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Black Bard

A Poet Laureate for our life and times

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If I were president, Cee-Lo Green would be the national Poet Laureate.

With apologies to Donald Hall, the current Poet Laureate of the United States (whose poetry, incidentally, is not too shabby), I'm thinking it might be time to have a Poet Laureate who is kinda, sorta hip hop ... but smoothed out on the R&B tip ... but with a pop feel-appeal. Yeah, that's it.

Don't you think it'd be cool if the Poet Laureate were someone with a broader audience -- not so big that your parents had ever heard of him, but with enough props that he could give voice to the mood of everyday people? I think so, too.

Why Cee-Lo? Because he knows how to strike a chord -- a nerve. Just last week, I read a great article by critic Jody Rosen about the ubiquity of the song "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley (Cee-Lo is half of the partnership alongside DJ Danger Mouse). Later that same day, I was in a bar with my boy Mole (an anti-bandwagon, throwback white guy if there ever was one), and when "Crazy" started playing, he started feeling the flow right away. Go figure.

I want to see Poet Laureate Cee-Lo at major events like the State of the Union, reciting his verse, then being interviewed afterward to get his thoughts on global warming or Iraq. He could be like a New South Pablo Neruda -- one day riding on 22s through the ATL, the next day brunching with Queen Noor on the Left Bank.

Not convinced? Then let me refer you to Goodie Mob's first album, Soul Food (1996), from whence all of Cee-Lo's verses are like Chaucerian rivulets flowing through the ghettoes of your mind. Mr. Hall has himself mused, "Is verse dead?" Nay, I say. It has traveled the road from Yeats, to Dickinson, to Angelou. Let it now follow the path from Lennon, to King, to Cee-Lo Green.

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