Archive | Saturday , April 5 , 2008

Serena Outlasts Jankovic To Win Miami Masters For The Fifth Time

It took tennis goddess Serena Williams almost two and a half hours but she finally defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-1 5-7 6-3 in the women’s final of the Miami Masters. Serena was cruising 6-1 5-4 and she choked allowing Jankovic to win the next four games and the second set. In the final set after a tense first game Serena built a 5-0 lead only to choke seven match points. Serena held her nerve to close out the tough match. Serena matches Steffi Graf record of winning the Miami Masters five times. Serena won her 30th WTA tour title today.

I am so happy for Serena she defeated the world number one Justine Henin, the number three Svetlana Kuznetsova, and the number four Jelena Jankovic. It is obvious Kuznetsova, Jankovic, and Ana Ivanovic are solid players but they are not better then Serena Williams. Serena Williams should be number one she is the best woman tennis player of her generation when she is 110% focused and fit. Serena humiliated world number one Justine Henin in the quarterfinals destroying her 6-2 6-0.

The WTA rankings are bizarre despite Serena defending the Miami title her ranking is going to drop from eight to about nine or ten in the world. The WTA rankings reward quantity and not quality. Serena needs to play more WTA events to have a higher ranking. I am hoping Serena decides to play some tier I WTA clay court events this spring.

It is really frustrating to see Serena have to play Justine Henin so many times in the quarterfinals. I really hope this year Serena decides to play more tennis it is the only way her ranking is going to rise. The Miami Masters is only the third WTA tour event Serena played this year.

Book Review: Langston Hughes The Collected Poems

On Thursday afternoon, I decided I just had to buy a collection of Langston Hughes wonderful poetry. I already read Langston’s first memoir “The Big Sea”. I realized I don’t own any of Hughes poetry. I remember one bookstore in downtown Toronto had a copy of the book. I searched the poetry section and I am so glad I found the book. I am so excited! Anyone that reads my blog knows I have a real admiration and respect for Langston Hughes incredible literary skills and talents.

The collected poems of Langston Hughes is a very special book because it contains “all” of Langston Hughes poetry. The poems are placed in chronological order from the dates they were first published.

One complaint I have is where are the table of contents? It is kind of frustrating to have to travel to the index of the book to find specific information about poems. Couldn’t the editors of this magnanimous book have used a bit of common sense and place the table of contents at the beginning of the book?

I know my limitations I will never ever be as talented as Langston Hughes. However, I also realize I can learn a lot from Langston by simply reading his poetry. Langston’s poetry makes me cry, laugh, smile, and think. The words are so beautiful, so thought provoking, controversial, explosive, passionate, powerful, and enjoyable to read.

In the past I visited the local public library and I sat for hours reading and immersing myself into Langston’s world. The collected poems of Langston Hughes consists of all Hughes poetry it is a large volume 868 poems. It is also interesting that almost 300 of the poems are published for the very first time in this new volume . Any poet, writer, lover of poetry or simply a person that enjoys the written word should read this book. It is a treasure and a pleasure to be able to hold this book in my hands and learn from the great Langston Hughes.

Langston Hughes was sympathetic to communism and some of the poems reflect his views on America’s social, racial, and cultural apartheid. I was stunned at the awesome power of some of Hughes poetry about lynching. During Hughes lifetime thousands of innocent black men were lynched in the United States. Lynching was a form of terrorism against black males. Black men were accused in the south at looking at white women or attempting to make sexual advances at white women.

The truth is the vast majority of these allegations were lies and an example of racism and the fear of the white heterosexual men of black male sexuality. However, I must point out the USA government didn’t protect black women that were raped by white men. Lynching refers to white male dominance over all people it is the Mythical Norm entrenching his power over all the races. For instance the poem “Bitter River” is about two teenagers Charles Long and Ernest Green they were lynched in Mississippi in the year 1942. The poem ”Bitter River” captures Langston’s anger this poem is incredible .

Here is an example of Hughes ability to compose a picture for the reader about his disgust for racism in the poem “Bitter River”. “There is a bitter river flowing through the south…too long has its evil poison poisoned my mouth.” Isn’t this line incredible? Hughes has an ability to create imagery for the reader to relate to the written word but also to capture the emotion with urgency. Langston ‘s words are powerful here the symbolism of “poisoned” refers to Langston’s anger about American racism and social apartheid.Langston Hughes poetry weren’t just poems the words are social messages and commentary about his views about America.

The poem “Desire” is Langston’s attempt to explore black homoeroticism. However, I feel there is still some restraint in the poem “Desire”. Although I do feel the poem “Desire” is a wonderful poem it explores the longing, the feverish electricity, the passion of love between black men.

