Category Archives: Poetry

Spotlight On: Three Poems by Tichaona Chinyelu

Spotlight On: Tichaona Chinyelu, Poet

TMC2
Tichaona Chinyelu, Poet

 

 

Three Poems by Tichaona Chinyelu

How Elsie Became Tuyet

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
than school
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
Tuyet.
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
victorious Vietnam.
I tested Elsie out the same way.
Two syllables, also
but disconnected from anything
truly having to do with her.

 

Then, Now
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
saying goodbye:
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,
also plebeian,
abide in the winds.
On the street
someone plucks
lamentations
from a guitar.

 

About the Poet:   TMC1 (1)

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.

My Aunt Norma in Puerto Rico circa 1955

My Aunt Norma in Puerto Rico circa 1955.

Her name was Norma Giraloma Congilosi.  She had jet black curly hair, olive skin, sloe green eyes. She was the epitome of culture, style, and grace.   She could also curse like a longshoreman and saw no contradiction in that.

Norma
Norma Giraloma Congilosi, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1955.

Almost entirely self-educated and no sufferer of fools, she started her post-secondary education at a community college only to leave, disappointed, because she was more well-read than her instructors.

She worked for United Airlines and traveled the world, often alone, which was considered unusual at that time.  She spoke French, Spanish, and Italian, including the Sicilian dialect her Sicilian/Ethiopian/North African father spoke at home.

She was a poet, a feminist, activist, and fighter for civil and equal rights way ahead of her time.

I was fascinated with Norma and her stories of beatniks, revolutionaries, poets and playwrights in San Francisco and NYC.  

Her contemporaries were white, black, brown, straight, lesbian, and gay.   She wrote poetry under the pseudonym Nya Gailord Carver. 

I loved how she simply took her freedom; she didn’t wait for it to be granted or sanctioned.

The nasty comments sometimes thrown her way were a small price to pay for autonomy.

Somewhat surprisingly, her mother, my grandmother Maria Grazia Amato Congilosi, a devout Catholic Sicilian paired in an arranged marriage with her father’s tinsmith apprentice, my grandfather Alfonso Congilosi, not only did not judge her iconoclastic daughter harshly, but seemed to vicariously enjoy her adventures.

She worried about her unconventional daughter, but she never tried to clip her wings–not even when she fell in love with a Jewish doctor and began classes to convert to Judaism after he proposed.

Norma  packed a whole lot of living into her first twenty-seven years.

She was stricken with MS at age twenty-six; she stayed independent as long as she could.

She weathered abandonment by her Jewish fiance, the loss of her spectacular San Francisco apartment, her job, and her independence,  with a feisty spirit and a salty tongue.

By age thirty she was confined to a “rest home” where she continued to curse, laugh, smoke a hookah, and shake her fist at God.

As a child, I both loved and feared visiting her there. She lived to age sixty-two; I had a hard time forgiving God for her thirty-two years in a hospital bed.

As happens in families, I was often mistakenly called by her name by my mother and grandmother.

  In our family, her name was synonymous with style, verve, and a sensibility on a first name basis with originality. 

I took it as a compliment. 

moxiebeesignaturephp

 

Author’s Note: I wrote a poem, Sweet Revenant, to her memory,  and paired it with Kristin Fouquet’s gorgeous photos of Ingrid Lucia.

 

 

Spotlight On Janette K. Hopper: New Prints and Poetry

Hopper
Piano bar, Jannette Hopper

Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome

By: Janette K. Hopper

 

We all want someplace we can go where humanity and sensitivity wins over bigotry and guilt.

 

The setting:

Smallish green striped awning

Invisible entrance

Long narrow room

Walls

Massive Mirror

Well-appointed Bar

Dark Wood paneling

Original Art

Tinned ceiling

Ceramic tiled floors

Piano…. Stage

Elaborate Large Candelabra

Sconces with candles

Small round tables

Monkey Lamp

 

Off with the Masks

She got fired from her church organist job for playing here in the early 70’s.

 

Come inside

She’s on tonight. Her jazz is filling the air like sparklers circling voice and keys.

 

Any requests

Ah it’s a special night and she is generous to share her stage. Everyone is here.

 

Contagious

Tom D is soon off to Nashville and she hammers the keys while he sings his I don’t want to go but risking all to expand my soul song.

