Sunday, July 27, 2014

On the Attitude Toward Children in Times of War, by Dahlia Ravikovitch (translated by Chana Bloch)

This is from Chana Bloch, in response to the deaths in Gaza:

I have no words. This is by Dahlia Ravikovitch (1936-2005), one of the great Hebrew poets of our time, acclaimed for her poetry, admired and vilified for her political activism...Chana Bloch

On the Attitude toward Children in Times of War

He who destroys thirty babies  
it is as if he'd destroyed three hundred babies,
and toddlers too,    
or even eight-and-a-half year olds;
in a year, God willing, they'd be soldiers
in the Palestine Liberation Army.  

Benighted children,     
at their age
they don't even have a real world view.
And their future is shrouded, too:       
refugee shacks, unwashed faces,
sewage flowing in the streets,
infected eyes,
a negative outlook on life.

And thus began the flight from city to village,
from village to burrows in the hills.
As when a man did flee from a lion,
as when he did flee from a bear,
as when he did flee from a cannon,
from an airplane, from our own troops.  

He who destroys thirty babies,
it is as if he'd destroyed one thousand and thirty,
or one thousand and seventy,
thousand upon thousand.
And for that alone shall he find  
no peace.

from Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch
trans. Chana Bloch & Chana Kronfeld (Norton 2009).

     Author's note: This is a variation on a poem by Natan Zach that deals [satirically] with the question of whether there were exaggerations in the number of children reported killed in the [1982] Lebanon War. 
     Lines 1-2, He who destroyscf. Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5: "He who destroys a single human soul . . . , it is as if he had destroyed an entire world." 
     Lines 16-17, As when a man: Amos 5:19, about the danger of apocalyptic yearnings. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

new Split This Rock poem: Nicholas Samaras' "Anxiety Attack at 27,000 Feet"

 
                                                                               May 23, 2014
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Poem of the Week:   
Nicholas Samaras   
                Nicholas Samaras headshot



Anxiety Attack at 27,000 Feet



What is that red throbbing over the sound of engines?
Why is a distant war still being talked about in the media?
I can't see my home or Iraq or the Middle East
outside this bowed rectangle of blue altitude.
Who brought these children here?
How will this raven-haired girl grow into her life?
There is no way I can die with this room full of Bostonians.
Why is the serrated coast of New York approaching so.....rapidly?
How many of these faces will separate before the plane.....lands?
We go blind in this whiteness as my stomach descends
and, somewhere far in the back, I can hear an animal.....wailing.
Why am I wearing this black suit of my comfortable life?
Into what country will we even touch down? What if we.....splinter
and explode upon landing, the moment of our most hope and .....relief?
How will my body feel enjoined to metal, shrouded in.....upholstery?
I wish everyone peace, as we slam into the earth of our.....making.
But what is that red throbbing and these murmurs building?
What are all these stern looks of kindness and concern
as hands hold my hands and place the mask over my.....breathing face?

 
  
-Nicholas Samaras    
  
Used by permission.
  
  
Nicholas Samaras won The Yale Series of Younger Poets Award for his first book, Hands of the Saddlemaker. His new book, American Psalm, World Psalm, is now out withAshland Poetry Press (2014). He lives in West Nyack, New York.
 
 
***   
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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.  
Poem of the Week Open Call Closed 

Split This Rock's Poem of the Week series is currently closed. We will be re-opening submissions later this spring. Keep an eye out. Thanks for understanding!
Support Split This Rock 

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Be one of the first 11 to give a gift of $250 or more and we'll send you a copy of the March issue of Poetrymagazine, which includes a special portfolio of the 2014 festival featured poets, signed by all 16 poets. A collectors' item!  

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

From David Tomas Martinez's poem "Forgetting Willie James Jones"

Poem of the Week:   
David Tomas Martinez                
David Tomas Martinez 

1.

(from the poem "Forgetting Willie James Jones")


It's not water to wine to swallow harm,
though many of us have,

and changing the name
of Ozark Street to Willie Jones Street,
won't resuscitate,

won't expose how the sun roars across rows of faces
at the funeral for a seventeen-year-old-boy,

won't stop the double slapping
of the screen door against a frame,
causing a grandmother, by habit, to yell out, Willie.

It can't deafen the trophies in a dead teenager's room.
That day in '94 I felt strong.

I walked down the street with nickel bags of weed
in the belt loops of my Dickies,

and a bandana strung from my pocket.

