Elsie was a straight A student
a dutiful daughter and a fluent speaker
of three languages
two of which were colonial.
I spoke only English
was outwardly dutiful
but cared more about learning
and had the grades
to prove it.
We became mismatched friends
Elsie and I
enough so, I felt empowered to ask
why the French French teacher called her
Americans say Tuyet is hard to pronounce
so to make it easy I chose Elsie.
I tested it out on my one language tongue:
Tuyet, two syllables
that tied her to the territory of her birth
I tested Elsie out the same way.
Two syllables, also
but disconnected from anything
truly having to do with her.
Then, moans not mine
manifested through walls
like copulating ghosts.
Now, when I hear sounds
through the walls
I remember my own moans
and how they climaxed
into this life
where I am a mother
listening to my child
read himself to sleep.
Face and Masks Cento
Ever since dawn
the ground has been steaming
pleading for a drink
while the living seek shade
and fan themselves.
Hidalgo spent the night with his eyes
fixed on the ceiling of the cell
My father didn’t put me among the rich
or the generals or those who have money
or claim to have it.
My father put me with the poor
because I am poor.
At the edge of the village of Morón
a common grave
swallows the bones of a poet
who until yesterday
had a guitar
and a name.
His unshrouded body
ends up in the earth;
his couplets, also naked,
abide in the winds.
On the street
from a guitar.
About the Poet:
Tichaona Chinyelu is a writer, mother and author of three books of poetry: In the Whirlwind,Still Living on my Feet and Contraband Marriage. Ms. Chinyelu’s work has been published in LineZero, Step Up to the Mic: A Poetry Explosion and various online journals including Poems of Solidarity for Haiti – In Motion Magazine, Sierra Leone Web, etc.
Ms. Chinyelu has also published books by A. Shakur Towns, Melanie YeYo Carter and Abena Isake under the banner of her publishing company, Whirlwind Publishing. She also maintains a blog at stilllivingonmyfeet.com.
In Quotations: Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World
“Art replaces the light that is lost when the day fades, the moment passes, the evanescent extraordinary makes its quicksilver.
Art tries to capture that which we know leaves us, as we move in and out of each other’s lives, as we all must eventually leave this earth.
Great artists know the shadow, work always against the dying light, but always knowing that the day brings new light and that the ocean which washes away all traces on the sand leaves us a new canvas with each wave.”
from The Light of the World , the memoir Elizabeth Alexander wrote following the unexpected death of her husband, artist and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus.
I recently read Elizabeth Alexander’s luminously sad, yet ultimately joy-filled memoir, which she wrote to make sense of the sudden death of her robustly healthy husband right days after his 50th birthday party.
The book is a memoir but also a down to earth love story.
Theirs was that lucky rarity in our times of fifty-percent divorce rates and Tinder–a truly happy marriage, between two artists, a poet and an painter.
Alexander examines their life together, the nature of memory, the necessary functions of art, and how the living somehow go on after loved ones take their leave.
At 209 pages, The Light of the World , is a fast read, but one that will stay with you and beckon you to return to it’s pages once you finish.
Catching Up With Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: The Moxie Bee Interview
Last week The Moxie Bee featured the poetry of the multi-talented Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, who also sings as Khadijah Moon.
You can read about how her stage name evolved into its current celestial incarnation at her Artsy Moon blog.
Calling her a renaissance woman almost doesn’t cover her creative output: poetry, short stories, plays, songs, the production of events and programs, and soon–films.
Featured here today is her new single, titled “hunger”.
The song was written in response to her mother’s death during a period of estrangement, as she dealt with the pain of losing her with unfinished business left behind.
Khadijah shared some of the song’s back-story on her blog:
I wrote this song “hunger “less than a month after she died. I have questions.
I have this intense love. I have a lot of anger. What came out was a letter to her in song about all of that. My life partner, who is also my producer, composed beautiful music on his guitar to accompany the song andthisis what we came up with.
I shared the song on my Facebook personal page yesterday and received feedback from others who had similar relationships with their mothers, could relate to the sentiment. I received feedback from folks who have (or have had) struggle-free relationships with their moms and still could find value in the words of the song, even more grateful for their relationships with their mothers.
The song is beautiful; the sound is warm and smooth, with an undertone of ache that is never maudlin.
I encourage you to buy it, download it, and add it to your collection.
But wait–there’s more: Khadijah is also known as The Creative Midwife™,which is the business she created to help anyone with a creative dream bring it to life.
The Moxie Bee: What came first for you: singing, poetry, creative mentoring?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I’ve been writing since I could write words, I think.
I remember writing songs, as a little kid (inappropriate songs, at that) and short stories as early as elementary school.
Whenever I learned a new form of writing formally, I embraced it lovingly and would play around with it on my own.
It went hand in hand with my voracious appetite for reading.
I’ve written poems, plays, songs, short stories and (incomplete) novels nonstop since childhood.
Very thankful to have had some of my work published, plays produced and songs recorded.
I began loving to sing as I started to fall in love with musical theater and getting to sing more in music classes.
I recall the kick off of my singing on stage being this one year where I convinced my 5 year-old sister to sing “My Favorite Things” in the school talent show while I played it on piano.
I was so proud that I had learned how to play it. When we went to audition, she ran off stage in the middle of me playing and, to play it off, I started singing it.
The teachers auditioning us loved it. I wound up singing it for my 6th grade graduation that year instead of the talent show.
The Moxie Bee:What music most fuels your urge to create?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: Honestly, I don’t know
The Moxie Bee: What inspired you to start working as a creative midwife–helping others birth and fulfill their creativity?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I began to brand myself as a creativity coach when I started to get inquiries from others on how to self-publish after I published the first anthology in the Liberated Muse book anthology series.
I started doing workshops and then decided to offer basic editing and proofreading services until one of my clients, the late Nathan Seven Scott, started wanting to work with me in more of a coaching capacity.
I helped him with organizing his concepts, which led to our sessions really becoming breakthrough moments.
I would assign him readings of online resources and really worked with helping him build his skills which led to him really expanding his goals to writing more books, building a writing team, etc.
My work with him inspired me to want to do more with other clients.
I chose the name The Creative Midwife because the most significant moment in my life was giving birth to my daughter with the assistance of a team of midwives who were the epitome of grace, nurturing and expertise.
My beautiful brown baby– now a pre-teen– would not have arrived safely (during a hurricane, no less) if it weren’t for the care of the midwives who helped me.
The Moxie Bee: Who are your creative heroes and heroines?
Khadijah Moon: Toni Morrison is one of my main inspirations lately when it comes to writing.
Her unapologetic attention to her characters, crafting them from a perspective not dependent on a white gaze is empowering, inspiring and validating.
I have always loved the poetry of Langston Hughes.
His simple phrasing coupled with ironic yet charming storytelling always captivated me as a child and I love it to this day.
The way he said a lot without writing a lot is a gift very few have.
Lastly, I cannot fail to mention Robert Frost.
Learning about him in 10th grade English at Friendly High School in Maryland with the best English teacher every, Mr. Poniatowski was a turning point for me as a writer and reader.
Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” engaged me in literary analysis and understanding how words can be arranged in a way to say so much that can be interpreted in different ways based on the experience of the beholder, like visual art.
I can go on and on about people who I look at as s/heroes but those mentioned have been the most consistent.
The Moxie Bee: Have you participated in the Black Poets Speak Out project?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: Yes, I have participated in Black Poets Speak Out.