Are You Andoumboulou?



Are You Andoumboulou?
By D. Scot Miller for San Francisco Weekly

Nathaniel Mackey begins his poem "Spectral Escort" with the lines, "Not exactly a boat or/ not only a boat … / Weathervane, boat/ flag rolled into one." Whether as vehicle, compass, or guide, Mackey's book Splay Anthem takes the reader to uncharted poetic spaces, tracing a lost tribe through waking and dreamtime. The winner of the National Book Award for 2006, Splay Anthem is composed of two ongoing serial poems that Mackey has been writing and speaking for more than 20 years: "Mu" and "Song of the Andoumboulou."



"Andoumboulou are a failed, earlier form of human being in the Dogon cosmogony," explains Mackey in the introduction. "The Andoumboulou live underground, inhabiting holes in the earth." Mackey also co-edited the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (one of the few books to capture Cecil Taylor's poetry on the page), and has been the editor of the Afro-surrealists' literary journal of note, Hambone, for the past three decades. Tonight, Mackey appears with Hafez Modirzadeh, a saxophonist, teacher, and music theorist who played on Mackey's CD, Strick: Song of Andoumboulou 16-25, and is a longtime member of the avant-garde ensemble Anthony Brown's Asian American Orchestra. They are joined by Canadian poet Wayde Compton and British Poet D. S. Marriott, whose book title, Ingcognegro, is worth the price of admission alone.