Invisible Cities, Invisible Men

A Jazz Pianist and a Hip-Hop Poet Catch Language in the Balance

Vijay Iyer (left) and Mike Ladd, at the Asia Society
photo: Richard Mitchell
Vijay Iyer (left) and Mike Ladd, at the Asia Society

"Inanna After Baghdad" is not about a real person but it's one of the evening's most moving moments. The poem is named after the Mesopotamian goddess of life, and is narrated by someone seeing her appear, disappear, and reappear throughout history. As if to suggest that divinity has been defeated by human folly, the poem, which is the only one that is explicitly about the war, ends with Inanna trudging through deserted Baghdad streets, tears trailing behind her righteous steps. It's an image that screams pain, in this language or any.

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