The Coffee Will Make You Black
Reading Group's On-line Chat Transcript for Our April Selection

Click to buy this bookThe Essential Etheridge Knight
(Click title or book to order online)

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Pub. Date: November  1990

Etheridge Knight
(Click to learn about author)

This Discussion Occurred
May 3rd 2000 9:00 PM EST

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[tabonnefee] hey Thumper ... how are you this evening?

Thumper6488> Hello tabonnefee, I'm doing well. and you

[tabonnefee] I'm REALLY tired

Thumper6488> You can't be! You da modern black woman.

[tabonnefee] well get over it cause I'm tired!!!

Thumper6488> LOL

[tabonnefee] I can't wait until this school year is over ... I'm too old for

- kids!!

[tabonnefee] so tell me ... how are you going to discuss this book with out

- the book?

Thumper6488> good memory and excellent wit. *smile*

[tabonnefee] lol...touche

Thumper6488> I thought so. *smile* So how did you like the book?

[tabonnefee] well ... being a writer of poetry I enjoyed looking into his

- world ... I found some of his poems a bit redundant though

Thumper6488> Really? The love poems?

[tabonnefee] even his incarceration (sp?) poems

[tabonnefee] I just think that some of the poems should have been selected

- out due to repetitive themes

>> careycarey has joined channel #XC.1141852

[tabonnefee] and the pictures that his words painted

[tabonnefee] well looky here ...trouble

>> careycarey has left channel #XC.1141852

[tabonnefee] I must have upset him

>> careycarey has joined channel #XC.1141852

[tabonnefee] all right Carey ...STAY!!!

Thumper6488> He got on the computer without Miss Ann knowing about it...and

- she caught him on it.

[tabonnefee] lol ... you know you're wrong Thumper!

[careycarey] Okay, I must have hit the wrong key, You can't get rid of me

- that easy!

[careycarey] Hi to you too.

[tabonnefee] can

Thumper6488> And yet, we still dream

[tabonnefee] ^5 Thumper

[careycarey] Pk what's on the table?

[tabonnefee] hello Carey ... how are you this evening?

Thumper6488> ^5 tabonnefee

[careycarey] Just fine ---and yourself?

[tabonnefee] tired

Thumper6488> Hello Carey

[careycarey] Hey thump have I missed anything?

Thumper6488> Nope, we were just getting started.

[tabonnefee] brb

Thumper6488> Carey, how did you like the book.

[careycarey] Well.... It made me feel dumb....haha

humper6488> Hello Carey

[careycarey] Hey thump have I missed anything?

Thumper6488> Nope, we were just getting started.

[tabonnefee] brb

Thumper6488> Carey, how did you like the book.

[careycarey] Well.... It made me feel dumb....haha

[careycarey] I mean I just don't get it most of the time.

Thumper6488> I understand.

[careycarey] I do however have my favorites

[tabonnefee] back ... that's the way poetry is Carey

[careycarey] What about you two?

[careycarey] What do you mean T?

[tabonnefee] at times I believe the only one that truly understands a poem

- is the poet himself

Thumper6488> You know, it took a college english class before I learned how

- to read poetry

[tabonnefee] poetry is highly subjective

[careycarey] But, I still think others must be getting more from this than

- me.

Thumper6488> that could be

[careycarey] How to read portry???

Thumper6488> Yep, how to read poetry.

Thumper6488> I learned in an english lit class

[careycarey] Okay... qick leason please.

Thumper6488> I have to read each word, line and then pause

Thumper6488> Usually, especially with knight, there's more things happening

Thumper6488> than what's at eye level

[careycarey] don't get me wrong I THINK I can think with the best but I

- think theres a rythm I'm missing.

Thumper6488> You could very well be missing it

[careycarey] Yeah!

Thumper6488> I've heard Knight on several occasions

Thumper6488> so it wasn't hard for me to read in the rhythm in which he read

- his poems

[careycarey] That reminds me thump . Does your mother do something in his

- regard?