That's when I thought trouble could be run from,
could be avoided by never sitting
with your back to the door
or near a window.

I swore by long days and strutted along a rusted past,
shook dice and smoked with the boys

that posted on the corners:
and men cruising in coupes, men built so big
they took up both seats,
I rode with them that summer.

That was the season death walked alongside us all,
wagging its haunches and twisting its collared neck
at a bird glittering along a branch.

Willie was shot in that heat,
with a stolen pistol,
in the front yard of a party.

It poked a hole
no bigger than a pebble
in his body.

The shooters came from my high school:
we sometimes smoked in the bungalow
bathrooms during lunch.

A few weeks before Willie got shot,
Maurice had been killed--

An awning after rain,
Maurice and Willie
sagged from the weight.

Some say it is better
to be carried by six
than judged by twelve.

Some say the summer of '94
in Southeast San Diego
was just another summer.


-David Tomas Martinez

Used by permission.
From Hustle (Sarabande Books, 2014)

David Tomas Martinez's work has been published or is forthcoming in Forklift, Ohio, Poetry InternationalGulf CoastDrunken BoatRHINOAmpersandCaldera Review,Verse JunkiesCalifornia Journal of PoeticsToe Good, and others. Martinez has been featured or written about in Poets & WritersHoustonia MagazineHouston Art & Culture,Houston ChronicleSan Antonio Express NewsBorder VoicesBuzzfeed, and NBC Latino. He is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Houston's Creative Writing program, with an emphasis in Poetry. Martinez is also the Reviews and Interviews Editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, and a CantoMundo Fellow. His debut collection of poetry, Hustle, will be released May 13, 2014by Sarabande Books.
***

 
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View the poem on our site.
 
Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!
  
If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.  
Poem of the Week Open Call Closed 

Split This Rock's Poem of the Week series is currently closed. We will be re-opening submissions later this spring. Keep an eye out. Thanks for understanding!
Support Split This Rock 

Please support Split This Rock, the national network of activist poets. Donations are fully tax-deductible. 

Click here to donate. Or send a check payable to "Split This Rock" to: Split This Rock, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Drone Teach-In" with Medea Benjamin!


newsletter logo
Cleveland Peace Action is proud to co-sponsor this event, a opportunity to learn about very modern and insidious drone warfare. We will be presenting workshop, Slim  Down the Pentagon and Fund Our Communities.

DRONE TEACH-IN
presented by
IMAGINE PEACE
Saturday, April 5, 2014
10:00 AM-5:00 PM
West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River, OH 44116

Medea Benjamin, keynote speaker - Co-founder of Nationally renowned grassroots social justice movement CODEPINK.

"It's a way of waging war without putting U.S. lives at risk. It's a way of waging war without letting the American people know we're even at war. It's a way of waging war that lets the CIA and other secret organizations have control-don't even have to go to Congress. It's a tremendous abuse of executive power. And it's killing a lot of innocent civilians. And the American people need to know about it." - Medea Benjamin

Download flyer for distribution and details on workshop sessions 


Meet & Greet with Medea Benjamin immediately following Teach-In. Appetizers & beverages provided. Suggested donation $20.

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch is provided. Join us for any part of the day's program. Like us on Facebook @ West Shore Imagine Peace


RSVP: kosmac.jean@gmail.com
There will be a display of the Drones Quilt Project exhibit.


Sponsored by: ACLU, AFSC (American Friends Service Committee), Cleveland Nonviolence Network, Cleveland Peace Action, Council on American-Islamic Relations, East Shore UU Church Peace Seekers, IRTF, State Representative Nickie J. Antonio, Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace - Chapter 39

Friday, February 28, 2014

Franny Choi's "Chinky"

Poem of the Week:   
Franny Choi      

Franny Choi 
  

Chinky 

I. LETTER FROM THE WORLD TO MY EYES

How'd you get so slice?
Razor pinch all flat-like? All puff
& sting? What's your allergy?
Hi bucktooth cartoon. Hi war
paddy. Hi refugee. Spit. Take it.
Tight lids. Dagger flick. Stick
shift. Tease. Lemon juice.
Wide screen. We all scream.
What are you mad? Seething in
the corner? Cat squeezing
fish spine from back? What are you
blind-eye? What are you cock-
roach? What are you gleaming
all teeth no iris at the sun's grin?


II. LETTER FROM MY EYES TO THE WORLD

Act like you've

never seen a pinhole

camera. I drink every

every. Condense light

into its smallest body.



