William J. Harris
From a distance, I watch
a man digging a hole with a machine.
I go closer.
The hole is deep and narrow.
I ask the ditchdigger if I may climb down
and ask the bird a question.
He says, why sure.
It's nice and cool in the ditch.
The bird and I talk about singing.
Very little about technique.
Louis Copt filmed Harris’s poem “Practical Concerns”:
Selected Publications of Wm. J. Harris: The Poetry and Poetics of Amiri Baraka: The Jazz Aesthetic (1985), Hey Fella Would You Mind Holding This Piano a Moment (1974), and In My Own Dark Way (1977).
Kansas Univ. Associate Professor Harris has also published poetry in fifty anthologies, and some of the more recent work appears in Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (2004) and Every Goodbye Ain't Gone: An Anthology of Innovative Poetry by African Americans (2006). He is the editor or co-editor of The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader (1991, 2000), Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of African American Literary Tradition (1997) and a double issue of The African American Review on Amiri Baraka (Summer/Fall 2003).
For more on painter and film maker Louis Copt: