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November 01, 1969 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-11-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

0
serial
report

the

Sundciy

doily

by
mary radtke
and
howard kohn

Number 15 Night Editor: Stuart Gannes

November 2, 1969

A

militant

as

a

poet:

ALL YOU BEAU TIFULS
You who are your, yourself
Are beautiful
Those who think are beautiful
The words you say are
Beautiful
The look you give, is all right
The knowing of it is something
All you beautifuls
Stand up
Those who are not sure
Sit down
The word all, means you
But when you are falling and
Think bad
What are we loosing
The beautiful! Beautiful! Chance
Of finding ourselves.

YOU TOUCHED ME
I want you to know, that you
Can be touched if you want to.
You are beautiful
And you touched me! By for
I say to you who have touched me
Sisters you touch me in the mind and
and soul
Brothers you touch me like red hot fire
on the stove.
Mother you have touched me
Like you should!
Everyone has touched me
And I like this.
But you can touch yourself
Like you touch me.
I touched you with all I -an
By saying in this writing
Everybody sometime or another will
Get touched by life.

~-Daily-Jay Cassidy

D S''EWART was released last month
from W. J. Maxey Training School in
Whitmore Lake. He served a year for. car-
rying a concealed weapon-his first con-
viction but his twelth arrest.
Ted was born in Detroit's inner city. His
mother died and his father left.
"Thi city is no good," he judgres. He refers
to the riot of 1967, during which he was
booked twice for being a "suspicious per-
son."
"We're having no more riots in this city
.. no more," he says, "or else we'll have no
more city.'
The city is. after all, still a place to go to.
Hie is back there now, living with new foster
parents on Clarendon St. Aging seems so
Intense here that even the pre-fab buildings
put up to cover the riot sores-look fossilized.
D I 17 years old and a poet--a serious,
ii ungrammatical poet, who sometimes
writes 10 poems a day. His poetry does not
lament the claustrophia or the masonry in-
cest of tenement walls, because those poems
are already in the library.
Instead he confronts people and politics,
often without making a distinction in verse.
But on reflection, he separates his poems
into an artificial caste system-some for the
Organization and some for himself:
The Organization is a black youth group
which phoenixed out of the riot and now
numbers, 1,000 tinilormed cavaliers.
"We're trying to get our own thing going
e're learning not to fight among our-
selves," Ted explains. "The Organization's
getting larger and larger."
JOSI' ORGANIZAT'ION mnembers were 15
or 16 w Ihen the riot occurred, leaving
many of them bereft and adrift. Rather than
order themselves completely according to
Black Panther canon, which places discipline
at a premium, they left the Organization in-
structured.
They say they only want to protect what
is their own-their lives and their lifestyles.

Yet they must crusade for black history
courses in high school and lobby against
police brutality.
Ted doesn't show his Organizatioii poetry
to anyone outside, though he says "there's
a time coming when the public can see it."
Clearly he hopes that the "public" someday
will include "his people."
The Organization is based at Northwestern
High School, the ghetto brownstone of De-
troit's public school systeni with 2,000 black
students. The Organization extends beyond
the school, through recruiting and politick-
ing, to include kids already on the streets.
WE TALKED to Ted at Northwestern,
where he is only a sophomore because
of the missed year. As we walked past the
adjoining junior high, the kids pushed back
the iron-latticed shutters from the windows
and laughed in derision at the white in-
truders.
Later we lstened to surly hatred from
one of Ted's Organization friends, who had
jacketed himself with a belt of empty 45mm
shells.
"My brother doesn't need you fags,' the
friend said. "He doesn't need anyone but
his brothers."
Ted could do nothing to interfere. We had
placed him in an awkward dilemma because
he had wanted to talk about his poetry and
couldn't. The friend did not linderstand
poetry and threatened to punch us in the
mout l
Most of the other Organization people
urged Ted away from us and away from the
Iriend.
As we debated, a police car dashed out of
a driveway and onto the football field,
chasing a young truant. It cavorted around
the stands, pushing the boy out of bounds
where he escaped through an opening in
the fence. The car had to detour back to
the main gate and missed the capture.
Because Northwestern is a potential "riot
area" police patrol the buildings every 10

minutes. But Northwestern has stayed mod-
estly quiet all this fall. The Organization is
one of the reasons why.
"We tell everybody to stay cool, 'cause
the pigs just waiting for us to make a false
move," Ted gestures. "We're gonna outsmart
them."
NOW THE Detroit Board of Education is
trying to integrate Northwestern and
Cody High, a largely-white school. The Or-
ganization has been bucking the plan.
"They won't listen to us. We went to a
school board meeting and got to speak.
But some honkie ladies kept shouting, and
nobody could hear. We asked the man to
get them out of there, but he wouldn't. So
we left, and the whole meeting broke up
because the people are with us."
Ted's digust seems a little rehearsed-.
but it does not come from standing in front
of a mirror. "The man don't care 'bout us
'less we give him trouble, real trouble," he
adds.
"And we don't want trouble at North-
western. But we'd get it if they integrate us."
Cooley High in Detroit was shut down for
several days this fall because of racial
fighting.
The Organization does not want confron-
tation with whites-culturally, socially, polit-
ically or violently.
"We're self-educated, you know," Ted says.
"That's why some of my poetry belongs to
the Organization . . . because it's about my
people and what we do and what we gonna
do."
BUT SOMEWHAT ironically, Ted's educa-
tion in poetry began at Maxey. "Before
I came there, I thought I was dumb," he
says, incredulous now in retrospect and
laughingly certain he will never make that
mistake again.
Before going to Maxey, he had never tried
to write and hadn't read much of anything.
But, once there, he became part of a remark-
able English program devised by Dr. Daniel
N. Fader, a professor in the University Eng-

