Everett Hoagland
Puttin' on the Dog: At the 14th Annual Celebration of Black Writing, 1998

Is my shit correct?

Is my vine correct?

Are my kicks country or correct?

Is my “do” down?

Is my shit correct?


Is my rusty black diction correct?

Should my ever more erudite

utterances be in “The Vernacular?”

Should my presentation be

theatrical and spectacular?


Is my shit correct?


Should my manner be mannered

and laid back?

Is my poetry Posey?

Does it go to too far into haute couture


Does it come from hard facts

and Fanon,

or does it refer repeatedly

to The Canon trippin’

in Trickster Mode, tryin’

to Trope-A-Dope????


Is my shit correct?


But, hey, black poetry’s got more

than one good way.

The other day I asked a young Blood

poet if my stuff was correct, if it was



He said, Breaklight becomes dawn,

Ol’ Head.  The word “happenin”

ain’t happenin’, ain’t “where it’s at.”

Today it’s on. Word!

Our work is all that.

Found In Volume 28, No. 04
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Everett Hoagland
About the Author

Everett Hoagland is the winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Award as well as two Massachusetts Council Fellowships for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Iowa ReviewEssence and The Progressive. He is a professor of literature at the University of Massachusetts (North Dartmouth).