Thumper6488> What regard is that

[careycarey] Boy, that would help a lot (hearing him)....Does see have a

- knight , night or something

[careycarey] Where did you hear him speek?

[careycarey] speak

Thumper6488> OK, I'm going to come clean. Until he passed, I heard him all

- of my life. He's my uncle.

[careycarey] REALLY!

>> tabonnefee has left channel #XC.1141852

Thumper6488> Yeap. Troy knew all along. He's been keeping it a secret for

- me.

[careycarey] Now that's some interesting S*it.

Thumper6488> Naw, not really.

[careycarey] I will refrain from asking alll the questions that has just

- exploded in my head!...why not really?

>> tabonnefee has joined channel #XC.1141852

[tabonnefee] so what did I miss?

Thumper6488> Well, I never thought of him as really a famous person or

- anything. He was jsut Uncle Jr. to me.

[careycarey] I think I was tipped off by troy, but I wasn't sure. I think It

- was when he asked for e-mails of the regulars.

[tabonnefee] hello?

Thumper6488> Hello

[careycarey] Hello T,

[tabonnefee] lol ...what are the two of you talking about?

[careycarey] Nothing, what poems did you like?

[careycarey] I'll jump in with mine next.

[tabonnefee] uh uhn ... must have been something

Thumper6488> I just confessed to being Knight's nephew.

[careycarey] Forget it girl or look up the list. Haha

[careycarey] T ain't that the s*it?!

[tabonnefee] oooohhhh .. I see Thumper (I'm ignoring Carey)

Thumper6488> Believe it or not, Troy suggested the book.

[tabonnefee] well I said in the e-mail, I'm partial to the haiku

[careycarey] Thump, okay the naptown connection i

[careycarey] T will you explain haiku to me.

[tabonnefee] Haiku is a japanese form ... three lines ...first line is 5

- syllables, 2nd line is 7, and then 3rd is back to 5

[tabonnefee] themes center around nature

[tabonnefee] and it is that nature theme that brings the irony to Knight's

- haiku

[careycarey] Oh.. so why is it a favorite of yours? Irony?

Thumper6488> how so, give us an example

[tabonnefee] I don't find anything natural about what he writes yet it must

- be natural to him

[tabonnefee] or must have been

[careycarey] Whats not natural about his writing...explain.

Thumper6488> what about the hakius concerning Indpls and other cities

[tabonnefee] when I think of haiku and the nature theme I think about

- meandering brooks ... swelling waves ... erratic paths of butterflies ...

[tabonnefee] I don't think of...

[tabonnefee] Easter guard tower

[tabonnefee] glints in sunset;convicts rest

[tabonnefee] like lizards on rocks.

[tabonnefee] so's the irony that draws me to his haiku

Thumper6488> but wouldn't that be nature to a prisoner?

[careycarey] So why do you think he chose to call them haiku, if they don't

- apply?

[careycarey] Good point thump.

[tabonnefee] carey ...I didn't say that it didn't apply

[careycarey] Okay

[tabonnefee] if you look at my comment earlier I said it isn't natural TO ME

- ...but must have been for him

[tabonnefee] I thought women were the ones that didn't listen!!!

[careycarey] OKAY! *smile*

Thumper6488> Oh, I gotcha

[tabonnefee] his "state" related haiku is a bit more conventional

[tabonnefee] I didn't like those as well

[careycarey] You two will have to excuse me a minute. I have to leave a

- second.

[tabonnefee] ok Carey ... tell Miss Ann we said

Thumper6488> and you talk about me....

Thumper6488> smile

[tabonnefee] so Thumper ... you liked For Freckle-Faced Gerald?

Thumper6488> Thanks for bringing that up

[tabonnefee] my pleasure

Thumper6488> did you find out the significance of the first verse

[careycarey] I'm back

[tabonnefee] you'll have to pardon my ignorance with Baldwin ...I'm playing

catch-up in my adult AA reading

[tabonnefee] welcome back Carey

[careycarey] What was tyhe significance thump I have my own thoughts

Thumper6488> The first verse is based on the premise of James Baldwin's

Another Country. In which a black Jazz musician

[tabonnefee] so the answer is no ... I didn't find the significance of the

verse verse

Thumper6488> who has a relationship with a white woman, eventually helps

drive the woman insane and then kills himself by jumping off a bridge

Thumper6488> and that's jsut the beginning of the book

[careycarey] Really, and why do you say that?