The poem is clearly about two men most likely gay black men that “desire” each other but must meet in the shadows and darkness to explore their love. “Desire to us was like a double death…between us quickly in a naked room.” The words “to us” I believe is an attempt by Langston to conceal his homosexuality.

The poem “Desire” also means a yearning and the longing for gay black love and passion. The words “double death” I believe infers to the duality black gay men experience in society being both black and gay. During Langston Hughes lifetime he had to conceal his homosexuality in order to be respected by black heterosexuals. I am not sure Langston had a choice to come out as a homosexual. I think for Langston being black and gay could very well mean a “double death”. The black homosexual man encounters the racism from the mainstream and queer cultures and the homophobia from black heterosexual heterosexist majority. I close my eyes reading the poem “Desire” and every single time I imagine two black gay men frightened, terrified, locked in a room some where making love. The poem conjures up feelings of fear that someone will smash the door open and discover the passion that exists between black gay men.

Another poem I love is “cafe 3am” this poem deals specifically with police raids of gay bars. The word “Cafe 3am” refers to the fact gays and lesbians had to meet in gay bars late at night to avoid persecution from the heterosexist majority. “Cafe 3am” is a very honest poem by Langston Hughes because it explores the intersection of homophobia and police brutality. During Hughes lifetime homosexuality was considered a mental illness and gays and lesbians could be arrested just for being gay. “Detectives from the vice squad…spotting fairies degenerates some folks say.” “But God, Nature or somebody made them that way.” Hughes mandate in this poem is clear he is boldly stating that gay people we are being discriminated against just because we are gay by a heterosexist matrix. Hughes identifies the police with the line “detectives from the vice squad”. Hughes view in this poem is being gay is just a sexual orientation people should have the right to love anyone he or she wants. Hughes says “but God, Nature, or somebody made them that way.”

It is shocking to me that some people refuse to acknowledge it is clear and obvious Langston Hughes was a closeted black gay man. On Aulelia’s blog (www.charcoalink.wordpress.com) she highlights a controversy on the black celebrity blog “Concrete Loop” about the Langston Hughes controversy. Hughes was cognizant of the fact he could not come out during his lifetime because he would lose the support from the black heterosexual community. Langston Hughes is considered one of the top black poets to have ever lived and perhaps the top poet of the twentieth century. Hughes also was radical during his lifetime because he was a strong believer in communism. The question remains why was Langston Hughes so interested in communism? It is clear to me Hughes believed in the theory of communism because he thought all people would be treated “equally” under communism then under a capitalist free market society. Hughes views on communism appear to be a bit too romantic there is a downside to communism the lack of autonomy, the inability to live your life on your own terms, not being able to acquire personal wealth.

The collected poems of Langston Hughes allows the reader a glance inside the mind of the man at his passionate views on politics, racism, love, homophobia, class prejudice, and also unhappiness and loneliness.

I notice most of the poems focus on race and politics. I am cognizant of the fact race and politics of course are important themes during Langston Hughes lifetime. However, I also believe from a literary perspective this is an example of dissemblance. I think it is a writing strategy by Langston Hughes to be palatable to the black mainstream. But what about the private sphere? What about Langston’s real personality? The reader will not obtain a real clear picture of the real Langston Hughes personal life by reading this book. I feel like there is a wall an invisible barrier Langston created he didn’t want anyone to know about his love life.

Since I am inquisitive I am curious yearning for more information about Langston’s romantic life. Where are the poems that breaks the canyon of silence about love whether it was unrequited love or passionate love? I still wonder who was Langston Hughes lover or lovers? I guess I will find this out when I read Langston’s second memoir “I Wonder As I Wander”. I will read “I Wonder As I Wander” since it is a primary source document from Langston’s perspective. However, I will also contextualize this by reading some biographies of Hughes life to provide some resonance.

Nikolay Davydenko Sinks Andy Roddick In Straight Sets In Miami!

Well I am very surprised by this result Russian tennis star Nikolay Davydenko finally defeated Andy Roddick for the first time in the Miami Masters semifinals 7-6 6-2. Davydenko has been a fixture in the ATP Tour top five for the past three years. Davydenko is a very consistent player he has reached the French & US Open semifinals twice in his career and the Australian Open quarterfinals three times. Davydenko also has won a Masters series title in Paris France in 2006.

Davydenko doesn’t receive a lot of attention because he isn’t flashy or outspoken he lets his racket do the talking. Roddick had a 5-0 edge in the head to head but Davydenko finally solved Roddick’s big serve. I believe Davydenko has the potential to win a grand slam he is an excellent hard court and clay court player. Davydenko also reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year and grass is his worst surface.  The problem with Davydenko is his mind he tends to capitulate under the pressure. Davydenko will face world number two Rafael Nadal in the finals of Miami. Roger Federer does have something to worry about though Nadal is acquiring a lot of ranking points because he lost in the second round of Miami last year.

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