 

Love

Melanie follows her light opera university trained voice changes the mood rising up from her small stocky life container.

 

Friends

John, a Karaoke regular, never took his eyes away from his heart while she sang, rises to pour his turn into the drink.

 

Couples

Humble Yolanda enters stage left with Ann. Oh no she won’t. Everyone is on their knees so she gives in in the end with amazing grace.

 

Silence

Check out the calendar and don’t miss the rest.

 

On Facebook

Age, Gender, Sexual Preference, Race, Culture

 

Blind

Sophisticated, Intellectual, Friendly Clientele

 

Conversation

You never know who you may meet.

 

Cause

I’ll be there dancing on the last stump.

 

Smiles, Kisses, Hugs

Tonight

Hopper
Costello’s, Janette K. Hopper

The Poet and Artist:

 

Hopper
Janette K. Hopper, Wilmington, NC

Janette K. Hopper is a retired Professor who was raised in Idaho in an active outdoor family. During college, she served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Maria la Baja, Columbia SA and afterward was a partner in a beef, grain and hay operation in Idaho. Since receiving her MFA from the University of Oregon, she has taught in Denmark, Germany and in the United States at Columbia Basin College WA, Central Michigan University and, as the Art Department Chair, at the University of North Carolina Pembroke. Her work has been shown and collected extensively in museums, public venues, colleges and universities and in private galleries nationally and internationally in Germany, France, The Netherlands, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy and Denmark.

As a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship she spent a year in Denmark, where she began to have European one-person exhibits starting in Copenhagen with a prestigious grant from Danish Fulbright.  Her landscape paintings and prints were included in a Fulbright juried retrospective in Washington, DC and also with New York artists in the Lincoln Center and in many other juried exhibitions internationally. She has exhibited in art centers and galleries in the United States, Germany, France, Bulgaria and Italy and, as a member of Paleur International, in Denmark.

She has works in many permanent collections including: The Gilkey Collection Portland Art Museum, Portland OR, the City of Mannheim Germany, the Museum of Humor and Satire in Gabrovo Bulgaria, Padagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg Germany, Gonzaga University Spokane WA, The National Park Service, Stehekin WA, many works purchased by the Washington State and Oregon State Arts Commission for permanent display in public venues, Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles CA, Bald Head Limited, Bald Head Island NC, UNCP Livermore Library, Pembroke NC, Prints Arts Northwest, Portland OR, SGC International, University of Mississippi, Oxford MS and the Marselisborg Gymnaseum in Aarhus

Janette K Hopper – Artist Statement

My works are inspired by the special places I have experienced while hiking, camping and kayaking. I have explored beaches, mountains, black water swamps, creeks, fields and visited many unique beautiful places. The outdoors long has enchanted me and inspired my art. I have learned how significant fire is to the land, water to the swamps and marshes and the interrelation of all these elements to the animals and plants we call nature. As an artist, Cezanne came close to finding an artistic mode to express his feelings about nature. It is my journey too, as an artist to observe nature and then share with you what I see through the materials and techniques of art. Through my searching gaze, artistic discipline and my sensitivity to the processes and materials of art I hope you will enjoy and feel the influence of nature in my works.

I love our parks and wild lands. I want them sustained not depleted because of exploitation and monetary motives but preserved so that all of us can find a deeper meaning. The wealth of solitude, wildness, and beauty that so enriches our inner lives and brings us peace enables us to join together and build a future.

Galleries

Art @ Work, Spokane WA
www.northwestmuseum.org/index.cfm/Art_Rental.htm

Print Arts Northwest, Portland OR
www.printartsnw.org

Framing Resource, Portland OR
www.framingresource.net

Artwork Network Gallery, Denver CO
www.artworknetwork.com/janettekhopper

Joe Rowand Fine Art Services, Chapel Hill NC
www.joerowandart.com

Printmakers of North Carolina
311 West Martin Galleries and Studios
www.printmakersofnc.com

Gallery 621N4TH
621 North 4th Street Wilmington NC
www.621n4th.com

 

Short Takes: Escape Artist by Maura Alia Badji

Escape Artist

Escape
Unknown Black Escape Artist, 1924.

 

Escape Artist

 

Each act escapes,

stripped of ribboned rubber masks,

husks our circus smiles, greases our trickster strides.

