Friday, July 30, 2010

2010 Consequence Prize in Poetry: for best poem addressing the culture and

CONSEQUENCE Magazine Announces

The 2010 Consequence Prize in Poetry

The prize will be awarded for the best poem addressing the culture and
consequences of war.

The winner will receive $200, have the selected poem published in both print and online editions of CONSEQUENCE, receive a three year subscription to the magazine, and be invited to read at the launch of CONSEQUENCE Magazine's next issue.

All poems submitted will be considered for publication in both print and online editions.

Our Judge this year is poet Joyce Peseroff who will also present the award.

Submission Guidelines
· No entry fee is required.
· Entry deadline is September 30, 2010.
· All poems must be in English: no translations please.
· Submit up to three original and unpublished poems.
· The total number of pages submitted should not exceed six pages.
· Submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter with biographical
information, address, phone number, and email address. Please state
that you are submitting to the contest.

Email Submissions
· In the subject header write Consequence Prize in Poetry
· Send to: (replace (at) with @)
· Email submissions should be in the form of a Microsoft Word document.

Mailed Submissions
· Send to: Consequence Prize in Poetry, Consequence Magazine, P. O. Box
323, Cohasset, MA 02025-0323
· Please include a SASE for notification of results.

Visit our website at

CONSEQUENCE is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Donations are tax

Wednesday, July 28, 2010



In March 2007, a car bomb exploded in the heart of Baghdad’s
centuries-old literary center, igniting bookstores and stationery shops.

Pages flit above the ruined bookstalls.
Blank or dark with words, it doesn’t matter:

paper is as dangerous as ink—as thought.
And as for the student who was reading

in a dim café, the old men buying envelopes
across the lane, flames turned them to light,

then ash, with chemical indifference.
War tossed a match and stayed to watch

the old block burn—journals, histories,
novels, verse, dictionaries, textbooks,

anatomy primers with charts of the body
like maps of a familiar country—shops on fire

with what’s been written and what hasn’t:
the script in which mercy might repeat itself.

-Jody Bolz

Used by permission.

Jody Bolz is the author of A Lesson in Narrative Time. Her poems have appeared widely in literary magazines--The American Scholar, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry East among them--and in many anthologies. She taught creative writing for more than 20 years at George Washington University, and in 2002 became an executive editor of Poet Lore, America's oldest poetry journal, founded in 1889.

Bolz appeared on the panel What Makes for Effective Political Poetry: Editors' Perspectives with Poet Lore co-editor E. Ethelbert Miller during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.
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!

Split This Rock;

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945
PAND and Peace Action present 27th Annual Concert August 6th

PERFORMERS AND ARTISTS FOR NUCLEAR DISARMARMENT and CLEVELAND PEACE ACTION present the 27th annual concert in observance of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki August 6 and August 9, 1945.

Friday, August 6, 8:00 pm at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Coventry Road and Fairmount Boulevard, Cleveland Heights. Free will offering: $10 suggested donation. Reception following the concert.

Download flyer for details and distribution

THE FOUR SEASONS - Antonio Vivaldi - Martin Kessler, conductor, and Derdriu Ring, reader, featuring Young Artists of Tomorrow, violin soloists Nicholas Bi, Robin Su, James Thompson, and Daniel Zhou, and the 2010 PAND Peace Action Contest winning essay. For more information, call Gino Raffaelli at 216.991.4500

Check our website for the latest news you won't find in the mainstream media, local events, current legislation, media contact information.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A.R. Ammons' "Correction"


The burdens of the world
on my back
lighten the world
not a whit while
removing them greatly
decreases my specific

~ A. R. Ammons ~

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"A Path Through Grass" by Rolf Jacobsen

This passed along from my friend, the poet Sarah Gridley. I hope you all are enjoying the summer paths. If not, take a walk, people, and check out them stars through the haze and clouds, and listen to the crickets all winding their old-style watches.


