George Elliott Clarke dedicates poem to 'iconic iconoclast' Joan Jones
Clarke praised her 'words smoking in triumphant power-plays' and 'panther rhetoric'
George Elliott Clarke has written a poem dedicated to civil rights activist Joan Jones, praising her "words smoking in triumphant power-plays" and "panther rhetoric."
Jones was a key figure in civil rights organizations in Nova Scotia, including the Black United Front and the Nova Scotia Project. She died last week at 79.
Clarke, a longtime friend of Jones and Canada's former parliamentary poet laureate, said people used to congregate at the home she shared with ex-husband Burnley (Rocky) Jones. It was there those involved in activism shaped their ideas.
Her friends said Jones positioned herself behind the scenes, avoiding the limelight, but always advocating for justice and equality for the black community.
Jones was also a founder of Black History month in Halifax. Her funeral was in Halifax on Monday.
Read George Elliott Clarke's poem below:
For "Saint" Joan
"Underprivileged" was our blackness until
You enacted the pinnacle Symbol:
Africadia's Angela Davis --
Elegantly bony, Afro'd goddess
Of War--Minerva--our egerie (muse),
Iconic iconoclast.... To refuse
Silence, diss quislings obsequious,
Was thy mandate. Rather, Vesuvius
Volcanic--cigarettes and eyes ablaze,
Words smoking in triumphant power-plays,
Appalling all the pallid parliaments
Unable to palliate Belligerence
That was bella; that was you, beautiful:
Sass! That was your style! Such natural chic
In buffalo-stance, panther rhetoric,
Loud spunk or spite, yet soulful attitude.
Militancy was your beatitude
In strutting stride, but strident your laughter —
With smoke for halo (spice trailing after —
Likely curry). Black-leather-serious,
Down-to-earth in denim, mysterious
In mood, your smile was eloquent even
When you frowned, cussed, or yelled. In your Heaven,
God welcomes push-back, protest, and doesn't
Mind changing His mind. If debate wasn't
There, it'd not be Paradise, anyway,
But boring. And that's not your -- or God's -- way.