Protective coating melted, ringed

around blue tables, we sip the milk of she-wolves.

Wisely, we count ourselves

lucky, survivors forever

tickled by Fortune’s

fickle gaze.

 

~Maura Alia Badji

 

The Poet:

Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and LivingSocial.com.

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of‪ #‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Looking for Clues, a poem by Maura Alia Badji, with Art by Leonardo Benzant

BENZANT
Mayombe Magik In The Urban Jungle.

 

Looking for Clues

I am a mother anxiously waiting for her son past curfew.  I am his wary lope beneath floodlights.

I am the hoodie draped over the deejay’s freshly shaved head.  I am the brassy highlights in the bartender’s curls, I am the obituary of the old love shoved in her back pocket.

I am the neighbor making excuses to talk to you at dusk, lingering at the mailboxes.  I am the midnight whistle of the cross town train.

I am the dented trombone played by the scholarship student in New Orleans. I sing the music of the Spheres trailed behind the second line.

I am the love you make with the lights on. I am the dance you chance when you forget your cares.

I am the breath you exhale after paying your rent.

I am the last time you rode the bus, the seat you gave up, the elderly woman, the steel gray of her braids, tenderness in her stare.

I am the Ancestor murmuring in your blood.

I am the curve of the crescent moon Iman and Yasmeen spied last Ramadan. I am the prayer that broke your heart at dawn, just before it was answered.

I am the undrawn gun in the church, the moment before it was too late. I am the mother quieting her child hidden beneath a desk.

I am the unending grief unraveled.  I am the unimaginable, audacious forgiveness we somehow can’t forgive.

I am the broken teeth of the veteran sprawled across the median at rush hour.  I am the wave of wayward stardust thrown from a mermaid’s tail.

I am the tension released from your bones as day succumbs to twilight. I am the moan that escapes your lips, that spirals into the night.

–Maura Alia Badji

 

The Artist:  Leonardo Benzant, Brooklyn, NY

BENZANT
LEONARDO BENZANT, NYC

 

Artist’s Statement 

I create art connected in terms of a single vision emerging in various forms including: sculpture, painting and performance. Growing up in the 80’s, as Hip-Hop was flourishing, I felt an inner void prompted by the lack of an African-perspective in mainstream America. I began to investigate identity and spirituality. Being aware of the divide/conquer strategy of colonization, I initiated in my formative years during Catholic school, an investigation into African retentions, continuities and points of connection among the people of African descent throughout the African Diaspora for the purposes of healing, transformation and empowerment, both individual and communal.

Explore More of Leonardo Benzant’s work at his web site: http://www.leonardobenzant.com/

Recent Exhibition:

BENZANT

POWER, PROTEST, AND RESISTANCE | THE ART OF REVOLUTION

Sept 24th – Oct 31, 2015
Curated by Oshun Layne and Daniel Simmons

Rush Arts Gallery
526 W 26th St # 311
New York, NY 10001

The show took place at three venues at the same time and Leonardo Benzant’s work  was exhibited at the Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn.
Current Exhibition:
BENZANT
Rose Gallery
“The Cosmology of Resistance and Transformation”     Leonardo Benzant
Opening Reception: November 6, 2015

 

The Poet: Maura Alia Badji

benzant
Maura Alia Badji

Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and LivingSocial.com.

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of‪ #‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman aka Khadijah Moon: Multifaceted and Deliciously Creative

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman aka Khadijah Moon: Deliciously Creative

Poet/playwright/producer/creative mid-wife/ budding film-maker, Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is also known as Khadijah Moon, singer.  Multifaceted and seemingly in perpetual motion, Khadijah inspires by example and dazzles in performance.

I’m pleased to feature two of her poems today.  Through language that is often both sensual and harrowing, Ms. Ali-Coleman’s poetry reflects the beautiful struggle of being a Black woman poet/artist in our increasingly fraught time,  while simultaneously fashioning a lifeline.  Her words are indeed often “like a lasso of unbreakable strength” as she describes her indispensable consciousness in “Out of the Barrel” .

Next week, we’ll catch up with the prolific DC-born artistic renaissance woman for an interview and a chance to hear her new smash single, “hunger”.

khadijah
Khadijah Moon Press Photo

What they will say on Twitter when the police shoot me in the back

She was known to be militant

Organized people in parks to sing

And dance

Possibly riot

Although no violence was reported

There might have been.

