Secret letter to Lawrence Parker  (KRS One)

Dear KRS One,

I have to admit, as a white kid growing up in the projects of Helmond,who’d ever think I’d have a black rapper from the U.S. as a role model. But somehow, your lyrics and message spoke to me in a way that no one else’s did. You taught me about the power of knowledge and the importance of understanding the world around us and the power of the human brain.

In the Toltec system they call that a Man of Knowledge. I came to see you in Eindhoven the other day, and your shamanic power is evident: you can light up an entire room with your presence. I was actually perhaps the only one in the crowd that sang along with all your lyrics, no one else seemed to know them by heart, which is perhaps an upsetting feature.

As I’ve gotten older and delved deeper into the world of poetry, I’ve come to realize that the mechanism of exclusion you’ve spoken about in the rap industry is all too present in the world of poetry as well, but no one talks about it. In fact, I would argue that it’s even worse in some ways, as there are instances where poets have been silenced or even murdered for being too progressive or for speaking truth to power.

It’s a sad reality, but one that I believe we must continue to fight against. As you’ve taught me, it’s up to each and every one of us to be the change we wish to see in the world, and to use our voices to speak out against injustice wherever we see it.

So thank you, KRS One, for being a beacon of light in a world that can often seem dark and overwhelming. You’ve inspired me to be true to myself and to stand up for what I believe in, no matter what obstacles may come my way.

I have tried my best as a poet to give powerful poets that were wronged by a dark system a
voice in my new book Poetry to Read in the Dark. I see that as one of the primal functions a shaman
has: speaking with the voice of the ancestors, you would call it, I think. These poets I write about in my book are not just a couple of unlucky, random poets. These are the best poets of their time.

That’s why I got the idea to write you this letter: I regard you as one of the best poets I know, who taught me so many things about philosophy and energy and dealing with a predator system. So I want to offer you my latest book, Poetry to Read in the Dark, as a gift. Here it is as a PDF:

Poetry to Read in the Dark (2022) (2877 downloads )


Thank you for taking the time to read all this. If you ever want to reply, you are intelligent enough to find my mail. At any rate, thank you for your teachings and your music, and for your uplifting presence in my life.

Yours sincerely,

Martijn Benders

Martijn Benders has published twenty-six books, eighteen of which are in Dutch. He has been named one of the greatest talents of his time by critics like Komrij and Gerbrandy. He has also written three philosophical works, one of which is in English about the Amanita Muscaria, the Fly Agaric. Publishing on the international stage of The Philosophical Salon, he has also gained international recognition as one of the most remarkable thinkers from the Netherlands.