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RIP Gil Scott-Heron

The BBC notes that US musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron dies at 62. Juan Cole embedded his most well-known work: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

While he is addressing black issues in the piece, substitute liberals for blacks and you have the same problem of media invisibility. Just as the media selects “approved” black leaders, it selects a small group of “approved” political voices. Consider that a dozen Tea Party protestors show up anywhere and everyone is told about it, but tens of thousands of people can gather for a liberal cause and there is silence.

He was an oral poet. He continued what the “Beat poets” were doing, but the tradition goes back to the Greeks, and is found throughout the world. He wasn’t just a lyricist, although some of his poetry is musical, he also wrote poetry to be read and pondered in silence.

He has been called the “godfather of rap”, but rap is just a continuation of the same oral tradition, story telling in a rhyming pattern with accompaniment. The purpose is to make a point about the world the poet lives in.