Who is to really say?

The officer felt threatened

By her almost ten year-old car

With missing hubcaps and door handles

And her big hair

And bigger feet

And crooked eye

That looked at him the wrong way

That spoke profanity in every language to him

In that one look

#AllLivesMatter

Maybe it was the degrees he didn’t know she had

Or the gun she didn’t own

That made him suspicious of her

Maybe she ran too slow when he told her she was under arrest

For nothing

Cause something had to be the reason

He shot her

#PoliceArePeopleToo

The police just don’t shoot you for no reason

And even

if there was no reason

Other than he said she was resisting arrest

We must do our best

To maintain

That in some way, she was insane

#She was fired from more than one job

And she had amassed tickets by the dozens

#She was poor and unmarried with one child

Known to have many lovers

She was raised by a single mother who had children with three different men

#SheWasAHoe

#HereWeGoAgain

She was on unemployment less than a year before her arrest

And this was not the first time before being on it again

#lowlife #shedeservesdit #wegot2dobetterifwewantbetter

I’m sure

She had bad credit score and a whole lot of debt

Particularly from graduate school and education

Better yet,

it seems like she had the potential to cause a lot of trouble

Riling up others and causing a sensation

She was killed after a traffic stop

Causing the officer irritation,

No violation, but—he had a first of the month quota to reach

So what, she was supposedly on her way

to pick up her child and later teach

#slowdown #itsyourfault #shekilledherself

See, We  are not sure,

because

As we said before,

She has a history

Of potential criminality

You heard her history

Imagine her mentality

 

Fortunately, she did not survive

Or she would have been arrested

And who knows what other crimes she would have been charged with

If the officers hadn’t been tested

#End of the report

#Press conference

#Public statement

#The end.

Demonizing the dead is the current new trend

There is no honor in being a paycheck to paycheck living

Black woman wordsmith

You are not of value

You are not worth protecting

There is no virtue in your gifts

 

And, What would the news media say about me

when the police shoot me in the back

most likely

#notonething

Because I am a woman and I am black

–Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Out the Barrel

Through all of the hate

Rotten and sour as clotted milk curd

I crawled upright, steadying myself

and clung there, at the top

Holding tight as King Kong in New York

My fists clinched fast around that peak

Un-pried

as piercing words & angry actions

wrap round my legs

like steel tentacles, heavy and void of feeling

Trying to drag me down yet

I don’t fall

My consciousness, like a lasso of unbreakable strength

Lifts me higher until my feet are no longer

bound by ground and my mind, unblemished and new

no longer

aware that confines once existed

by Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

 

khadijah
Khadijah Moon, hunger–the new smash single!

Passionately human and deliciously creative, DC-born Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is The Creative Midwife, a creativity coach and modern renaissance woman.  She helps creatives give birth to their creative dreams. A playwright, poet, singer & emerging filmmaker, Moon is founder of Liberated Muse Arts Group, the brand she brought to life in 2008 as an online digital community for artists.  Since then, she has produced book anthologies, music & theatrical shows through Liberated Muse, including her production In Her Words which, since 2012,  has been commissioned for performances at the Smithsonian, United States Peace Corps, DC Public Library System and other venues. She is a recipient of a 2015 Individual Artist Award for Non-Classical Music Solo Performance by the Maryland State Arts Council. She lives in Maryland with her partner and their daughter.

Learn more at http://www.thecreativemidwife.com

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

Passionately human and deliciously creative, Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is The Creative Midwife™. Let The Creative Midwife™ Help You Birth Your Creative Dreams Today!

 

