculous voices collaborating underneath star-nailed
clear black skies & the milky eye of a full moon over guadeloupe
listen to the mélange of tongues compelling in nature's lungs in new york
city tongues flung out as invitations for sharing wondrous songs

which nature is a summons to recognize improvisation as a surprising path
to divergence through the sound of scolopendra rooted somewhere here
in wonder when humans explode rhythms inside thickets of words/puns
celebrating the human spirit of imagination is what poets seek

listen for cries of birds lifting off for somewhere above the magical 
pulse of sea waves swirling language immense with the winds sound
serenading us through leaves full of ripe fruit sweet as fresh water
knowing love might be deeper than greed & is itself a memory

a miracle always there might bring us closer to reconciliation inside
restless métisse commingling voices of errançities wandering within
magic the mystery of creation pulling us forward to wonder to know
human possibility is always a miraculous gift is always a conundrum

From Errançities by Quincy Troupe. Copyright © 2012 by Quincy Troupe. Reprinted with permission of Coffee House Press. All rights reserved.

From Errançities by Quincy Troupe. Copyright © 2012 by Quincy Troupe. Reprinted with permission of Coffee House Press. All rights reserved.

Quincy Troupe

Quincy Troupe

Poet, performer, and editor Quincy Troupe received the American Book Award for his work Snake-Back Solos: Selected Poems, 1969-1977.

by this poet

poem

For Duke Ellington

1.
that day began with a shower
of darkness, calling lightning rains
home to stone language
of thunderclaps, shattering, the high
blue, elegance, of space & time
where a broken-down, riderless, horse
with frayed wings
rode a sheer bone, sunbeam
road, down into