Pronounced gree-oh, I met the word in a review of poet Tim Seibles' collection Hurdy-Gurdy last week. I'm not sure I had ever read or heard it before. Defined as "any of a class of musician-entertainers of western Africa whose performances include tribal histories and genealogies; broadly : storyteller"
|Poet Tim Seibles|
Listening to Tim Seibles sing the poems in this sizzling collection is like listening to the voice of the griot praising, admonishing, cursing, blessing, and calling us together. . . . As a reader of poetry, I appreciated his exquisite crafting and cool, streetwise lyricism. And as a somewhat envious fellow poet, I wished that every rich, textured stanza were mine. (Patricia Smith)
I imagine you can understand why I needed to make the acquaintance of griot. It was one of those words that bumped into me like a pickpocket at the carnival in another age, helping me to my feet, brushing the sawdust from my sleeve, looking me in the eye. It is a word that makes me happy it exists, that there is a specific name for such a group, such a person. It overflows the banks of storyteller and meanders in all directions.
|Toumani Diabate, griot.|