A path through grass
worn as an old hoehandle
and pale as silver.
The silent things
that build bridges so many places,
roads after dead people, a handle,
a path in the field
moves like an unreal thing through summer,
moon bridges built over the green sea.

Rolf Jacobsen, trans. Robert Bly

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why "Tired of Speaking Sweetly" Feels Like My Spiritual Autobiography These Days

With all the physical pain that I've endured the past six months due to an injury and subsequent chronic suffering, and the emotional and spiritual tumult that invariably ensues from pain, I found this poem--in its brutal vision of God--oddly sanguine, strangely familiar. What seems remarkable to me about the poem, from a contemporary eye, is how this rather old poem feels both politically incorrect and yet how powerfully modern. God as drunk spouse who likes to rough us up?!


Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

~ Hafiz ~

(The Gift – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Release Party at Mac's Backs, 7/27/ 7pm : I Go to the Ruined Place (Philip Metres, Stacey Waite, Carolyne Wright)

Book Release poetry reading:
I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights
Tuesday, July 27th at 7 p.m.
Mac's Backs Paperbacks
1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Hts, OH 44118

I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights is an astonishing new anthology featuring the work of a wide range of poets including Li Young Lee, Lois Red Elk, Martha Collins, Farnoosh Moshiri, Tamiko Beyer and Carolyn Forche.

Philip Metres (Cleveland), Stacey Waite (Pittsburgh) and Carolyne Wright (Seattle) will be at Mac's to read their poems and others from the collection.

Philip Metres is the recipient of the 2010 Cleveland Arts Prize for Emerging Artist in Literature. He has published several books including To See the Earth (CSU Press 2008) and edited Come Together Imagine Peace (Bottom Dog Press 2008). He is an active and engaged member of Cleveland's social justice community.

Stacey Waite teaches writing and gender studies at the University of Pittsbugh. She was honored with the Frank O'Hara Prize for Poetry in 2004 for her chapbook Choke.

Carolyne Wright has published numerous books, chapbooks and translations. Her most recent book is A Change of Maps (Lost Horse 2006). She has participated and taught at writing conferences, workshops and festivals throughout the country including Seattle's Bumbershoot, the Geraldine R. Dodge Festival, CSU's Imagination Conference and the Santa Fe Writers Conference.

I Go to the Ruined Place is published by Lost Horse Press and the editors statement is excerpted below:

"We drafted our call loosely: We are increasingly witness to torture, terrorisms and other violations of human rights at unprecedented degrees. What do our instincts tell us and what is our response to these violations? What is our vision of a future wherein human rights are not only respected but expanded?

What we received were both first hand accounts of violation—see prisoner Adrian English’s “Raped Man’s Stream of Consciousness,” or Farnoosh Moshiri’s poem recounting the terror of giving birth in Iran, or Li-Young Lee’s “Self-Help for Fellow Refugees”—and responses from people who feel struck personally by the blows enacted on others: To speak for, to speak as, and to speak against. We were surprised at the range of issues spoken to by the poets. While torture remained a critical topic, as well as issues at stake in the Iraq War, there were also poems that addressed immigrant rights, prisoners’ rights, the Holocaust, the wars in Cambodia, Vietnam, Serbia, South America, Palestine and Israel. We received poems that spoke of suicide bombing, violence against women, the aftermath of 9/11, and outlawing marriage for gay Americans.

We were also moved at the range of experience among the responders: homeless advocates, civil rights workers, clinical social workers, medics, the mentally ill, veterans, humanitarian aid workers, teachers, conscientious objectors, and, of course, many writers who work and fight daily for social justice in their communities. We are particularly proud of the number of Native American poets included in this anthology, something unusual in anthologies of this sort. It seemed to us impossible to collect a group of poems on human rights issues if we didn’t acknowledge the far reaching and often appalling violations that have taken place in our own country."