Impresiones/Impressions, a poema/poem de/by Rafael Ayala Paz

Impresiones/Impressions, a poema/poem de/by Rafael Ayala Paz

impressions

Impresiones

La memoria está en la yema de los dedos
Los colores están en los ojos
La infancia está contenida en la columna vertebral
Los mundos nacen en cascarones rotos
Siempre habrá un signo en todo objeto
Una señal desdibujada en el horizonte
Un presagio de infinito en la noche
Un destello suspendido en la frente
Un viejo olor bajo los guijarros
Un sol rojo detrás de las colinas
Amaneceres en los parpados
Globos flotando en el cielo
Aldeas insospechadas en la planta de los pies
Anémonas gigantes en las nubes
Seres que caminan de cabeza
Soles como pupilas
Buzos ahogados en un vaso de agua
Náufragos de la desesperación
Locomotoras exhalando un enjambre de moscas
Árboles que entienden lo que decimos
Un reloj con brazos y piernas
Una torre sumergida en un charco
Ojos llorando aves
Sueños que conducen sus autos en la noche
Balsas que atraviesan las arterias dejando una estela de estrellas
Canciones buscando la luz
Cielos tensos como codos y brazos
Ciudades edificadas en mi mano izquierda
Soles entre los dedos
Mareas de oídos sordos
Pedazos de playas en la retina
Insectos acuáticos
Mapas de lugares remotos como las galaxias
Discusiones sobre asuntos que pronto olvidaremos
Islas que son sonidos nidos
Impresiones de todo lo soñado
visto
olido
escuchado
presentido
sentido
de gustado
olvidado…

Impressions

Memory is in the fingertips
Colors are in the eyes
Infancy is contained in the backbone
Worlds are born in broken shells
There will always be a sign in every object
made vague in the horizon
An infinite omen in the night
A sparkle suspended on the forehead
An old smell beneath the pebbles
A red sun behind the hills
Sunrises on the eyelids
Balloons floating in the sky
Villages unsuspected in the soles of feet
Giant anemones in the clouds
Beings that walk on their heads
Suns like pupils
Divers drowned in a glass of water
Shipwrecks of desperation
Locomotives exhaling a swarm of flies
Trees that understand what we say
A clock with arms and legs
A tower submerged in a puddle

Eyes crying birds
Dreams that drive their cars in the night
Rafts that navigate the arteries leaving a trail of stars
Songs searching for the light
Skies tense like elbows and arms
Cities built in my left hand
Suns between fingers
Tides of deaf ears
Pieces of beaches in the retina
Aquatic insects
Maps of remote places like galaxies
Discussions over matters that we will soon forget
Islands that are nests of sounds
Impressions of everything dreamed
seen
smelled
heard
sensed
felt
liked
forgotten…

— Rafael Ayala Páez, Zaraza, Guárico, Venezuela

Through the vague, yet intricately woven mysteries of the Internet, I virtually met Rafael Ayala Paez in September of 2012 when he wrote to me via Facebook. He found me through my author listing on the Poets & Writers website, read some of my work, as well as reviews I had written, and invited me to write a brief preface for his forthcoming collection, “La levedad de la materia/ The lightness of matter”.

He also asked if he could translate and publish a few of my poems in Venezuela through the online journal “Negro Sobre Blanco”. I was a little taken aback, because while I’ve had my work published over the years I’m not exactly well-known in the US, let alone Latin America. Yet, he sincerely enjoyed my poems and made it clear that the offer was not one of quid pro quo for writing the preface.

After immersing myself in the deceptively unadorned language of his manuscript I agreed to both requests. His book was published shortly afterwards; two of my poems appeared in the Oct/Nov 2012 edition of “Negro Sobre Blanco” in as translated by Rafael and Brooklyn-based poet/writer/activist Emanuel Xavier.(http://issuu.com/negrosobreblanco/docs/periodico_oct_nov on page 8)

In my preface to “La levedad de la materia/ The lightness of matter”, I wrote:
“Rafael Ayala Paez has the enviable ability to write about the heaviest and deepest of matters —love, sex, death, longing —with the lightest of touches. His is a voice that informs without hectoring, seduces without cloying, convinces without shouting. In La levedad de la materia/ The lightness of matter, his images alight on the page; we can’t help but turn to see where they will lead us next. “

Rafael Ayala Paez’s work is a natural choice for me to include in my week of Virtual Dream Residency here at Ione’s Festival of Dreams; his poetry often seems imbued with the imagery of dreams. Unexpected metaphors and discursive word play accrete only to give way to a suddenly crystallized image imbued with pure though unsentimental emotion.

The Venezuelan poet Gregory Zambrano says of “Impressions”:
“In the poem there are worlds in movements that go from sleep to wakefulness and back, appealing to the confusion of the senses, finding sound and word play, revealing from apparent diversion, a great unease.”