Thumper6488> Because the characters name is Rufus and he jumps off a bridge

to kill himself

Thumper6488> And ifyou re read the first verse of For Gerald poem, that's

who he's talking about, I think

[tabonnefee] that's a pretty literal interpretation Carey ... not much of

the imagination needed

[tabonnefee] I would say you're correct Thumper

[careycarey] I thougth the bridge was the tier of a jail house. and he cops

out and kills himself rather than face the others and gerald demise.

Thumper6488> thank you melady. You know I just live for your approval.


[tabonnefee] lol...yeah yeah yeah Thumper

[careycarey] Was rufus not a (tree jumper)?

[careycarey] Rapist?

Thumper6488> I would say that.

Thumper6488> He beat the tar out of her though

Thumper6488> I meant wouldn't

[tabonnefee] Thumper ... is that your sole reason for liking the poem?

Thumper6488> No, actually, I like the whole thing

Thumper6488> the Baldwin reference took me to another level, another depth

Thumper6488> for it brought in another story and dimension to what the poem

was about

ate as

- gerald.

[careycarey] He's a rapist and they raped gerald. Ironic????

Thumper6488> Yes, Rufus committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

[careycarey] Okay, how does this fit in with the rest of the poem?

Thumper6488> You know Carey, I was wondering if Gerald was raped or not.

[careycarey] WONDERING!

Thumper6488> Yeah

[tabonnefee] I thought he was

[careycarey] It wasobvious to me.

Thumper6488> My interpretation was that suicide was an alternative and maybe

Gerald ought to think

- about it.

[tabonnefee] figuratively and literally

Thumper6488> It was like man, you're gettin' punked, can't whip nobody, and

being raped on top of it,

- just kill yourself

[tabonnefee] how was it an option when the reference to sacrilege was made well as saying that

- Rufus copped out

[careycarey] the reference ot south to north was the tip off. suicide is

always an option but the poem

- didn't suggest that he should.

Thumper6488> good question.

[tabonnefee] hmmm.... poetry ...lots of questions ...few

[careycarey] I liked ,the poem It was a funky deal.

Thumper6488> One of the few about Malcolm

[careycarey] Nothing profound just straight funky.

[careycarey] Did you find your book Thump"?

Thumper6488> The funny one was I sing thee of Shine

Thumper6488> No.

Thumper6488> I can get another copy though. *smile*

[careycarey] Thump, isn't here a whole series of shine jokes?

Thumper6488> Yes, but this is the only one I knew.

[careycarey] Thump, I must ask, did Knight fight a drug problem all his


Thumper6488> He use to say it to me and myu cousin when were little tomake

us laugh

[careycarey] Yeah my uncles did too.

Thumper6488> Yes\

[careycarey] How did he die.?

[careycarey] There was a lot of references to drug use, so I thought so.

Thumper6488> Yes, he had a major drug problem. He would go in and out of


[careycarey] Did he keep his habit up in jail or pick it up after he got


[tabonnefee] Carey ....which one was your favorite?

Thumper6488> Actually, I believe he got hooked when he was in the Army

fighting in the Korean War

[careycarey] I hae a few T....give me a minute to grab my book.

[tabonnefee] ok

[careycarey] Now my picks a probably not profound ones but they are mine

[tabonnefee] and we will not begrudge you your picks

[careycarey] He they are....Cop-out session.

[careycarey] Belly song

[tabonnefee] I liked Belly Song ... very visual piece

[careycarey] Rehabilitation & Treatment...

[careycarey] and

[careycarey] hard Rock

[careycarey] That's mine.

[careycarey] What do you think?

[tabonnefee] just affective responses?

Thumper6488> I like hard rock too. The English class I took, we study Hard


[tabonnefee] no real deep meaning to you?