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Poem" by Muriel Rukeyser

Poem by Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Carolyn Forche's Commencement Address

Thanks to Paul Lauritzen for passing this along to me--poet Carolyn Forche's commencement address to the University of Scranton. Forche remains one of our best poets trying to restore ourselves to ourselves, ourselves to each other, to paraphrase Muriel Rukeyser.

Carolyn Forché 
Commencement Address
The University of Scranton
May 30, 2010

    It is a great honor to be here for the Commencement of the Class of 2010 at The University of Scranton. This is a very special place, as all of you know. I have been very moved since my arrival by the spiritual joy so palpable on this campus, I would like to express my gratitude to the President of The University of Scranton, Father Scott Pilarz of the Society of Jesus, and to the members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, members of the faculty, and most especially, the Class of 2010 and their families.

    Thank you for inviting me to address you this morning, and to say a few parting words – to put one more little something into the rucksack you have been packing – however wittingly, diligently or even a bit haphazardly – during your years at Scranton. This rucksack now holds the books you have read, underlined and dog-eared, those you fell asleep while reading, whether assigned or unassigned, passages committed to memory, films watched, the languages learned, the discussions held in classrooms or late into the night in the dorms, the art and music you have made, the arguments passionately engaged, the lab experiments and field work, your enchantment, your critical skills, your capacities for intellectual rigor and discernment as you have developed them, your creativity and independence of mind, your habits of thought, all will go with you now, and all will be useful during the whole of your life, in moments of crisis and solitude, in far-flung places and at home, in emergencies, in quiet hours, against failures of the spirit and imagination, and yes, against prejudice and assaults upon the common good. You have everything you need, everything you have given yourselves and all you have been given by your peers and mentors. And, you will use and need it all. I say this from experience, having packed for my own journey 38 years ago.

    Some of you know where you are going. You are off to professional schools or graduate schools or if you are exceptionally fortunate and blessed, given these difficult times, you have already been hired for the work you wish to do. Others, and you are no small number, remain uncertain about what lies ahead. I was once one of you. At university I somehow accidentally gave myself what many of you more carefully chose: a liberal education in the arts and sciences. As a college student, I wasn’t at all sure what my future vocation would be, and so I took courses in what interested me: history, literature, languages, philosophy, the arts, and so I reached my senior year having changed my major five times. Somehow I managed to slip through the gates of curricular requirements, and in my senior year I received a letter informing me that I could not graduate because I had yet to complete any major at all. Of course I couldn’t give this news to my dear parents, and so I rushed to the office of one of the few professors I had come to know personally, a refugee from post-war Europe, and when I showed him my letter he exclaimed “but this is a disaster!” I know, I said, but please, can you help me? Still appearing quite exasperated, he said he would study my situation and I should return to his office in a week. I worried my way through that week, but went to his office at the appointed hour, and waited my turn while sitting on the hallway floor, writing poems. “Come in!!” he said, and so I entered the sanctuary of his intellectual life, piled high with books and papers, monographs and articles, class notes from the last century and so on. “Sit down!” he said, and “don’t worry, you have a major!!” While he searched for my folder, I wondered what it was that I knew very much about at all. My dear, he said, you have accidentally majored in International Relations. You have taken all the necessary classes, without meaning to of course, but you have done so. But, I protested, I don’t know anything about International Relations. That’s all right, he replied. Nobody does. So with my degree in International Relations and a self-designed minor in creative writing, I went out into the world to write poetry, and while poetry became my life, my destiny also took me to countries at war – in EI Salvador, Guatemala, and Lebanon, and to Northern Ireland during the troubles and to South Africa in the final days of the Apartheid regime – and in those places, I had need of everything I had ever learned  - every word of Spanish and French, and all I had read of history and ethics, of philosophy and literature, so as to ground me in humane understanding, and to enable me to keep faith and courage in difficult times. The story of how all of this began is too long to tell here, but suffice it to say that one day a great humanitarian and visionary whose name was Leonel Gomez Vides appeared at my front door and invited me to spend a year in EI Salvador, learning about the country, which he believed would be at war in three to five years. He wanted a poet to see it from the beginning, to understand the suffering of his people, so that when war came, that poet could return to the United States and help Americans to understand his country. I tried to explain to him how Americans view poets, but he didn’t listen. I didn’t know what to do, or what would happen, but I knew that a door was opening. My decision to accept this invitation did not seem momentous at the time, but it changed my life forever. Remember that most of your important decisions might not at the time seem momentous.

