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Welcome to Words without Border’s tenth annual Queer issue.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Faces of the Americas- Calle 13

By Sadie Gustafson-Zook

There was an arts journal-International Quarterly-edited by Van K. Brock that so beautifully attempted to share the concerns and ideas of artists and writers from around the world.   Unfortunately this journal has met its demise, but I was lucky enough to have had work included in one of its issues: Faces of the Americas.    How absolutely gorgeous this issue was both in terms of its aesthetics and quality.  And it was so successful in communicating the huge diversity of people and cultures that comprise the Americas.

The Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 did a music collaboration in Peru and produced Latinoamerica and this visually celebratory video shows-off our diversity.  I love it!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Will be a Humming Bird- Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai  1940-2011

I remember when my daughter had to do a review of the book  After Gandhi; 100 Years of Nonviolent Resistance.  This book profiled nonviolent activists from around the world and my daughter was quite taken by Wangari Maathai and empowered by her story.  The two following links share some of Maathai’s spirit and bold ambition. Her example ushered an awakening for Kenyan women and young people who were emboldened to harness their resources and take ownership of their lives-however daunting this endeavor might seem.

          I am so excited by the young writers coming of out Kenya and their unabashed honesty about how things stand in this world.   Few embody this more than the writer  Binyavanga  Wainaina.  Like many of us, including my daughter, we owe a debt to  Maathai for making us fearless and courageous in the face of what is right. What a legacy to leave behind.  Here is Wainaina’s How Not  To Write About Africa  narrated by actor Djimon Hounsou.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Light to Illuminate the Path- Poet Mahmoud Darwish/ 1941-2008

I am an old poet and I am still stirred and inspired by the profound and eloquent advice Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish generously offers in his poem, To A Young Poet. My teenage-poet daughter, who I have been meticulously grooming to take careful note of the ways of world and how people negotiate their desires within the confines of inequity and injustice, has left my assiduous tutelage to begin her own journey. I gave her a copy of Mr. Darwish’s poem to light her way.

“Breaking bread with the dead,” is how W. H. Auden so accurately described part of the process of creating poetry. Your ideas, your style, the cadences carried in your poems are invariably informed by those not so gentle people-the poets you have read and heard and who have settled in your very being. On September 23, 2011, when Palestine requested full United Nations membership, I awoke to the silent, waspy voice of Darwish saying, “get up girl and meet the world with a new poem.”

To A Young Poet

Translated By Fady Joudah

Don’t believe our outlines, forget them
and begin from your own words.
As if you are the first to write poetry
or the last poet.

If you read our work, let it not be an extension of our airs,
but to correct our errs
in the book of agony.

Don’t ask anyone: Who am I?
You know who your mother is.
As for your father, be your own.

Truth is white, write over it
with a crow’s ink.
Truth is black, write over it
with a mirage’s light.

If you want to duel with a falcon
soar with the falcon.

If you fall in love with a woman,
be the one, not she,
who desires his end.

Life is less alive than we think but we don’t think
of the matter too much lest we hurt emotions’ health.

If you ponder a rose for too long
you won’t budge in a storm.

You are like me, but my abyss is clear.
And you have roads whose secrets never end.
They descend and ascend, descend and ascend.

You might call the end of youth
the maturity of talent
or wisdom. No doubt, it is wisdom,
the wisdom of a cool non-lyric.

One thousand birds in the hand
don’t equal one bird that wears a tree.

A poem in a difficult time
is beautiful flowers in a cemetery.

Example is not easy to attain
so be yourself and other than yourself
behind the borders of echo.

Ardor has an expiration date with extended range.
So fill up with fervor for your heart’s sake,
follow it before you reach your path.

Don’t tell the beloved, you are I
and I am you, say
the opposite of that: we are two guests
of an excess, fugitive cloud.

Deviate, with all your might, deviate from the rule.

Don’t place two stars in one utterance
and place the marginal next to the essential
to complete the rising rapture.

Don’t believe the accuracy of our instructions.
Believe only the caravan’s trace.

A moral is as a bullet in its poet’s heart
a deadly wisdom.
Be strong as a bull when you’re angry
weak as an almond blossom
when you love, and nothing, nothing
when you serenade yourself in a closed room.

The road is long like an ancient poet’s night:
plains and hills, rivers and valleys.
Walk according to your dream’s measure: either a lily
follows you or the gallows.

Your tasks are not what worry me about you.
I worry about you from those who dance
over their children’s graves,
and from the hidden cameras
in the singers’ navels.

You won’t disappoint me,
if you distance yourself from others, and from me.
What doesn’t resemble me is more beautiful.

From now on, your only guardian is a neglected future.

Don’t think, when you melt in sorrow
like candle tears, of who will see you
or follow your intuition’s light.
Think of yourself: is this all of myself?

The poem is always incomplete, the butterflies make it whole.

No advice in love. It’s experience.
No advice in poetry. It’s talent.

And last but not least, Salaam.
     Octavia McBride-Ahebee, a writer, whose most recent poetry collection, Where My Birthmark Dances, is published by Finishing Line Press,
and is available on

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thinking of Palestine Today !

Painting by R. Fouda
Suheir Hammand

What I Will
by Suheir Hammad
I will not
dance to your war
drum. I will
not lend my soul nor
my bones to your war
drum. I will
not dance to your
beating. I know that beat.
It is lifeless. I know
intimately that skin
you are hitting. It
was alive once
hunted stolen
stretched. I will
not dance to your drummed
up war. I will not pop
spin beak for you. I
will not hate for you or
even hate you. I will
not kill for you. Especially
I will not die
for you. I will not mourn
the dead with murder nor
suicide. I will not side
with you nor dance to bombs
because everyone else is
dancing. Everyone can be
wrong. Life is a right not
collateral or casual. I
will not forget where
I come from. I
will craft my own drum. Gather my beloved
near and our chanting
will be dancing. Our
humming will be drumming. I
will not be played. I
will not lend my name
nor my rhythm to your
beat. I will dance
and resist and dance and
persist and dance. This heartbeat is louder than
death. Your war drum ain’t
louder than this breath.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where My Birthmark Dances is Now Available on Amazon !!!

There are no excuses. You can now purchase my newest collection of poetry, Where My Birthmark Dances, on Amazon. 
I have been earnestly preparing for my blog tour and, in this process, I have discovered many phenomenal folks, who are busy making their art and other projects happen.  What’s been most exciting and satisfying are the connections  I am making around the world. Through my guest posts, you’ll meet them as well.  Until then, go buy my book.  Love ya.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Celebrating a Birthday with Concha Buika

Today’s my father’s 80th birthday.  I am sharing with you my grand gift to him- Buika.  Her parents are from Equatorial Guinea and she grew up in Spain and you can hear the whole world calling in her voice. What a sound.  Enjoy.
                                                                    Buika with Javier Limon