[careycarey] T what do you mean?

[careycarey] How did you study it Thump, I mean whats to study

[tabonnefee] Carey ... did those poems bring up some issues or did you just

read them and think, "I

- like the flow of that one"

Thumper6488> Hard Rock is the one I was taught how to read poetry on.

[careycarey] Of course, they brought out issues Yet it's impossible to

express them here. Really I can

- get into it!

[careycarey] You'd have to hear my voice and all that.

[careycarey] I don't typr welll enough to do my thoughts justice on them.

[tabonnefee] Carey ... poems don't always bring out issues for me... usually

I just like tthe flow and

- the surface meaning

[careycarey] Okay thump, what was there to learn about Hard Rock?

Thumper6488> shoulders hunched*

[careycarey] I see your point T, yet this one was more than surface. I can't

find a flow generally so

- if it's not an issue it gets away from me.

Thumper6488> I learned that I was reading it too fast

Thumper6488> that he described the whole prison experience in Hard Rock,

along with the attitudes of

- the other

[tabonnefee] always read poetry many times ... first run should just be to

take in the words

Thumper6488> inmates and guards and how they related to Hard Rock

[tabonnefee] then read for the punctuation and stresses

ate as

[tabonnefee] then look for symbollic meaning

[tabonnefee] poetry is a mess to read ...MUCH easier to

[careycarey] Hard Rock was a fallen heroe. He was everything others wnated

to be but couldn't be.

Thumper6488> And what was Hard Rock's downfall?

[careycarey] Mess is right least for me. but I do enjoy some


[careycarey] Down fall??

Thumper6488> Sure

Thumper6488> What happened to Hard Rock?

[tabonnefee] his downfall was his rep...which was erased by the powers that


[careycarey] I think he didn't no when to fold'em

Thumper6488> What about the sphyllis he had?

[careycarey] I don't think it was his rep it was who he was.

[careycarey] Did he really have sphyliss?

[tabonnefee] no

Thumper6488> There's a line that explain about his sphyllic spit.

[careycarey] Lets face it . He was just an hard rock brother who others look

up to.

Thumper6488> He had VD and it rotted out his brain

[careycarey] Yeah thump but they also discounted that.

Thumper6488> How?

[careycarey] Please Thump, where'd you get that funk from??

Thumper6488> It's in the poem. I'm not making it up.

[careycarey] Don't make me break the book out on you.

[tabonnefee] I thought the syphilitic spit was more symbolic of some other

societal epidemic

Thumper6488> Carey: did you read this book by yourself? Didn't I tell you

to have Miss Ann read the

- book TO YOU!? *LOL*

[tabonnefee] lol Thumper

[careycarey] Okay I'm reaching for the book.......Actually I read many of

the poems to Ann.

[tabonnefee] what was the need for electroshock therapy then?

[careycarey] Plaese y'all, the boy was simply one of those grade A fools who

the white man had to bring

- down.

Thumper6488> to take the aggression out of him

[careycarey] Yep!!!

[careycarey] Now your talking thump

[tabonnefee] but if syphillis had taken his brain there wouldn't have been a

need for all that because

- he would have died

Thumper6488> Well, I like to think that I was doing that all along. *eyebrow


[tabonnefee] lol.. you two are a mess

[careycarey] Did anyone like Welcome Back Mr Knight?

Thumper6488> Love of my life!?!

Thumper6488> That one was funny when it shouldn't have been. but I laughed


[careycarey] Yes sir.

[careycarey] You laughed, why what?

[tabonnefee] I enjoyed that one...can't say that I laughed though

Thumper6488> Because, it was him. He was being straight up, totally honest

in his portrayal of himself

[careycarey] Oh I forgot Thumper lost his book he might be getting poems

mixed up!

[tabonnefee] I see it was more a laugh from an inside joke kind of


Thumper6488> It was more a laugh of recognicition (sp)

Thumper6488> How can I tell it.