    During the years 1978 to 1980, I worked as a human rights activist in EI Salvador, where I sought and received the guidance of Father Ignacio Ellacuria of the Society of Jesus, one of six Jesuit priests murdered along with their two co-workers by the Salvadoran army on Nov. 16, 1989. His door was always open, as it was for all. This was his message: “The struggle against injustice and the pursuit of truth cannot be separated nor can one work for one independent of the other.” He and the other Jesuit fathers gave the people courage and hope; they stood with the poor and accepted their fate. Last November, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of their deaths, as it is commemorated every year in El Salvador, when thousands of people come to the capital to celebrate an open air mass and hold a candle light vigil. This past March, we also commemorated the 30th anniversary of the death of Monsignor Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador. The week before his death, I met with Monsignor in the kitchen of the convent of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters, where he told me gently that it was time for me to go home, as the situation had become too dangerous, and I was more needed in the United States, in the work of helping Americans to understand the struggle for justice in a country named for the Savior of the world. I pleaded with him to let me stay for a few more weeks, and then begged him to leave as well, as his was the first name to appear on the death squads’ lists, and he was more endangered than anyone else. I remember how calm he seemed that afternoon, tapping his fingers on the Bible he carried with him. And I remember realizing in that moment that I was in the presence of a saint. No, he said, my place is with my people, and now your place is with yours. As a citizen of the United States, I had never thought in these terms: that I had a people. But Monsignor Romero, who was assassinated just one week later, believed that we are all connected, that we are all a people, and today I am beginning to understand what he meant. Today, I recall the words he spoke very early in my time there. In 1978, he said: “The church wants to rouse men and women to the true meaning of being a people. What is a people? A people is a community of persons where all cooperate for the common good.” And he said this: “A society’s … reason for being is not the security of the state but the human person.”… And this: “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.”

    Monsignor Oscar Romero and Father Ellacuria taught that each moment of our life shapes the whole of our life, and that we are not always responsible for what befalls us but we are certainly responsible for our response, and in this lies responsibility, our capacity to meet the moment beautifully, and in a manner that honors our deepest aspirations for what it means to be a human being. I am a poet, and you have asked me to address you in your hour of accomplishment and joy. But this is a difficult time, so I asked my friend, Dr. Howard Freed, an emergency room physician, who worked among the poorest of the poor in our nation’s capital for advice about what to say. “Tell them this,” he said, “that acts of kindness to strangers are helpful and important. That you must balance your joy, which is necessary to your spirit, with giving to others, which will allow you to feel better – that finding things you are good at and spending most of your time doing them will give you pleasure, but doing what is right will give you peace.” And to his advice I would add that of the great American poet Walt Whitman: This is what you shall do: “Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone 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 toward 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 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.”

