We Are Fine

Maybe you have seen the reports, of Israel attacking Gaza this past week. Maybe you only know about it from the Instagrams of smiling IDF soldiers, who all look so young. So young. On the topic, a poem from Jadaliyya, by Khaled El-Hibr:

We are fine in Gaza

How about you?

We are fine under attack

How about you?

Our martyrs are under the rubbles

Our children now living in the tents

And they ask about you

We are fine in Gaza

How about you?

….

The sea is behind us

But we fight back

The enemy is in front of us

But we still fight back

We have all what we need:

Food and arms

Promises of peace,

We thank you for your support!

We are fine in Gaza

How about you?

……

Our souls

Our wounds

Our homes

Our skies

Our faces

Our blood

Our eyes

Our coffins

Protect us from your weapons,

Your promises,

Your words,

Your swords

….

We are fine in Gaza

How about you?

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The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time

A new book of poetry by Beau Sia, or as I think of him, the guy who wore that sweater on Def Poetry Jam. It was sparkly, yes? Moving forward in time, to the new book:

the future is not a place
to play pretend with your past.

 

That’s all, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all! Ruminate on that (I have been. It’s been stuck in my head, which is why I’m sharing it with you)! And then, of course, check out the rest of the poem here. Or pre-order on beausia.com (if you haven’t already. I know you readers have good taste and keep on top of the news.)

More Riot

The literarily lovely Sahra Nyugen has a new book out, one ounce gold. There are several reasons you should check it out:

a. You need something to read or else your imagination will turn to dust and your intellect to crap.

b. I got your wish list. You asked for an Easy Bake Oven and Dalmatian puppies, but I got you some legwarmers and thick socks for the brutal New  England winter. You’ll thank me later. I refuse to wrap secret gifts, sneak them under the tree then give all the credit to an imaginary old white man  who never did anything for me! Your father and I work our asses off washing clothes and painting houses to give you everything you have. It’s not much  right now, but we are alive, healthy and together. Baby, that’s real. (That’s an excerpt. If you like it, go read more. That’s better than me telling you to have faith in my opinion, isn’t it?)

c. It’s pay as you see fit. Get while the getting is good.

Thank you for supporting my friends! Sahra’s a good one!

The Cure for Writer’s Block and Other Mysteries

I had the great privilege of spending this weekend in the Twin Cities at the APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit. Rather than gush about how on top of everything the organizers were, or how dope the people who shared were, or how in awe I am of the company we kept, I’m trying to break this down into carefully crafted reflections. Hopefully, this will help the vast majority of you who did not attend grab a little piece of the magic.

On Saturday, I sat in on David Mura’s (!) workshop where he talked about moving from poetry to memoir and fiction writing. His big take away was this: If you want to get past writer’s block, lower your standards. It doesn’t matter what you write, just start writing.

 

It’s especially true for blogging. If I stop posting on a regular basis, I never want to start again. And if I write crappy posts for a week, the next week no one can see them because they get buried behind the next week’s posts.

The Hand of a Mexican Farmworker

Martin Espada writes political poetry at it’s best. That’s because 1) he vividly humanizes his subjects, 2) he writes exactly what he believes, and 3) because he makes me believe what he writes. As I was rereading his book looking for certain poems, I rediscovered this one:

 

The Right Hand of A Mexican Farmworker in Somerset County, Maryland

.

A rosary tattoo

between thumb

and forefinger

means that

every handful

of crops and dirt

is a prayer,

means that Christ

had hard hands

too

.

– Martin Espada

Poetry for Every Day

I believe that poetry has a place in everyday life, to communicate, commemorate, etc. Like this:

For the Asian American Studies Graduation (UMass Boston, May 23, 2011)

Praise the mini-fridge

That keeps our Vietnamese iced coffee cold

Praise the cheesecake inside the fridge

And the man who makes it

Praise the computers

That hold our Stories

Praise the stories that our families lived

And the communities that we defend

Praise the histories we tell

Of immigration across centuries

Praise the professor who teaches storytelling

the professor who teaches how to teach

the professor who teaches how to think

past the things that we are told over and over to believe

Praise the Asian American Studies Office

That holds the mini-fridge and the computers

And the pleather sofa that we sleep on

And the students

The children of war and chance

Praise the students who go to class

And the students who rarely get to class

Praise a practical education

Dedicated to generations of change

Praise the class of 2011

This is What You Shall Do

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all that you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…

Walt Whitman, 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass
Not strictly poetry, but by a poet nonetheless.