“Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” Mark Twain, a Biography
Twain wrote of swearing as “ornamental” when practiced by American miners considered by him to be “gifted among the sons of man.”
I admit I haven’t the gift to turn profanity into art and I have no taste for vulgarity. You won’t catch a swear word on my tongue or even on my mind but I do recognize that there’s a time and place and manner. I don’t know what Twain would think of award-winning American spoken-word poet, Carlos Andrés Gómez, but I like his work. Carlos moves profanity from emotional release or “ornament” to moral high ground. He applies it with searing honesty to the human condition.
Here’s Carlos telling it like it is:
If you are reading this post FROM in email, you will have to click through to view the video.
“Carlos is amazing. Pretty much everything he says, whether a ‘poem’ or not, is pure poetry. His grace and power and humor demand not only that people listen, but also that they act for change — in themselves and the world around them. And especially when it comes to the narrow norms that constrain men, hurt women, and limit us all, he can help deliver exactly the change we need. Carlos makes me laugh, cry, and hope.”
Mallika Dutt, President & CEO of Breakthrough [the global human rights organization dedicated to making violence against women unacceptable] (India)
Carlos Andrés Gómez was born in New York City (1983) but he seems very much a citizen of the world. He’s a poet, writer, actor, activist . . . and some say, a prophet. He was a social worker and a public school teacher. He is the son of a United Nation’s diplomat and an indigenous rights’ activist.
His book, Man-up: Reimagining Modern Manhood (Gotham, 2012) is a coming of age memoir that suggests an enlightened masculinity with an open self-embracing emotional life, ready to foster nonviolence and able to see women not as objects but as whole human beings, as equal partners in life and work. The book was written in part to help address some of the crises we are all so concerned about, including school drop-out rates and youth suicide. A worthy read that challenges us to exchange traditional male stereotypes of macho conformity for something more genuine and soul-satifying. Recommended for women as well as men and I’d say for anyone raising and/or educating young men.
© Jamie Dedes