    You are coming of age in a time of war, and of great environmental and political peril. Do not accept less than exemplary leadership. Remember that you are not consumers. You are citizens of a republic. Remember that we are a people of conscience, infinitely obligated to each other across time and space, and that our cause is not just unless our cause is justice. Remember that our civil liberties and civil rights are your rightful inheritance, and are commended to your guardianship. For centuries into the future, men and women will feel gratitude for your protection of these principles. As I address you today, the greatest man-made environmental disaster in our country’s history is befalling the Gulf Coast and its fragile wetlands, the Gulf of Mexico’s waters and fisheries, the resilient and fragile ocean waters upon which all life depends. We bear witness to this catastrophe in the midst of wars abroad and economic hardship at home. You inherit an enormous task, Class of 2010, and your challenges in the new century are very grave. Your elders place great hope and faith in you, but it is to your God and your descendents that you must answer, and to all who share your moment in human history, for it is a moment upon which the fate of humanity depends. As citizens and as members of the party of humanity, you have the potential to be noble of spirit. You might become the most important generation that has ever lived, given the challenges you have been asked to accept. Live accordingly. Go forth and set the world on fire with courage and confidence, but don’t forget your alma mater, and the teachers who have accompanied you during a brief period of years, and who slipped a few things into that rucksack themselves for you to open in the future when you may need them most. They will miss you, but they are very proud of you today. May your lives and your work be blessed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Avatar: $380 million for simulating munitions (and another planet), and 50 cents on the story

Thanks to Don Share for, well, sharing this nugget by Allan Gurganus, from "Kelly A. Smith Interviews Allan Gurganus," for the Spring 2010 Iowa Writers’ Workshop Alumni Newsletter:

In art and life, I am a collector of beautiful human features and expressive hands. We just saw Avatar, the trite new technological wonder-movie. It’s a metaphor for post-Bush America. They spent $380 million on special effects meant to simulate munitions, and 50 cents on the story! Only a lifelong narrative artist can see the impoverishment and delusion. Trusting the eloquence of hands and faces could’ve saved many millions in research and development, it might have made us care about at least one figure in this whole bogus video game. What made the Greeks laugh and cry make us laugh and cry. The prodigal son returns and his old forgiving father sees him from afar and, his age ignored, runs on foot to meet him, to press a hand alongside the young sinner’s face. There, that’s seventy-five cents worth of story right there! Such human simplicity is more reverberant and important than ever now. People are hiding from each other in order to experience pleasure

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Billy Collins, Get Ready for Your Close-up

Billy Collins, you're in for a world of hurt. Poet CA Conrad is after you for that idiotic poem you wrote, "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes," which is universally despised by anyone with gray matter north of their neck. It's not that I don't appreciate your work; some of your poems move from wry comedy and edge into serious poignancy. But there is also a hostility beneath the comic (maybe that's always true of comedy). So here's your poem, Mr. Collins, and then after is Conrad's take on it.

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

And, the riposte by Conrad:
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 22:08:17 -0400
From: CA Conrad
Subject: lesbians don't want... be fucked by Billy Collins!


A dear friend of mine who knows how much I LOVE the poetry of Emily Dickinson called me today to tell me that Terry Gross was interviewing someone about Dickinson's poems. So I tuned into NPR and instantly cringed at the voice of Billy Collins (the Phil Collins of poetry!)!

What ANGERED me most was when they were discussing her possible sexual preference(s). And he said, HE ACTUALLY SAID, that whether she was a lesbian or not, HE was going to put to rest this argument with HIS poem. Which he then read. It's called UNDRESSING EMILY DICKINSON, and it's about wanting to FUCK HER, and how she sighs and makes little sounds in between his removing various items of clothing from her body.

Whether she was a lesbian or not, it's pretty clear to me that THAT very issue turned him on enough to write his sexual fantasy of putting his poet laureate prick inside her!


Not only that, if you listen to this show PLEASE NOTE how he makes such a big deal about how irrelevant her biography is. BUT THEN GOES AHEAD AND SHOWS HOW IMPORTANT HER BIOGRAPHY ACTUALLY IS TO HIM THAT HE WANTS TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT (SO TO SPEAK!)!

Has this dude NEVER heard of Susan Howe's MY EMILY DICKINSON by the way? Because his excessively reductive view of her poems makes me think he needs to read Howe.

When I win the lottery I'm buying Susan Howe's MY EMILY DICKINSON for every single library in the world! And if they REFUSE TO TAKE IT, I'll just put in on the shelf MYSELF!

