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Fiction by Norwegian Women

Friday, August 29, 2014

Preparations for the Voyage to Lampedusa by Octavia McBride-Ahebee


Photograph by Victor Englebert
I tagged him
like a suitcase
in our wedding henna
and the indigo of our gods
so sand and salt water could not erase                     him
using a hand-rolled cone
of discarded plastic
I labeled him in Arabic on his forehead
with the translated love poems of Rumi
riding across the arch of each eyebrow
I braided his eyelashes into a wind rose
to inform a faltering will 
where grace blew the hardest
I pierced his ears with Voltaire’s call 
to give ourselves the gift
             of living well
on the palms of his hands, I rendered
in sloppy English,
the poetry of lorde and knight

between the nervous Dogon masks that dressed his breasts
and the hairy lotus flowers that framed a navel I loved to get lost in

I sung in the double swirl of earth’s only colors
a plea in Italian to be kind

A boat carrying migrants headed to Italy/Photograph by Massimo Sestini

 

amid the spiraling canals of Sundiata’s praise song
that ran up and down his legs, front and back
I marked the empty spaces with the tattooed kisses
Of his children and a p.o. box leading back to Kolokani
on his stained fingernails I wrote our love dreams
-you know –a quartered-filled belly of lamb and hibiscus,
a muted chest,
feces that is thick and whole and free of the world’s disdain,
a means of stretching our children with ideas -
I wrote this in Bambara because it glows in the dark
because it can lift a diminishing resolve from the clutches
of a cold night desert
and even dance on death’s imminent arrival

in the middle of a beautiful sea that will reject him


This man was travelling on a boat that sank off the
coast of Libya headed for Italy . AFP/Getty Images

disguised as a lullaby
to remind him 
at the moment he is embraced
in a wet, frothy death hug
that this failure is not his
it is not his
it belongs to those who will rescue his body






Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rethinking Language: A Selection of Nine Poems from Eight Young Writers

  

Kartik  Mailk/ Flickr

I am a proud mama!!! The works of Sojourner  Ahebee, my daughter, and 7 of her young peers are featured within the Atlantic Magazine's online content. Bravo. Here is the link:

Monday, August 25, 2014

To Sir With Love; Help Me Get to London

By Octavia McBride-Ahebee




Writer E. R. Braithwaite
The new school year is upon us, which often makes me think of the movie To Sir With Love and Sidney Poitier’s character and his unrelenting energy and commitment to transform the lives of his students. This is what we all want! To Sir With Love was based on the autobiographical book by Guyanese-British writer Edward Ricardo Braithwaite and his experience teaching in a tough school in London. Do check him out. He’s has a fascinating history.
I am asking you to help me have a transforming experience in London. I am a poet and community-based teacher who has been selected to participate in the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, which will be held this fall in London, England. Callaloo, a Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters based in Texas A&M University, is ranked as one of the top literary journals in the United States and is edited by the legendary Charles Henry Rowell. The workshop facilitators include novelist, essayist and Princeton Lecturer Maaza Mengiste, whose book Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is an international bestseller, and famed poet and Columbia University teaching fellow Gregory Pardlo.
In light of the current Ebola crisis, I will work on a series of poems that highlight the human stories behind this global failure.
Also here is a link to Chaka Khan singing To Sir with Love:

Urge the National Institutes of Health to Speed Up Human Trials for the Ebola Vaccine

By Octavia McBride-Ahebee

My first year in Cote d’Ivoire was difficult for me in terms of not being able to communicate with people, of not being able to easily share the new experience of a being a new bride in a foreign country beginning a new journey. Cote d’Ivoire is a French-speaking country and Francophones are so unforgiving of those of us Anglophones who on too many occasions sloppily conjugate verbs, pronounce emphatically all h’s and neglectfully misplace adjectives. Many Liberians, refugees at the time from a civil war in their country, were living in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire’s economic capital. And they were my savior. They were English-speaking and so familiar on so many levels. 

There was William, young, tall, proud, traumatized by the war in his country and from being uprooted and landing in Abidjan, which was safe, but unkind. He was a master quilt-maker, and I would sit with him for hours, detailing the designs I wanted for my quilts and he sharing the history of how he learned quilt-making; a family tradition carried to Liberia by many of the African-American slaves who settled there. 
This is the kind of history and complexity and storytelling that surrounded me. And when I lay in those handmade quilts I was wrapped in a continuity of desire and protest and connections that were palpable. I am thinking of my Liberian friends, who when my husband died, came en masse to my home in Abidjan and for three nights sung Negro Spirituals and African-American gospel songs to remind me of the continuity of life, of how we eventually meet up again, whether it be in another time period or another sphere of the world.
It is 3:30 in the morning; I am wondering where the sustained outrage is and where the support is for the Liberian people during this horrific Ebola crisis. I have friends in Liberia that I have lost touch within the last week; friends with families, with children who were scheduled to start University, friends who share all of our desires. There is only silence now and those awful images we see occasionally in the news; images that alienate you from them.
Here is link to Paul Farmer, who is a doctor, activist and Harvard professor, discussing the global inequity of global healthcare as it relates to the Ebola crisis in Liberia. Listen and then begin to actively search for a way in which you can support those affected by the Ebola crisis. I have started a letter campaign urging the National Institutes of Health to speed up human trials for the Ebola vaccine. It is our tax dollars that support this organization. Let’s make some loud demands.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Help Octavia go to Callaloo Workshop in London

Photo by Alice Gosling: http://society6.com/alicegosling
 I am a poet and community-based teacher who has been selected to participate in the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, which will be held this fall in London, England. Callaloo, a Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters based in Texas A&M University, is ranked as one of the top literary journals in the United States and is edited by the legendary Charles Henry Rowell. The workshop facilitators include novelist, essayist and Princeton Lecturer Maaza Mengiste, whose book Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is an international bestseller, and famed poet and Columbia University teaching fellow Gregory Pardlo.  
In light of the current Ebola crisis, I will work on a series of poems that highlight the human stories behind this global failure.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Violinist Kai Kight - Glorious



Kai Kight-Photo/TedxStandford
For these trying times, someone whose talent is sweet and uplifting: 2014 Stanford grad Kai Kight.

2014 Stanford  Grad Kai Kight-Photo Kight's Website: http://www.kaikight.com/
Just listen: 


3.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIbIlouN_MY




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hiroshima - 69th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing

NAKANO Kenichi 中野健一 (なかのけんいち)
A hell-like city in a sea of fire.
全市火の海となった地獄のような様子
Year of Birth: 1898 \ Age at time of blast: 47 \ Age when image created: 76
Date of image depicted: 1945/8/6
Distance from hypocenter in meters: 200
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
FUJISE Asako 藤瀬朝子 (ふじせあさこ)
Seen from Hijiyama Hill, the city was a bright red burning Hell.
真火にもえる市内を放心状態で眺める
Year of Birth: 1923 \ Age at time of blast: 22 \ Age when image created: 51
Date of image depicted: 1945/8/6
Distance from hypocenter in meters: 2000
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum