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Comics and Graphic Narratives; A Global Cultural Commons

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Let It Snow



My brother Ted, as a young boy, had this elaborate ritual of buying 45 rpm records at the end of most weeks.  After collecting money from the patrons on his paper route, he would put so much aside for his PSFS savings account, some aside to buy candy from Doc’s and hoagies from George’s and some to get him to the record store on 69th  Street to buy the 45 that everyone wanted. He would dress- gabardine pants and elaborately patterned polyester shirts- for these weekly sojourns to the music mecca up the hill.

Though my dad and his brothers were avid jazz lovers, listeners and collectors, it was Ted who brought into our home what was new and coveted.  He-this young boy- also opened our home and hearts to what was quirky and exquisite; he introduced us to Phoebe Snow and to his new practice of buying albums. I can vividly recall most of her album covers and all of the lives I had lived when I listened to her music.  She and Janis Ian and Carole King were the first poets I loved.

I saw Phoebe perform years ago, in Philadelphia, at the famed
Chestnut Street
Cabaret and her magic is still with me.

Here’s the link to Inspired Insanity; one of my favorites.
 http://www.myspace.com/phoebesnowmusic/music/songs/inspired-insanity-28599361

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tim Hetherington-Bearing Witness


Broad Street & the Old Executive Grounds ©Tim Hetherington



Wedding Parties at Centennial Pavilion ©Tim Hetherington


When I select a piece of literature- a poem, a short story, a lesson about commas- for my young students and my own children, I do so with the explicit goal of moving them  forward on their journey of learning about themselves and their world.   I am an ideologue with an agenda; with a passion for people to discover not my truth, but a truth about the underbelly of this fat, beautiful world.  And I am most humbled and stripped of all swagger by those who seek not only to discover something new and uncomfortable, but to also bear witness to humanity when it has fallen and crawled into darkness. I am equally awed by those who purposefully seeks to affirm any dignity left standing.  This is what photojournalist Tim Hetherington did and this is why his death today in Libya was met with much sadness.  

Listen to him and learn how he navigated our perilous place as one who bears witness for us.

Source: New York Times/ June 2, 2009

In Defense of Flowers
By Octavia McBride-Ahebee

When I smell the wind of an AK-47
before it sounds its name
before it travels in rounds of seconds
splintering the thoughts of sterile termites
pushing through the destiny of evil
in search of me

I run to hide in the voluminous fury of a jasmine shrub in bloom
its pale butter blossoms shield me
from the bloodletting
bathing its roots

I snort, in silent gulps, which claim my dignity
the calming splendor of the jasmine’s bouquet

I am rescued
for an instance
from a hunter high
on the dizziness of his own deprivation

I am rescued
from my brother
by a performed bush

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yo-Yo Ma and Charles Riley-Now This is Poetry in Motion!




by Thoai Lu 

Celebrate Love
April 14, 2011

 An audience of over 100 grade school students at Los Angeles’s Inner City Arts got a big treat recently when world famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma teamed up with locally-based dancer Charles Riley for a rendition of “The Dying Swan.” In the performance, Ma uses his high-brow style of performance to provide the soundtrack for Riley’s style of interpretive urban dance. The two offered up their talents in order to highlight the need for more government-sponsored arts programs. You can see the whole thing in the video that’s above.
Ma, a Presidential Media of Freedom Award Recipient, is already world renowned. But LA-based Charles Riley, known by his stage name Lil’ Buck, is just starting to make a name on the national scene. The twenty-two-year old is the 2011 Vail International Dance Festival’s Artist-in-Residence and does a style of dance known as “jookin’”, which originated in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. He also taught the kids how a Michael Jackson-style moonwalk as Ma played Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

“All the things that they talk about these days, with where our country is going — we need an innovative and knowledge work force,” Ma told Southern California Public Radio. “The best way to build innovation and creative imagination - and the most efficient way to do it - is actually by movement, visualizing, sound.”

“We can build community like nothing else,” Ma continued. “All it takes is imagination, attention and empathy — that we care.”