With Rafael’s permission, I’m happy to direct you to a link where you may download a free e-book edition of his 2012 collection; I hope you will read, enjoy, and perhaps reach out to the poet who continues to live fully as a poet and writer despite a less than hospitable national climate of political upheaval, violence (25,000 murders in 2014 alone) and economic pressures.

Once you reach the site, click on the book cover for “The lightness of matter” for the free download.

http://www.poetscoop.org/free.htm

~Maura Alia Badji

The poet: Rafael Ayala Páez was born in Zaraza, Guárico, Venezuela in 1988. He studied at the Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodríguez (UNESR), and was a founding member of the Municipal Writers Network of Zaraza.
His collections include Bocados de silencio and The lightness of matter (both 2012), and his work was featured in The Blue Hour Anthology – A collection of poetry, prose and art (2013).
His poems have been translated into English, German, French, and Hebrew.

The translator: Roger Hickin (b. 1951) is a New Zealand poet, visual artist, book designer, and publisher.
Roger is the director of Cold Hub Press which publishes poetry in several languages, including bilingual chapbooks of poems by two Chilean poets: Juan Cameron (with translations by the celebrated US translator Cola Franzen) and Sergio Badilla Castillo (with translations by Roger Hickin and the author).

Painting: The Reality of Dreams by Carlos A. Soli, Venezuela, 2012

Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA Youth Poet Laureate

laureate
Raven Bland, outside library at ODU. Photo by Bruce Ebert, (Picasa)

Somehow I did not realize until last week that Norfolk, VA has a Youth Poet Laureate.  I found this happy news where I find quite a bit of my media updates–on a friend’s Facebook page.

The Poetry Society of America‘s website states:

The National Youth Poet Laureate initiative (YPL) is a program of Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization, that strives to elevate the voices of teens while promoting civic engagement and social justice.

Raven Bland an alumnus of Teens With a Purpose–The Youth Movement, is the inaugural youth poet laureate for Norfolk and the first in Virginia.  Other cities with laureates include New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Houston and Nashville.

A graduate of Granby High School, she’s currently a history major at Old Dominion University with a political science minor,

Ms. Bland was the subject of a Virginian-Pilot article, by Bruce Ebert, this past May,  in which she spoke about her literary  journey from unsure pre-teen to her state’s first Youth Poet Laureate, an honor she won in April, 2015.

In the Pilot article, Deirdre Love, the Executive Director of Teens With a Purpose, said of Raven Bland,

She inspires me. She embodies the best of what youth is about. She understands that words matter. Any city would be proud to have her as a representative.”

In addition to her title,  Raven Bland will have a  book of her poems published by Penmanship Books; the publisher will also arrange book signing a Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

Poet
Raven Bland, Norfolk, VA, Youth Poet Laureate.

Here are two of her poems. The first, Lady in the Curtains: Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland,  was originally published on the Poetry Society of America’s page.

Lady in the Curtains:
Hallucination in the Jewish Square of Poland

I glanced at a curtained window
Thin blue sheets
I imagined an aging analogy
With flowers and butterflies
Attached to thread
I seen a small grey haired head.

Ages were gray
Hair was gray
Skin was pale
Bones as thin as a nail.

I seen her bones grow
Seen her skin fatten
I seen her grin towards me
But nothing happened
I stood still,
Frozen, paralyzed
In wonder,
Curious even.
She glanced right, glanced left.
As she was looking for something.

After a single grin, her lips faded thin,
What was she looking for,
Why was she still here?
Doesn’t she know the attitudes
The hate, the disbelief
They consciously think: God choose you not me.
See, they’re jealous, get out of here, flee.
Go to the place God created you to be.

I stare into her eyes, she’s speaking to me:
This is my home, I created it to be.
They have robbed me of enough,
They won’t take all of me.

She glanced left, glanced right
With her head out her curtained window.
I seen her head then fade in between.

–Raven Bland

 

“Lame”

Your scent swallowed me

As I slide into my blanket. 

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

 

It’s only been a couple of days 

Since your body laid underneath.

And yet your scent refuses to leave.

Figures, though

Your strong personality

Dominates and leads.

It doesn’t back down for nobody

And I mean nobody

But me.

 

I remember when you were underneath .

I was there too.

I remember how soft your eyes grew.

Like a turtle,

Hiding under that huge shell

And slowly peeping from beneath.

