for Scott Joplin

NPR says MTV

was a 1981 arrival
the August moon

waxing under Leo

Rap has acquired
ragtime immunity

Born in the same
barrack, bordello

no don’t think so

Rap rising: a king
in the east. Solarize

all courtiers, claques

Ragtime’s lord

of midwestern
halls was heard

in Saint Michael’s

“Let’s talk about
my 1973, not


About the Poem

I am listening to the 50 Years of hip-hop special on National Public Radio, and recently picked up my re-issued library card, a 50th-anniversary souvenir. Hip-hop is ingrained, like ragtime music, yet both were initially disreputable and racialized. Hip-hop still catches disapproval, while ragtime strikes us as quaint. Composer Scott Joplin, the king of ragtime, moved in 1907 from Missouri to New York City where he died in 1917, impoverished and nearly forgotten. In 1973, the official birth year of hip-hop, the public rediscovered Joplin’s music through an Oscar-winning comedy called The Sting, which propelled his 1902 piece The Entertainer into the top ten pop charts.

About the Author

Tracy Quan is a contributor to Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry and author of the bestselling novel Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl. Her poems have been published by Love’s Executive Order, Los Angeles Review of Books, Newest York, Poets Reading the News, Addanomadd, and Topical Poetry. She also serves as a juror for the New York City Book Awards.

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