Understand one thing before beginning this memorable literary journey: C. Liegh McInnis does not come to play. The author/independent publisher’s latest dynamic work, Da Black Book of Linguistic Liberation is testimony. Don’t let the talk about “rainbows forever” in McInnis’ acknowledgements mislead you. His written words strike with sniper-like precision, rattling the minds of the complacent, ignorant, and politically indifferent like injections from a caffeine-filled syringe.
From the opening words, titled “Black Man,”--with phrases like, “[i] created remedial education for Socrates/[i] was the one who suggested the elephant to Hannibal/the donkey to Jesus, and the Cadillac to Rev. Ike”--Da Black Book of Linguistic Liberation begins to justify its title. He keeps it coming by slappin’ his readers upside the head and across the face with the conscious-raising messages of “Mississippi Courage” and “What Good Are Poems?”
Even when Da Black Book is mellow, it still manages to be potent. Witness “Equal Tears,” which urges people of color to trade weeping water “for bullets and cry Black rain all over the united plantations of Ameriklan.” Occasionally, Da Black Book offers sweet sonnets, written in tribute to poetry itself, evidence of just how passionately McInnis loves the word and the rhythm, but it’s mostly heavy artillery, as he takes his aim at the nation’s portrayal of history, its school system, and its incarceration of the people for whom he writes with dedication.
This is a far cry from the traditional “black book” that has come to represent the care-free thrills of Saturday nights in the black community. Rather, it is more like an instruction manual, a survival guide for any person of color who seeks to gain a true sense of freedom in this day and age of declining consciousness and increasing white fear. With this latest collection, C. Liegh McInnis easily joins the ranks of other powerful, young urban poets who are reinvigorating the black cultural and literary scene.
Eddie B. Allen, Jr.
Senior Writer/Michigan Chronicle