(to the memory of Dr. Ahmos Zu-Bolton)

To Ahmos . . .
To his wit and his wisdom
  his gentleness and strength
To his voice and inspiration
To his stories
To his teaching and telling of tall tales
To his humor and his heart
The Hoodoo of Black Southern Voices and Niggered Amens
(I ain’t no spring chicken, but everything is . . . Copasetic)

To his love of beauty and painting and drama and dance
    and song and poetry . . .
To his heritage and happiness
To the sunshine of his Southerness
To his songs of the South, his singing of the land, its richness and warmth . . .
To Mississippi mud and African blood in fruitless fields of dreams deferred
To his spirit and his soul
To his “O-o-o-o-old T-i-i-i-i-ime Re-li-juun . . .”

To his sense of community and commitment
To the fashion of his passion
    his pain and rebirth . . .

To his Creator’s Master Plan as reflected in the life of a natchel man
To his cultural retentions (his Africanisms)
To his politics and polemics
To the purest parts of his goodness and light
To his ancestors and their oneness with him
To his children . . .
To Amber and Simon and Allynthia and Candace

To his otherworldliness (the genius and genuiness of his ideas)
To his bearing and being, a true godsend
To his magic and memory
To a comrade and friend
Word without end
Ahmos forever and ever

Amen . . .

March 17, 2005


Arthur Pfister
from his book My Name is New Orleans
Margaret Media 2009
reprinted with permission of the poet


For an English Class

Lesson Plan for Arthur Pfister’s “Prayer”
by Laurie Williams

Read the poem aloud in class without students having a copy or being able to see the words.

Ask students what elements of the poem they can identify.

Who is the speaker?
What is the situation?
What is the tone of the poem?
What is the form of the poem?

After this discussion, give students a copy of the poem.

Have them number the lines of the poem on the left hand side.

What is the longest line? the shortest?

Then have them identify the lines that are end-stopped (ending with punctuation) and the ones which are enjambed (no ending punctuation at the line break).

What common elements does each line have?

How do the grammatical elements and the line breaks create a rhythm?

What is the theme and tone of the poem?

What kind of rhythm is it? And how does that rhythm work with the theme and tone of the poem?

Is there any alliteration? a rhyme scheme? figuration?

Why are some lines indented?

What purpose doe the ellipsis serve?

Have students choose someone who has passed away, personal or historical, and have them write an elegy.

For a History Class

Lesson Plan for Arthur Pfister’s “Prayer”|
by Laurie Williams

Write Ahmos Zu-Bolton (1935-2005) on the board. Tell students a little about his life. He grew up in DeRidder, Louisiana. He was one of several who integrated LSU in 1965. He also served in the Vietnam War. He published three books of poetry and founded Hoo-Doo , a magazine devoted to African-American activism and arts.

Pass out a copy of the poem to students.

Read it aloud in class and have students listen for facts of Ahmos Zu-Bolton’s life.

As they hear/ read a fact, have students underline it or box it.

Have students take a decade either individually or in groups.


Have students research their chosen decade write a poem modeled after Mr. Pfister’s poem that details facts, important events, mood, and tone of their chosen decade. Have students also include details about Louisiana at that time that may have affected Mr. Zu-Bolton’s life.

Have students be sure to include a bibliography. 

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