Thumper6488> Uncle Jr. was the type of Uncle that you read about in books

Thumper6488> the one that always blows into town, you have a good time with

him. and then he leaves

[tabonnefee] that's my Uncle Slick

[careycarey] Thump, did he have a white women. (usually)

Thumper6488> It was only until I grew up that I recognize how strong he was

Thumper6488> Yes, usually. Much to the dismay of my mother.

Thumper6488> But he had one great love, and she was/is a black woman

careycarey] Some poems seem to be talking about his children is that true.?

Thumper6488> Yes.

[careycarey] Poems from Prison. Is it simular, and have you read it?

Thumper6488> Many of the poems from Poems from Prison is in The Essential

[tabonnefee] so Thumper ... do you favor your uncle?

Thumper6488> The Essential is more like a Greatest Hits book.

Thumper6488> No

[tabonnefee] lol...just checking

Thumper6488> Except for my hair loss, and my ability to cuss

[tabonnefee] LOL...ok

[careycarey] I thought many had a prison vibe.

Thumper6488> but then my father could cuss too

[tabonnefee] honey ...I can cuss too!!!

Thumper6488> LOL

[careycarey] His uncle seems to be slim......*smile*

Thumper6488> Slim?

[careycarey] Never mind.....T-bone lets hear your favorite

[tabonnefee] my favorite? ....hmmm....

[careycarey] And of course you'll have to break it down for us mortals

[tabonnefee] Another Poem for Me (after Recovering from an O.D.)

[tabonnefee] you need to hush Carey

[careycarey] Mum

[tabonnefee] and no,, there is no deep reason ... just felt the words

[careycarey] His uncle seems to be slim......*smile*

Thumper6488> Slim?

[careycarey] Never mind.....T-bone lets hear your favorite

[tabonnefee] my favorite? ....hmmm....

[careycarey] And of course you'll have to break it down for us mortals

[tabonnefee] Another Poem for Me (after Recovering from an O.D.)

[tabonnefee] you need to hush Carey

[careycarey] Mum

[tabonnefee] and no,, there is no deep reason ... just felt the words

[tabonnefee] I felt he was very honest in his words

[careycarey] And????/why. Now that's a cop out.

[tabonnefee] oh well .. .too bad

[careycarey] hahahah

Thumper6488> Careyyyyy, she's tired.

[tabonnefee] lol...thanks Thumper

Thumper6488> Hey, It's time to go.

Thumper6488> We've ran 30 minutes over.

[careycarey] Actually, I enjoyed that also!

[tabonnefee] what's next up?

Thumper6488> Next up is Pictures of A Dying Man

[careycarey] Boy time has past very quickly.

Thumper6488> And the author will be here

Thumper6488> I know.

[tabonnefee] who is it by?

Thumper6488> I enjoyed myself.

[careycarey] Who's the author?

[careycarey] Me too!

[tabonnefee] me three

[careycarey] Who's the author!!!!!

[careycarey] Thump must have lost his book.

Thumper6488> Argymah Kamu

[careycarey] OOOOHH.H

Thumper6488> Agymah Kamau

Thumper6488> Now, so there

[tabonnefee] lol

Thumper6488> Carey are you going to have Miss Ann read you this one.

[tabonnefee] you the man Thumper!!!

[careycarey] Okay you two , It's been fun I'm gone.

[tabonnefee] lol

Thumper6488> OK, you all bye, see you next month.

[tabonnefee] night Carey ... I know it's past your bedtime

[careycarey] Really Thump Why so?

[tabonnefee] night Thumper

Thumper6488> why?

[careycarey] Yep, Why should a

[careycarey] Ann read this one?

Thumper6488> Well, I thought you might need a little help with the print and


[tabonnefee] Carey ... it's not that Miss Ann needs to read it ...she needs

to read it TO YOU!!

[careycarey] See, I thought you were serious. but you are still a


Thumper6488> Have Miss Ann read it to you in bed, when you're cuddle up with

your fuzzy Ernegizer bunny

- rabbit

[careycarey] BI

Thumper6488> bye LOL

[tabonnefee] night you two