Sunday, March 4, 2012


The living air has been knocked out of us all. Comrade Louis Reyes Rivera made his transition yesterday at 9:01 PM, Friday March 2nd, 2012. A real revolutionary died. Fuck the euphemisims!

We have lost a Revolutionary Radical Poet, a Scholar of world literature and a Committed Artist of the People. He brought not only insight, but a skilled practice of the Black Arts Movement and a radical artistic standard to our journalistic and artistic expression, in other words he was responsible for bringing our aesthetics to a higher level of standard and insight.

Comrade Louis Reyes Rivera was never seduced by celebrity culture or  having  people live vicariously through his art.  He wanted us to seek the conditions of the people, and then to encourage their resistance to barbarism. Louis' artist workshop was geared  to achieving a deeper understanding of the role of art, and how to create an art of resistance, thus laying the foundation for self-determination.

Comrade Louis Reyes Rivera was more than an intellectual, he was a w/c visionary. Through family ties, he became the son-in-law of John Oliver Killens. Comrade Louis Reyes Rivera grasped a connection between culture and revolt --during and after the World War II period --through Comrade John Oliver Killens who produced "Then We Heard The Thunder," and other works that portray Black/Latino working class characters as human, and the US ascendant class actors.
Comrade Rivera posited the notion that art is the soul and sensibilities of a people, and that it has to be taken seriously, if they are to be free. This is consistent with the heart of WEB DuBois, Lukasch, Walter Benjamin, MAO, Fanon....That is to say, you cannot fight the enemy while waving his/her  flag.
What should we do?
That is the quandary that challenges us now.
Comrade Rivera demanded an answer.
This is the prime directive of activistic investigation at this historical juncture. It is the question that must gnaw at any genuine COMMUNIST INTELLECTUAL-- (CLASS FOR ITSELF) cultural worker in the 21st century.
Comrade Rivera continued this tradition in his poetry, epitomize by the anti-racist poetic tract: "Why?"
Description of WHY? by Comrade Rivera:

The poem begin with the scream of a bullet as it careens towards the person of Malcolm X. Here Louis shows how an inanimate object also existed in a moral order of right and wrong and this would be Brother Louis' moral ground of all his art.

Comrade Louis was more than fearless intellectually, as an artist, teacher/professor he was scholastically prepared to defend the right of a people to socially define themselves. His art has expressed the humanity within "us" and the joys of our urban swagger. While Resistance and Self-definition (i.e., corporate-sponsored, multicultural, social identity politics , a.k.a. Afro-Coonery) were to be the centerpieces  of  the so-called Black Aesthetic, Comrade Louis continued teaching and organizing. He stook to his revolutionary guns.

Rivera's poetry of resistance of crowded subways, the moral dilemma of bullets killing Black revolutionaries in a rented ball room, where Detroit Red dies as "X." The great and beautiful mother and grand mother of the Bronx near Bath Gate Ave., a scroll from Boston Road speaking Spanish about getting his small butt home on time. Who, he himself became "a tough" in the neighborhood to use his fearlessness to explain the world to us all.

Who would share "Jazz in Jail" pass the great hills of Puerto Rico, eating Mary Janes hard candies in the Bronx before coming to Brooklyn with a hard fist of self-determining poems of the people and the people alone.
    "Then We heard the Thunder..."
                            and it whispered   
                                           Louis Reyes Rivera.....
                                               As the air
                                                  comes back in
                                     of memories and resistance.

[Comrade Louis Reyes Rivera was known by other poets as the  "Janitor of History," not a name that I used he was a  poet and essayist  has been studying his craft since 1960, and teaching it since 1969. The recipient of over 20 awards or more,  as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award back in 1995, and earlier a Special Congressional Recognition Award in 1988, and before that the CCNY 125th Anniversary Medal back in 1973. I know that Louis helped publish well over 200 books, including John Oliver Killens' GREAT BLACK RUSSIAN     

Considered by many as a necessary bridge between the African and Latino American communities, he is a professor of Pan-African, African-American, Caribbean and Puerto Rican literature and history whose essays and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Areyto, Boletin, The City Sun, African Voices, and in five award-winning collections: In Defense of Mumia; ALOUD: Live from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Of Sons And Lovers, Bum Rush The Page, and his own Scattered      

From 1996 until his passing, Comrade Rivera hosted a bi-monthly Jazzoetry & Open Mic @ Sistas' Place (where he also conducts his writing workshop) in Brooklyn, and has appeared in Jazz clubs and festivals with The Sun Ra All-Stars Project, Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora, and his own band Scripture.

I remembered seeing him on Russell Simmons' DEF POETRY on HBO. And we used to be able to hear  the comrade every Thursday, at 2pm, on radio station WBAI (99.5 FM), hosting his own weekly show PERSPECTIVE (From 1996 to 2009 I think) before the powers that be at WBAI (Pacifica's liberal crackahs of all colors) bumped him off without explaination.   -- Comrade Sekou OSEI ] 

pavane, pavan [pəˈvɑːn -ˈvæn ˈpævən] n
1. (Performing Arts / Dancing) a slow and stately dance of the 16th and 17th centuries
2. (Music / Classical Music) a piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance, usually characterized by a slow stately triple time
[C16 pavan, via French from Spanish pavana, from Old Italian padovana Paduan (dance), from Padova Padua]


1 comment:

  1. Well said, brother.

    Attending Louis Reyes-Rivera's writing workshops helped me develop a better journalistic voice.

    I remember going to Sistas' Place to hear his poetry and a jazz trio. I was captivated by his poem about a tree.