May Emily Dickinson's ghost exact REVENGE on Billy Collins! Dear Emily, I'm writing a poem called UNDRESSING BILLY COLLINS, to see how he likes gay sex! I'll let you know how it goes!



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"See Them Coming" by Sholeh Wolpe

See Them Coming

Here come the octopi of war
tentacles wielding guns, missiles
holy books and colorful flags.

Don't fill your pens with their ink.
Write with your fingernails, scratch
light upon these darkened days.

-Sholeh Wolpé

From The Scar Saloon (Red Hen Press 2004). Used by permission.

Sholeh Wolpé is the author of Rooftops of Tehran, The Scar Saloon,and Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad for which she was awarded the Lois Roth Translation Prize in 2010. Sholeh is the associate editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East edited by Reza Aslan (Norton), the guest editor of Atlanta Review (2010 Iran issue)and the poetry editor of the Levantine Review, an online journal about the Middle East. Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and have been translated into several languages. Sholeh was born in Iran and presently lives in Los Angeles.

Wolpé appeared on the panel We Are All Iran: a Group Reading by Iranian-American Poets during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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!

Split This Rock

Imagination Conference at Cleveland State University: Free Readings

Imagination Workshop & Conference Reading Schedule
Readings are FREE and open to the public

Tuesday, July 13
Main Classroom 134
6:30 – 8:00, Main Classroom 1st Floor Auditorium
Reading by Sam Lipsyte and Olena Kalytiak Davis
8:00 – 10:00 Opening Reception & Bar-b-q

Wednesday, July 14
Main Classroom 134
6:30 – 8:00, Main Classroom 1st Floor Auditorium
Reading by Salvatore Scibona and Elizabeth Kadetsky

Thursday, July 15
Main Classroom 134
5:30 – 7:00, Main Classroom 1st Floor Auditorium
Reading by Aaron Burch, Mary Biddinger & Michael Dumanis

Friday, July 16
6:30 – 8:00, Main Classroom 1st Floor Auditorium
Reading by Emily Mitchell and Sandra Beasley

Saturday, July 17
6:30 – 8:00, Main Classroom 1st Floor Auditorium

Closing Reading by ZZ Packer and Jess Walter

8:00 – 10:00 Closing reception

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kazim Ali's "Marble Hill"

From my favorite book by poet Kazim Ali

"Marble Hill" Kazim Ali, from BRIGHT FELON

Paradise lies beneath the feet of your mother. A verse I've heard recited so frequently I do not know if it is scripture or hadith.

Hadith, meaning traditions of the prophet, are always accompanied by a careful oral lineage of who said what to whom, and who heard who say they heard what. Usually back to one of the prophet's wives who heard the prophet say it.

The veil also between what you want to see and cannot see, what you wish to have heard but did not hear.

In butoh the dancers are rendered in white smoke, ghosts traversing the stage-as-womb, moving so slowly you do not even know they are there.

If paradise lies beneath the feet of my mother then how will I find my way inside unless she admits me.

Now I look at each face, each body, as it moves around the subway platform, down the stairs and around the platform, onto trains, off of them.

After my aunt Chand-mumani's death I thought of them each as flames, in each the body is combusting, burning up the fuel of the soul.

Michelle after giving birth walked around the city imagining everyone glistening, bordered in amniotic grit.

But is it really like Fanny writes, the body only a car the soul is driving.

Or something of us sunk into the matter of the body, part of us actually flesh, inseparable from it and upon death, truly dispersed, smoke.

The body of the prophet's wife always between us. Who said what.

In which case there really is something to grieve at death: that the soul is wind, not immortal.

A middle-aged woman, in the seat in front of me on the train, wearing a green puffy winter jacket. Her hair, though pulled back, frizzy and unkempt.

It's the unkempt I feel tenderness towards.

Have always felt about myself a messiness, an awkwardness, an ugliness.

As a child, such an envy of birds, of graceful slopes, of muscular boys.

