I am very surprised at the degree to which reading of Sekou Sundiata'a passing struck me just now, and I'm trying to understand it. I was introduced to his work at the first Dodge festival I attended, and I had a chance last year to sit in on a couple of his smaller events. People have been referring to him as a "performance poet", and he certainly was that - in his craft discussion, he mentioned that he tended to want to produce a CD, not a book, when he was compiling his poems. But when I asked him what might be different about writing for the ear as opposed to the page (which is how I interpreted his comment), he gently pushed back on my assumption. He clearly wanted his work to be an experience in print or in person - an event no matter how it was encountered - he just seemed to think of the CD as the way he would present the work first.
He had a quiet but forceful presence at the microphone, the kind that for me that makes clear the distinction between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance says "I have had these experiences and I know things better than you and I will tell you them now. Sit down and listen." Confidence says "I have had these experiences and I'm going to talk for a while now. You might want to listen." His presence was augmented by a great set of pipes - the kind of effortless bass that baritones with aspirations of C like me can't help but envy.
I've been looking for links to audio files of some of what he presented in his Dodge appearances so I can talk more about how he adjusted his work in real time, and how the crowd began to create our own rhythms in response to his, but I can't find them. Maybe later.
In the meantime, here are a few links. If you never heard him speak, find some audio below and give a listen. You won't be disappointed. I'm going to go stick Longstoryshort in the player and close my eyes.