Conversations Magazine ~ All About BOOKS

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tony Lindsay Presents... "Sterling Plumpp"

To refer to him as a Jazz or Blues poet would limit the scope of his pen; although, he is a Jazz and Blues poet.

To refer to him as a Black Arts Movement poet would restrict poignancy of his prose; although, he is a Black Arts Movement Poet. To say he is English professor would curtail the didactic verbiage he has used to mold the minds of young scribes for decades; although, he is Professor Emeritus from the University of Illinois. Perhaps, Poet in the Greek will do.

Sterling D. Plumpp is called a poet’s poet due to his use of vernacular, syntax, and word choice. A word, a line, a stanza, a poem of Plumpp’s will send a readers mind in various directions.  ‘XVI. Sixteen’ from Ornate With Smoke takes one on such a multi tenet journey.  

XVI. Sixteen
Worlds collide inside my axe
each time
I solo

I learn to speak
tenor on the page

I learn
other saxophone languages
even those from under foot
notes of Tranes
I did not yet ride

So I
come to you asking
if I can be a bird
house boy bumming
rides from your solos in
to kitchen
pots and pans some
body’s great grand
mother played when her sweet
daddy done
done her wrong

rides into yesterday
with two or three stops in tomorrow
or bumming through midnight today
with two or three stops into day
breaks a thousand years ago

Can I be a bird
house boy with a pen
to blow his years clear of
the leaves memory sheds in autumn

I play
cynanide rhythms
for hurricanes

I do
I do
I do
rag on line
I do
I do
I do rag time

Because I
con breaks

con breaks
con breaks
con breaks

I do
I do
I do
rag time

The dedication of Ornate with Smoke reads, “For Fred Anderson: improviser.” Anderson was a Jazz saxophonist who died in June 24th 2010. The work was published in ’97, Anderson got to appreciate the book and hear the notes Sterling Plumpp wrote for him.

Tony Lindsay is an award-winning author and adjunct professor at Chicago State University. His new book ONE DEAD DOCTOR is available now on He can be reached at or on Facebook at

1 comment:

  1. Umm I had to read this article more than once to grasp its message. Nothing to do with the writer but several words had me running to my dictionary, but I so enjoy a challenge and a challenge with PALABRAS excites me even more.Very interesting story!