Christine Otten //
De Laatste Dichters is the story of the Last Poets, the legendary African-American group of militant poets and civil rights activists. Their tumultuous lives are turned by Christine Otten into an powerful novel where emotions and frustrations are translated into poems, facts into fiction and mesmerizing thoughts into action.
The Last Poets were founded at the end of the 1960s as a group of poets to rally against the huge injustices faced in Harlem, New York. They're a hugely influential group, whose revolutionary manner of reciting poems over music laid the path for hip hop to evolve ten years later.
Although the group's founding members were Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain en David Nelson, it was Jalal Mansur Nurridin, Umar Bin Hassah, Abiodun Oyewolde and the percussionist Nilaja Obabi who broke through in 1970 with their first record, Last Poets, produced by Alan Douglas. The group went on to make many albums with a varying cast of members and styles. Recently they've collaborated with hip hop luminaries Common, Kanye West and Malik & The OG's, and were the subject of the documentary Made in Amerikkka in 2008.
Otten was inspired to go to America to discover more about the Last Poets, and was intrigued by what she found. Stories from the poets themselves, but also from their wives, families, friends and fellow musicians. Unbelievably heavy, but beautiful, tales that fed Otten's fascination (or disgust) for the themes of impotence, ignorance and how to react against them through art.
The spellbinding way in which these stories are told draws the reader deep into the different lives of the characters spread across America in Detroit, New York, Ohio and Mississippi. Unpredictable, erratic lives that can only be related in the same style. It's a remarkable novel. Just as with the Poets, and the rest of Otten's work, music plays a vital role here; every story is one told through prose, poetry and music.
text by E. de Loor / transl. by W. Georgi / photo by Andre dos Santos
Booktunes 8 brings you the music to accompany this Otten novel. The Last Poets themselves are represented here, inspirational songs and the tunes being mentioned in the novel. Because here at Booktunes we do realize you might miss some important songs in our iTunes compilation, we would like to share a link to this mixtape
by DJ Love Supreme. He made it especially for the powerful play by theatre company MC. They recently staged De Laatste Dichters...
guess who were part of the crowd?