It's the calm before the storm. Camping at Mackerricher State Park, the quiet and the disconnect, coming home to an empty house, putting away the gear, taking a power shower and settling on clean sheets...none of this spoke of his death, or maybe it did...Emails come with a ding, a microsoft sound that doesn't chime but points to itself. And often ignored. Until one after another..Elmaz, have you heard? Elmaz you probably know.
Now I do. Reginald Lockett has died and he is gone. He is a poet and he is Oakland--for those who don't know him--He is the author of Random History Lessons, Good Times & No Bread, The Party Crasher of Paradise and Where the Birds Sing Bass, which won a PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 1996. His poetry, articles, and reviews have been published in over fifty anthologies, periodicals, and textbooks. He has a new volume, Bro. Radio, which is scheduled to be published in 2008. In addition to writing, Lockett teaches at San Jose City College and performs with the WordWind Chorus in Oakland, Calif., where he lives. http://alyoung.org/index.php/whats-at-stake/
Reggie was history to me. One of my first parties with him was on my own patio. He and Ishmael Reed and some other brothers from the day were recounting Black Panther History with nostalgia and admiration for their own part in changing up the crazy and racist time of those times. All these men so sentimental about the takeovers and programs, and scaring up some people by intergrating this swimming pool and that movie house.
Reggie's poetry sang good. We shared a few readings. I blurbed When the Birds Sing Bass and Party Crashers -- he nominated me for a PEN award. His poems also told stories in jazz licks and papa-by-the-fire voice
Reggie was a voice. The birds sang bass and so did he -- a resounding, reverberating rock-hard basso, in speech and song. He was like that fourth Temptation who could say the low part of the song.
I met Reggie through my friend Quincy Troupe when he was doing a reading at San Jose City College. Quincy, Reggie and I, now this is like 1992, sat in Reggie's office and young brothers, Reggie's students, came in one after the other. Did they have real business with him? Or was it that they needed to see, listen and learn from his very presence? He was mentor and shepherd.
Reggie is Oakland--not just the history, but every part of the city. He walked the lake, went to the gym, picked non-seeded fruits at the farmer's market. He gardened in his father's back yard and scanned shelves at Marcus Books. Home grown and loyal to his city. He also founded PEN Oakland (along with Floyd Salas and Clare Ortalda) because we were not gonna be left out. That history is here http://penoakland.org/
He taught, he read, he loved...he was an activist, a brother and a voice
Finally, he was a great supporter of VONA (www.voicesatvona.org) and he performed and hosted benefits and readings and sat on our board.
I got the need, got the need to talk to him, over by the columns or up by the Grand Lake Theater. Where's he?
Causes Elmaz Abinader Supports