-Franny Choi   

Use by permission.
Originally published in Radius.  

Franny Choi's poetry explores the collisions of identity, the volatility of language, and the haunting relationship between the artist's body and her body of work. She has been a finalist at the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. A Pushcart Prize Nominee, her literary work has appeared inFringeApogeeTandemAngry Asian Man, and others. Her play Mask Dances, which told the story of the 1980 Kwangju Uprising, was staged for the 2011 Writing is Live Festival. She co-coordinates ProvSlam Youth, a program for young writers in Providence, RI. Her first collection of poetry,Floating, Brilliant, Gone is forthcoming from Write Bloody Publishing in March 2014. 
 
Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive. 
 
Poem of the Week Open Call Closed 

Split This Rock's Poem of the Week series is booked through the 2014 festival. We will not be accepting any new submissions during this time. Keep an eye out next Spring when we will open up the submissions again. Thanks for understanding!
Support Split This Rock 

Please support Split This Rock, the national network of activist poets. Donations are fully tax-deductible. 

Click here to donate. Or send a check payable to "Split This Rock" to: Split This Rock, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

Contact info@splitthisrock.org for more details or to become a sponsor.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

legend legend (Jaded Ibis, 2013) by Justin Petropoulos and Carla Gannis

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  legend legend (Jaded Ibis, 2013) by Justin Petropoulos and Carla Gannis
Review by Philip Metres

A mutual friend once joked that Justin Petropoulos would one day write a memoir in which he never appeared.  That’s precisely the aesthetic that guides his poetry and the vision that it encompasses; reading Petropoulos is like reading the rebellious child of language poetry and dystopian fiction—it’s militantly forbidding at first glance, but intriguingly quotable once one settles into its chaotic disjunctive music. 

His second book, legend legend(Jaded Ibis, 2013)—a collaboration with artist Carla Gannis—emerges from a series of redactions of Edna Kenton’s The Book of Earths, a 1928 compendium of various global written and visual imagings of our planet.  It has since morphed into a series of art engagements (digital and performance-based, including digital paintings, animations, projection mapped & 3D printed sculptures) which have extended the project beyond the space-time constraints of the book. (Check out their web presence if you’d like to co-create, for example, by redaction techniques.)

The very title--(which, when typed with its precise html coding, actually disappears itself, a problem I discovered after posting this piece the first time!)--is suggestive of the source text’s double-meaning: it is at once a textual supplement or a key to a map and a kind of fabled story that speaks to a particular time and place.  But in truth, in the redactive engagement with this text and its various mappings, this is an anti-cartographic project.  It attempts to unwrite the various creation stories and foundational myths that have begun to ossify and control, rather than merely attempt to explain, the way things are as they are.  Apparently, the project’s title is an empty html tag, which requires us as readers to fill in the blanks.  It reminds me somehow of R.E.M.’s lyrics in their revisionary “Cuyahoga”: “let’s put our heads together/and start a new country up/our father’s father’s father’s tribe/ erased the parts they didn’t like/ let’s try to fill it in.” 

From the very opening lines, we have the sense of bodies navigating cities, bodies against themselves, against others: “they walk their feet against/ours speak with likelihood/are your heels higher than /your head we admire hanging/orchards the philosophers’/cities suppose a citizenry/digging with a spoon” (15).  The corresponding image suggests the contortions that such urban geographies impose upon the body.  The final line, “digging with a spoon,” evokes the absurd situation of these subject-bodies.  It’s suggestive of fruitless labor, and also echoes the classic prisoner’s attempt to escape from a life sentence. 

The entire work is pressurized by this sense of the oppressive architectures of late capitalist life.  But the vision of this book is not suffocatingly dystopic—or rather, it is dystopic in the way that dystopias tend to be beset with fissures, sites of release, apocalypse.  “When the world becomes bad,” it states at one point, “make it over again” (23).  The book—itself a recycling of books—is interested in making a new world from the remnants of the old.  The wreckage of old maps and myths, if plumbed and recombined, could produce the space for the new.  

Petropoulos’ language, embracing the antinarrativity of much language poetry, has that constitutive element of drawing into focus or clarity and then departing again, the way radio stations come in and out of signal as one passes by cities—if one were in a supersonic jet.  The danger for the reviewer is not to suggest overly obvious meanings of individual lines merely explain themselves, when the wholeness of the text embraces a kind of chaos beyond any simplistic utterances of single phrases.  “Meaning,” the text warns, “is what/we wither into” (114).

