Click Iogo to learn more.

Click Iogo to learn more.
Fiction by Norwegian Women

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sacheen Littlefeather and the Marlon Brando Oscar Refusal

Sacheen Littlefeather by Hannah Gray
A Recent TV Slur Revives Debate About Sacheen Littlefeather and Her Role in Marlon Brando’s Oscar Refusal
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Here's the link to the article:

Here is a link to the video of Littlefeather declining the Academy Award on behalf of Marlon Brando:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday Art Talk- Margaret Bowland

Flower Girl by Margaret Bowland ; below -Amazing Grace

Artist Margaret Bowland
Artist Statement
   "...We inhabit a purely relative world, in terms of belief structures, yet each of us knows and in a sense, believes in, the need to be beautiful. My work is about beauty—what it means to be beautiful and what significance the idea has in the twenty-first century in the world of art. We all know that being beautiful is as important as being rich, that being beautiful is itself a form of wealth. One must be tall, thin and white. One’s features must be diminutive and regular. We recognize deviations from this norm, but recognize that these deviations, even if appealing, are far from ideal. The need to be beautiful fuels one of the largest and most ruthless industries in our world.
Beauty makes sense to me, has weight for me, only when it falls from grace. It starts to matter when it carries damage. Sorrow allows it to cast a shadow. It becomes three-dimensional. It enters our world..." 
Give a listen to Ms. Bowland as she shares more on what drives her as an artist.   

Here is a link to James Baldwin's essay "On Being White and Other Lies"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Poet Jack Gilbert; When Forgotten Things Are Collected

Painting by Jack Richard Smith

I am a huge fan of Gary Glazner and the work that he does with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.  I had the good fortune to assist him, a few years ago, with a workshop for seniors at my neighborhood adult daycare center, where many of the clients have Alzheimer’s.  If you want empirical evidence of poetry’s ability to exert itself in a brain left for dead see Gary in action. See him as he ever so gently and vivaciously pulls to the surface of those with Alzheimer’s forgotten poems that were once committed to memory and to the heart and had gotten clobbered by the weight of this disease.   So often Gary’s workshop participants become so animated by verses they recall and recite and there is a kind of passion that covers their blank faces even if just for brief moments. 

As poet and daughter, I cared for my own mother, an Alzheimer’s patient, who died this past March. To the very end my mother still clung to poetry.  With a dead tongue, she spoke of poetry’s true power; to recognize, to celebrate and to redeem.

The following is a poignant article by John Penner, of the Los Angeles Times, about poet Jack Gilbert, the recent publication of his collected poems and what Alzheimer’s had claimed.  Mr. Gilbert died this past Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Virginia B. Ball Writing Competition ;A $30,000 Creative Writing Scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy

Do you know a high school writer looking for an opportunity of a lifetime to be in the company of his or her peers and to learn the craft from giants? Example: My daughter, though primarily a poet, attempted this past semester to write a one-act play.  Guess who Interlochen Arts Academy invited to campus to give such students as Sojourner a few tips?   … Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner.  This is typical of the caliber of artists who guide these students.  

Listen( click video above) to learn about the Virginia B. Ball Writing Competition which is a  $30,000 Creative Writing Scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school (2013-14 school year) and publication in the 2014 Interlochen Review.

Interlochen is an amazing boarding school for all of the arts.  Have a look:

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Song for My Son

Artwork by Karen Morrison- Discover more of her amazing work at

One of the supreme benefits of having a friend as a poet combined with a spectacular history of shared adventures is that these two circumstances may meet to bloom into a special poem. And it did in my case.

Poet Furaha Youngblood, author of Cat-Eyed Woman  From Louisiana-now ain’t that a title- a poetry collection  chronicling her experiences in West Africa, North Africa,  Central American and here at home, wrote a poem to mark my son’s thirteenth birthday.  How grand is this?  Furaha and I lived in Cote d’Ivoire for a number of years and shared many specials moments. Since both of our departures from CI and her continued globetrotting, we continue our annual reunions each summer.

How touched I was when she presented the gift of this poem for my son. Happy Birthday Auguste!

A Poem for Auguste
By Furaha Youngblood

Hanging upside down in the giant tree that overshadows the house where you live, your knees bend to the limb’s curve, holding you perfectly balanced between two worlds.

Boy qualities, stolen long ago from ‘at-risk’ youngsters, shine from your bright eyes, ready to follow a bird’s flight, or the dancing notes on the pages of your violin lessons.

As I watch you negotiate the magic contours of your grandparents’ big backyard, testing the boundaries between outer dangers, and your mother’s love and sister’s trust, I silently applaud your bravery and innocence.

You are prepared to cross the threshold taking you from childhood; all who love you, stand to greet you and witness the unfolding of your name—majestic, inspiring awe, reverence—our shining prince.

Here is a link to a radio interview with Furaha.  It starts about 83:10

 Artwork by Karen Morrison Discover more of her amazing work at

The French Connection; American and African Experiences in France

Illustration by Brian Stauffer
My 16-year-old daughter is African-American; a term that is increasing fluid and in recent years not the exclusive descriptor of descendants of the enslaved population of the United States.  I am African-American, the daughter of southern migrants, and my husband was from Cote d’Ivoire, in West Africa.  My children were born and raised in Cote d’Ivoire during their early years before our relocation back to my home in the States.  So, my daughter, Sojourner, is indeed African-American in all of its nuanced and changing and intriguing manifestations. 

This past summer, Sojourner visited and studied in Paris, France; a trip she planned for and anticipated with all of the idealism of a wide-eyed, gushy teen girl. Though she had an amazing journey studying the Parisian Architecture and the expatriates who called the City of Lights home, she was not prepared for the many occasions she encountered the overt hostility of white French people who always initially perceived her as being West African, which she is.  But when she was overheard speaking  whether in English or in French with her clearly American accent, this hostility immediately dissipated and she was always asked if she was American in a pleasant manner as much as the French can muster.  Her standard reply in perfect French was, “I am who you think I am and much more.”  

Over the past 30 years, significant numbers of people from France’s former colonies in Africa have settled in France and the French find this very unsettling as my little girl discovered.  Over the past few months, my daughter and I have discussed and read a few books on the subject on Americans and Africans and their experiences in France.  On December 1, 2012, a group in Philadelphia is getting together to discuss one of the books we read; Three Strong Women by Marie N’Diaye.  Do join us.  

Here is a  link to amazing books on this subject.  Read of the experiences of Angela Davis, Susan Sontag and Jackie Kennedy as young women in Paris as well as that of  Ivoirian writer Bernard Dadié and much more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Election Day, November, 1884 

If I should need to name, O Western World, your 
   powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara--nor you, ye limitless 
   prairies--nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all its 
   spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, 
   appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty 
   lakes--nor Mississippi's stream:
--This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, 
   I'd name--the still small voice vibrating--America's 
   choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen--the act itself the 
   main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd--sea-board 
   and inland--Texas to Maine--the Prairie States--
   Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West--the 
   paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling--(a swordless 
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern 
   Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity--welcoming the darker 
   odds, the dross:
--Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to 
   purify--while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.