You didn’t think I saw you,

Because you quickly tried to push yourself back inside

Without the consequences.

 

Your secret is out though baby,

I saw it.

Your shell is just a cover,

You’re all soft underneath.

And I love it.

Don’t hide it from me,

Let me be soft with you,

Out here we can’t survive that way,

But let me come under your shell too

And we can discuss the ways

The stars make our eyes twinkle

And the moon molds our hearts together

How the silence sweeps our thoughts in loops and intertwines.

We can discuss our pasts’ hurts

And maybe even cry.

We can be soft together,

I don’t mind.

 

I remember when you held my hand here,

Them rough hands of man hood

Grabbed my delicate ones.

A piece of me died inside your palms

A layer of me unraveled.

You watched it,

I saw you,

And your eyes were baffled.

 

See if it’s only been about 3 months,

But our friendship has endured much longer.

You didn’t know this side of me,

Didn’t know how strong my gravitational pull was,

How I make your mind wonder.

Didn’t know I could see so deep into you,

In ways no girl before has.

And you grew scared,

I laugh, never in person though,

At how much you were amazed.

At how a woman could treat you in such good ways.

 

It all happened here,

And I can’t help but reminisce.

Your scent swallowed me 

As I slid into my blanket.

I’m laying here lame

I won’t move because

I’m afraid to blow your scent away.

–Raven Bland

 

***Look for an upcoming interview with Raven Bland later this month. 

moxiebeesignaturephp

In Medusa’s Arms , a poem by Nicole Goodwin

 

Medusa
Black Medusa, Fatoumata Diawara

 

In Medusa’s Arms (Inside the belly of fire and stone) Gas Leak chronicles Pt. IV

 

My love

I am fully aware

of your presence

the feel of your body

the heat from your/breath

revealing the fire

growing/inside your chest

and mine

we are one

in the same

under the distance

we are close

closer and closer

still

under the blue-black

night

a blanket/made only for lovers

such as you and I

and with every inhale

and exhale

that rises

and falls

my love/

I can feel you

I can still

feel you

always

now and forever.

–Nicole Goodwin

Medusa
NICOLE GOODWIN, NYC.

Nicole Goodwin is a mother, artist, and a wounded healer ever pursuing enlightenment.

Sweet Revenant, for Norma, a poem by Maura Alia Badji

Sweet Revenant,  for Norma

In French heels, you were film
noir to the neighborhood’s two-reel
matinee. Sloe-eyed and languorous
your gaze said I’m not here to stay.
Years-gone, yours was the voice, husky
and moist, I tried on in night clubs,

poet haunts. Confident your muse could lend
siren-sleek accents, glimmers of poise
to quirky choices, I stutter-stepped my way
home. Hopefully chic in black dresses,
I side-swiped heart quakes, courted

disaster, certain my map of your insolent
laughter would save the day. More than once,
I swore I caught your slim, crepe de chined
form leaning languid at my door. Face half-turned
from porch-light, I breathed your dreamy whisper–
Buona seda, faccia bedda. Sleep, sleep tight.

~Maura Alia Badji

 

Poet: Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and LivingSocial.com; she has guest-blogged for NOLAFemmes, Eat.Drink.Memory, and piquant. Her blog is The Moxie Bee http://www.themoxiebee.com

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color ( https://twhpoetry.wordpress.com/) and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of ‪#‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Maura earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of WA, Seattle, where she was an Editorial Assistant to Coleen J. McElroy at The Seattle Review. Maura was a Tutor/Advocate for migrant children from the Caribbean and Mexico, and taught ESL night classes to migrant workers in Ulster/Dutchess Counties. She taught Early Childhood Special Education for a decade in the Mid-Hudson Valley of NY, Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia. She is a certified massage therapist and a Reiki practitioner.

A NY State native, she lives and dreams in the Seven Cities region of Virginia with her son, Ibrahim. She is working on returning to the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Photos: Wanderlust, Front
Wanderlust, Back

Photographer: Kristin Fouquet, New Orleans, LAhttp://www.fouquet.cc/kristin/LeSalon.html

Model: Ingrid Lucia, New Orleans, LA
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/ingrid-lucia-mn0000090010

Wanderlust
Wanderlust, front by Kristen Fouquet
Maura Alia Badji
Wanderlust, Back; by Kristin Fouquet