Book note: Ibé’s smooth “Self-Expression”


Most chapbooks simply amount to something an aspiring writer paid to have put together, because he or she couldn’t convince a publisher the work is worth marketing. Most.

An exception to this rule is Ibé’s fascinating collection of poetry, Bumper-Sticker Self-Expression. This chapbook is indisputable proof that even the best publishers (and the Twin Cities are known for having savvy houses that put out some of the sharpest poetry there is) can miss the boat. In fact, the only way I lucked upon a copy was to catch the author last summer at Sol Testimony’s brief but beloved Soul Sounds & Open Mic Jam Session. One night, Ibé was there, rockin’ the mic—in the company of such fellow aces as K Jay the Late Nite Poet, Black Pearl, and of course, Sol Testimony—and he slipped me a review copy.

Most impressive is that Ibé has both his message and his medium down cold, not having to beat you over the head with the former and substitute it for effective use of the latter. That’s also what most knocks me out about Bumper-Sticker Self-Expression (he told me where he got the title from, but it’s been a while and I forgot). Part of “Television Auction Blocks” reads, “They’re selling our daughters/ To pedophilic grandfathers sitting in the middle of family living rooms/ Hands in their pains/ Not listening, just dreaming/ Watching/ Babygirl!/ shake it fast!/ They’re selling our daughters.” His truth is as hard-hitting as his rhythmic flow is smooth. Also try, “Home is Where the Problem Is.” Lines like, “Women right in Afghanistan?/ Across the street a woman is held in bondage/ She lives in fear for her life/ For her children/ She remains married to monster.” Long story short: homeboy got skills.

Ibe is founder of the Web site (showcasing Africans in America), has received the coveted Jerome/SASE Verve Grant, been featured in the Twin Cities at Jazzmine’s, Intermedia Arts, and Barnes & Noble Bookstores, is a member of the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, and has performed at NYC’s famed Nuyorican Poets Café. He hosts the Souls on Display Open Mic at the Selam Coffee Shop, 3860 Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis, on Saturday nights at 8 p.m.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

Also in the Daily Planet:
Helen Kinuthia profiles Ibé (February 2008)
Ibé on the winter blues (January 2008)
Ibé on M.anifest (October 2007)
Ibé on the Souls on Display open mic night (September 2007)
Ibé on discovering the Twin Cities’ arts scene (July 2006)