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Fiction by Norwegian Women

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Snatched by Tamara Oakman

I was so proud to see and hear my fellow poet and friend, Tamara Oakman, featured in last week’s Sunday Inquirer.  Here is a link to Tamara reading Snatched.

2012 Philadelphia Poetry Festival

I’ll be representing Apiary Magazine at the Philadelphia Poetry Festival this coming Saturday, April 28, 2012.  This event is from noon-5 p.m. at the Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street.   
Here is a link to the lineup of participating poets and literary organizations as well the schedule:

·         Photo - Whispered With a Blackberry Kiss/ print available:

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Idea of Ancestry by Etheridge Knight 1931-1991

Elizabeth Catlett, Two Generations- 1987

The Idea of Ancestry
by Etheridge Knight

Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black
faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-
fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews.  They stare
across the space at me sprawling on my bunk.  I know
their dark eyes, they know mine.  I know their style,
they know mine.  I am all of them, they are all of me;
they are farmers, I am a thief, I am me, they are thee.

I have at one time or another been in love with my mother,
1 grandmother, 2 sisters, 2 aunts (1 went to the asylum),
and 5 cousins.  I am now in love with a 7-yr-old niece
(she sends me letters in large block print, and
her picture is the only one that smiles at me).

I have the same name as 1 grandfather, 3 cousins, 3 nephews,
and 1 uncle. The uncle disappeared when he was 15, just took
off and caught a freight (they say).  He's discussed each year
when the family has a reunion, he causes uneasiness in 
the clan, he is an empty space.  My father's mother, who is 93
and who keeps the Family Bible with everbody's birth dates
(and death dates) in it, always mentions him.  There is no
place in her Bible for "whereabouts unknown."


Each fall the graves of my grandfathers call me, the brown
hills and red gullies of mississippi send out their electric
messages, galvanizing my genes.  Last yr/like a salmon quitting
the cold ocean-leaping and bucking up his birth stream/I
hitchhiked my way from LA with 16 caps in my pocket and a 
monkey on my back.  And I almost kicked it with the kinfolks.
I walked barefooted in my grandmother's backyard/I smelled the 
land and the woods/I sipped cornwhiskey from fruit jars with the 
I flirted with the women/I had a ball till the caps ran out
and my habit came down.  That night I looked at my grandmother
and split/my guts were screaming for junk/but I was almost 
contented/I had almost caught up with me.
(The next day in Memphis I cracked a croaker's crib for a fix.)

This yr there is a gray stone wall damming my stream, and when
the falling leaves stir my genes, I pace my cell or flop on my bunk
and stare at 47 black faces across the space.  I am all of them,
they are all of me, I am me, they are thee, and I have no children
to float in the space between.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

To A Young Poet by Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish by Artist
 Hamoud Aissam


To a Young Poet

By Mahmoud Darwish 1942–2008

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.
Source: Poetry (March 2010).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sèche Tes Pleurs by Bernard Dadiè

T. S. Eliot

Ivorian writer Bernard Dadiè’s poem  Sèche Tes Pleurs  was translated into Mende and set to music by American composer John Williams for the Steven Spielberg movie The Amistad.  Below is the poem in French as Dadiè originally wrote it.  What follows is a video of the poem being  sung in Mende and the English translation.

Sèche Tes Pleurs
By Bernard Dadiè
Sèche tes pleurs Afrique!
Tes enfants te reviennent
dans l’orage et la tempête des voyages infructueux.
Sur le ris de l’onde et le babil de la brise,
Sur l’or des levants
Et la pourpre des couchants
des cimes des monts orgueilleux
Et des savanes abreuvées de lumière
Ils te reviennent
dans l’orage et la tempête des voyages infructueux.
Sèche tes pleurs, Afrique
Ayant bu
À toutes les fontaines
et de gloire,
Nos sens se sont ouverts
à la splendeur de ta beauté
à la senteur de tes forêts,
à l’enchantement de tes eaux
à la limpidité de ton ciel
à la caresse de ton soleil
Et au charme de ta verdure emperlée de rosée.
Sèche tes pleurs, Afrique!
Tes enfants te reviennent
Les mains pleines de jouets
Et le coeur plein d’amour.
Ils reviennent te vêtir
De leurs rêves et de leurs espoirs.

Légendes et poèmes. Paris: Seghers, 1973

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Because We Still Listen; Adrienne Rich -1930-2012

...T.S. Eliot
By Martina Hynan-
What Kind of Times Are These