We’re ending the day as often as possible by celebrating love. We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to submissions@colorlines.com, and be sure to put Celebrate Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos, graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the comments below and we’ll find you. Be sure to let us know you’ve got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Art Woodstock

This is the latest Visual Art video from Makulu Visual Arts. Shot and edited by Rowan Pybus it is an attempt to capture a slice of life in a corner of Woodstock in Cape Town while it was transformed through a massive mural campaign by some of the best street artists in South Africa.
 Here is a poem by Sri Chinmoy on the redemptive qualities of Art.

Art
By Sri Chinmoy

My Art is no art 
Without my mind's simplicity.

My Art does not want      
To subscribe to the view
That unhappiness
Commands the world.

When I paint or draw,
I keep my mind's thought-garden
Completely free of self-doubt-weeds.
  
My Art is the hide-and-seek      
Between my soul's illumining smiles    
And my heart's streaming tears.

The Artist in me has three  
Faithful, sleepless    
And self-giving friends:
A newness-eye, a oneness-heart
And a fulness-life.
  
The heart of my Art      
And the heart of a child
Are extremely fond of each other.
They love each other deeply;
They need each other constantly;
They are interdependent, sleeplessly.
 
My mind says that anything I do
Is too insignificant
Because I am wanting
In qualification.    
Needless to say,
This includes my Artwork.    
   
My heart says that anything I do
Is too significant
Because the God-Touch    
Is always there.
Needless to say,
This includes my Artwork.

The moment I start painting,  
I clearly see my soul-meditation
Is blessingfully clasping
My heart-aspiration-flames.
 
First things first: 
The Artist in me,
Before embarking on his Artwork,
Invariably catches
His heart's aspiration-express.
 
True, in my Art I want to see
The face of earth's beauty.
But I want to see
The heart of Heaven's Divinity    
More, infinitely more.



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Siba N. Grovogui- How We Step into the World

Siba N. Grovogui of John Hopkins University

When my daughter was in middle school, she had a history project in which she had to create a poster presenting some aspect of the Renaissance Period. She produced a compelling piece entitled The Renaissance Through African Eyes. She depicted, through Renaissance paintings, the presence of Africans in Europe, but more importantly she illustrated the commercial link between Europe and Africa and how this trade contributed to funding Europe’s enlightenment. The teacher was a bit confused as were her peers, especially students of color. What did Africans have to do with the Renaissance? Did African people even exist then? Didn’t they just miraculously appear on the plantations of the New World just in time to harvest the crops?


This proclivity of marginalizing people and their place in world history is a hallmark of how history is delivered in American academic institutions. This is why I find Professor Siba N. Grovogui, of John Hopkins University, so refreshing and why his ideas need to be disseminated and considered. Like my daughter, he is West African-she from Cote d’Ivoire and he from Guinea, and I am so excited by both of their thoughtfulness.


Here is a video of Grovogui sharing some of his ideas. Have a listen and stretch your mind.



Saturday, April 2, 2011

Where My Birthmark Dances by Octavia McBride-Ahebee

My new poetry collection, Where My Birthmark Dances, is now available for purchase. This book is published by Finishing Line Press. The shipping date is July 23, 2011. Please support me now and buy my book. I will keep you informed of the book release party as well as my upcoming readings.  You may click here to purchase the book: http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm

Lillian Dunn,editor of Apiary Journal, in describing this collection states:


             The Ancient Romans used to call a person's creative spirit her "genius," and recognized the labor of setting it free as one of love and sacrifice. Octavia McBride-Ahebee's latest collection is just such a labor. Her poems depict human longing, love and dignity in the context of global inequality with fierce, uncompromising grace. As her characters speak, she creates indelible sensory images of loveliness and affection, profound misery and anger, letting each co-exist on the page. The resulting complexity of tone makes space for nuanced and compelling human voices that might otherwise be categorized as  "victims" or "villains" of oppression. It takes the full use of genius to notice and capture these contradictions, and a deep social conscience to care so passionately about writing them down. This collection is one of McBride-Ahebee's "bighearted magnolia trees," its trunk scarred by the fire of sacrifice, its blossoms and branches so beautiful you don't want to leave their shade.