list department, for the stated purpose of
getting kids like Ted "hooked on books."
Ted and countless others are, irrespective
of socio-economic staus, impoverished chil-
dren, Fader argues, "if they do not read with
pleasure. Because if they do not read with
pleasure, they are unlikely to read at all."
The progam's first premise is that if kids
are inundated with paperback books, maga-
zines, and newspapers, anything in print ex-
cept hard-bound texts, they will read. And
if they are made to write briefly but con-
tinually, they will write.
Upon arriving in his first Engish class at
Maxey, each child is given a spiral notebook
and told to fill up at least two pages a week
with writing. If he can't think of anything
to write, then copying is also good. The
teacher promises that this journal will not
be read, but it will be collected once a week
and the number of written pages counted.
"ED EXPLAINS that at first he filled his
journal with "anything about my life,
crazy things that didn't make sense. Then
one day I saw some Shakespeare laying
around and I thought, 'I can write as good
as that,' and I do. At least peoplesay I'm
a good writer, and I think so."
The poetry Ted writes is conversational,
spontaneous, and makes no attemept to deal
in conventional forms. He doesn't read poetry
and is not particularly interested in what
other poets have done. "I don't believe in
trying to write other people's style," he says.
His own style is simple, not filled with
florid images or clever word play, but young
and honest and hopeful. It is not gramma-
tically polished, but Ted explains, "Each
poem I write I go back and analyze once
to see if everything fits in its place, that it
says what I want to say.
"If I wanted it to be perfect, I should
go back five times and fix up the punctuation
and stuff, but don't want to." His approach
to writing is one benefitting a nineteenth
century Romantic like Wordsworth or Cole- .
ridge.

"I love to listen to music while I write,"
he says, gravely explaining how he picked
up, from a book he once read, the idea of
using self-hypnosis as a means to better
poetry.
"Thoughts come into my mind and I start
writing, just writing them down before I
forget. And while I'm writing I put them
into poetic form. It's like having two minds
-one for the thoughts and one for the
poetry."
THIS DIVISION that he sees between
thoughts and poetry is important. Ted
says he writes for ideas rather than for
words, and his ideas are directed more and
more at the political and social problems
of being black.
At Maxey he wrote about "some black
problems, some white problems." But since
he's come out and his interests have focused
increasingly on the Organization, his scope
has narrowed. "Now I write about my peo-
ple," he says firmly.
"I get mad about people getting knocked
up all the time," he explains. My writing
is 'bad' meaning good) now because its
about my people."
He readily identifies himself as a "mili-
tant coming into revolutionary." Revolution,
as Ted sees, it, is aimed at liberation. And
the poet is uniquely suited to be a good
revolutionary.
"Some people, if the revolution comes, will
look back at the past and read. The writer
will always be recognized. A person who
writes and thinks will always be on top
because he knows his moves and motives."
Ted knows that survival is gained only by
staying on top; he couldn't live in the inner
city of Detroit any other way. But his poetry
has given him a new way to attack an old
problem-the writer and thinker, people who
know themselves and can articulate what
they know-these people stay on top.
BUT TED'S feeling for his writing makes
it more than a tool for survival; it is the

means by which a gentle and sensitive poet
confronts his environment.
"I like to keep a person puzzled about me,"
he says. "I never reveal all of myself, only
half,";A subtle uncel'taintly pricks the
bravado; pei'haps he, too, is puzzled about
himself, and trying in his poetry to come to
terms with feelings that don't quite jive
with the Organization.
Mona Hass, a teacher at Maxey and good
friend of Ted's says, "He is one of a kind at
Maxey. Most of the kids here have no sense
of unity or comradeship, no insight into
themselves. Ted was different. He's sensitive
and has insight-he can feel for other peo-
ple as well as himself."
The truth of this is apparent both in talk-
ing to Ted and in reading his poetry. Al-
though the Organization may claim his
political and social awareness, his sensitive
awareness of life in himself and other peo-
ple is tied to his poetry. He says quite simply,
almost naively, "I love my writing-you
know that."
ROY McNEELY, another Maxey teacher,
thinks that Ted's love of writing may
eventually be the thing that keeps him from
going back to the streets and Maxey. Ted
himself has no intention of going back to'
Maxey, although 75 per cent of the inmates
do return.
"All these kids come in here with some
kind of hang-up," McNeely explains. "Ted
found his answer in poetry. He was looking
for some kind of acceptability in the world
outside the Organization. Poetry gives him
that acceptablility."
And so Ted Stewart, poet and militant,
writes of basic human values in the passion-
ate rhetoric of black pride. And a boy who
has no reason but himself to believe in the
future keeps his faith.
"When we get together as one people," he
says, "then we'll be able to take the next
step and be one with all people."

FROM THE BROTHERS
There are some sisters
That we would
Like to meet
They might even say hello
To the week
Sisters why do you look so
Sweet and neat
And don't worry about
Yourself at the peak
Because you have to know that
Your beautiful black bodies is love
And your soul is a dove
We wonder are there
Some sisters
Like this to be loved.
SISTERS DON'T CRY
You think the brothers do not love you.
But you are wrong.
You know it is all right
To be black
But you don't to
Be black and not proud

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