That said, I’d like to isolate some of my favorite phrases, which feel like keys to the engine of this work: “if water stretching endlessly                  bounded” (25); “buried city      an uncovering/of clauses we know           historicity” (30); “into each sketch of sleep    policies/are financed” (32); “it’s possible to sketch largely with no/ detail  how a dictionary smells”(35); “so many mirages/he could not reconcile” (49); “the urge           to glue things/together/ things which              hatch/escaping” (56).  We see the poet’s attempt goes beyond simply to “shore ruins” (as Eliot’s speaker in “The Waste Land”); he feels the way in which language itself is also implicated in the ruination. 

The book is not illustrated exactly, but re-imaged by Gannis, the way Petropoulos redacts The Book of Earths.  Her drawings are replete with bodies penetrating and penetrated by themselves, as if imprisoned by the bodies’ tentacular longings and imprisonments, the machinery of desire that gives birth to cities and digital virtualities and endless mirrors.  But amid the postapocalyptic visions, both textual and visual, something else is possible, nascent, growing.

The longing for the body through (and beyond) the language is where the text constantly pulls.  The gorgeous section, “[spooky action at a distance]” feels like an erotic creation story in its own right, riven by blanks and pauses, as if to show us that connection is what is still aimed for, despite the disjuncture:


sometimes        she is    powered           with stars


sometimes along          her spine          his        ever

                      
after     beneath her                  sinking             passed into


the mouth        again at dawn               would take us


too far              this      is          story    in the


beginning         that stirless       rest together

(38-39).


In those pauses is a positing of the possible.

Friday, December 20, 2013

From Dunya Mikhail's amazing "Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea"

Poem of the Week:   
Dunya Mikhail    

   Photo by Michael Smith          



excerpt from Part One of 
Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea

Through your eye
history enters
and punctured helmets pour out.

Frequent tremors occur in your land
as if invisible hands shake your trees day and night.

They blockaded you and banished the oxygen from your water,
leaving the hydrogen atoms to quarrel with one another.

Shouldn't the nations be disturbed by the face of a child
who shuts her mouth and eyes
in surrender to UN resolutions?
But they only opened their own mouths slightly,
smaller than a bud,
as if yawning or smiling.

We made room in our day for every star,
and our dead remained without graves.

We wrote the names of each flower on the walls
and we, the sheep, drew the grass
--our favorite meal--
and we stood with our arms open to the air
so we looked like trees.
All this to change the fences into gardens.
A naïve bee was tricked and smashed into a wall,
flying toward what it thought was a flower.
Shouldn't the bee be able to fly over the fence-tops?

Long lines are in front of us.
Standing, we count flasks of flour on our fingers
and divide the sun among the communicating vessels.

We sleep standing in line
and the experts think up plans for vertical tombs
because we will die standing.


-Dunya Mikhail

Used by permission.
From Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea
(New Directions, 2009)  

Dunya Miikhail is an Iraqi-American poet, born in Baghdad in 1965, who left Iraq for the US (Michigan) in the mid-1990s. She has worked as a journalist for The Baghdad Observer and her work was found "subversive." She was awarded the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing in 2001, and her translator, Elizabeth Winslow, won a 2004 Pen Translation Fund Award. Her first book in English, The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005, Carcanet, 2006) was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and was named one of the 25 books to remember in 2005 by the New York Public Library. It was also translated into Italian by Elena Chiti and published by Edizioni San Marco dei Giustiniani (Rome, 2011). Mikhail'sDiary of A Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, NY, 2009) won the 2010 Arab American Book Award. A new book of poetry, The Iraqi Nights, is forthcoming from New Directions in 2014.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive. 
Poem of the Week Open Call Closed 

Split This Rock's Poem of the Week series is booked through the 2014 festival. We will not be accepting any new submissions during this time. Keep an eye out next Spring when we will open up the submissions again. Thanks for understanding!
Support Split This Rock 

Please support Split This Rock, the national network of activist poets. Donations are fully tax-deductible. 

Click here to donate. Or send a check payable to "Split This Rock" to: Split This Rock, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

Contact info@splitthisrock.org for more details or to become a sponsor.

Split This Rock 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Poetry in the Everyday Project: "Hope is the Thing With Feathers"



This is from Deena Ibrahim, who made paper cranes with Emily Dickinson's poem known popularly as "Hope is the Thing with Feathers."  It began as a project about Sadako, and morphed into this delivery system for poetry.  Enjoy.