In the train rushing above ground at 125th Street. Thinking about stumbling.

House by house, walking down this street or the other one. Going into the library, going into the school.

Where every middle-aged woman is my mother.

Waiting to be trusted with the truth.

I have nearly as much silver in my hair as she does.

Any pronoun here can be misread. He can mean you can mean I.

An odd list of things I want to do in the next five years: study butoh. Write an autobiography. Go back to Paris. Get lost somewhere I haven't been.

Also begin to say it.

Marco and I moved to Marble Hill in the summer of 2006.

Let me tell you a story about a city that floats onto the ocean. Opposite of Atlantis which fell into the sea or Cascadia which threatens to rise back out of it.

Marble Hill, a real hill, perched at the northernmost tip of Manhattan Island, a promontory out into the conjunction of the Hudson River and Spuyten Duyvil Creek.

The wind is an instrument, its own section of the sky orchestra.

Today I read of a Turkish mullah who is canceling 800 different hadith regarding treatment of women found now or believed at least to be untrue.

Untrue is it.

Untrue the laws that were graven in fire or graven in stone.

Says the Quran, "This is the Book. In it there is no doubt."

All for a belief that a human animal is a wicked one and requires a law.

Which requires if not actual violence then at least the threat of it.

At least fury.

Here in Marble Hill you are where you aren't.

Orchestral the river that curves and curves north of the island.

Ships bound for the upper east side from Albany have a harder and harder time negotiating the torturous and twisting Spuyten Duyvil.

So a canal is blasted through and what was once the northern tip of Manhattan became an island.

Walking across one of the bridges in Paris I came to a place called Les Mauvaises Garçons. Being afraid to enter I crossed the street to another tavern.

I stayed for three hours.

Radiant with traffic, the streets do not remember the gone.

The pillar at the Place de Bastille does not put back brick or bar.

Ten miles out of Chartres nothing but grain across and gray above a dark raven emerges screaming from the fields.

These thoughts are nothing, following one after the other.

Somali lesbians scheduled for their execution. Two boys in Iran convicted of drunken and lewd behavior and hanged for it. Boys. 16 and 18. There was video footage of the actual hanging on the internet.

I watched it myself.

"You wear your fingers down copying sacred texts," sang Lalla, "but still the rage inside you has no way to leave."

The Arabic line "This is the Book. In it there is no doubt" can also be read as "This is, no doubt, the Book . . . "

Dear mother, there is a folder of my loose poems lost somewhere during the summer of 2006 when I traveled between Pennsylvania, New York City, Virginia, Maine, and your house in Buffalo. There was a letter inside the folder to you.

Though I've looked and looked and failed to find it, I am sure it is still in the house in Buffalo somewhere. An envelope with a folder inside. Inside the folder loose poems. Tucked into poems, there was a letter.

The veil between what you want to see and what you cannot see.

Emily Dickinson sent her first letter to Thomas Higginson unsigned. She included with the unsigned letter a smaller sealed envelope in which there was a calling card upon which she had written her name.

When Colin Powell spoke at the UN about the invasion of Iraq, workers were asked to hang a black drape over Picasso's Guernica.

Which would have otherwise been in the background, surrounding him, as he spoke.

There is a body and a boy between you and utterance, the boy you were who could never speak.

Bright red bracelet of time.

"Fury," is how Galway Kinnell explained Dickinson's intent in writing her poems.

Poetry and fury in the time of war. Civil War for her.

What is my war? Not the one you think.

I won't say.

Constant state, sure as the white noise on the television after the station has gone off the air.

But who goes off the air any more.

And whose air.

Come to Marble Hill then.

Each night sleep is pierced by someone outside gunning their car engine over and over again before driving off.

A car alarm or two.

There is a streetlight outside the window that shines into the bedroom, bright as the moon but more orange.

Orange like the saffron scarf I wore to Tokudo.—"leaving home." When Ansho became a monk and took a new name.

The day I sat down next to a young man with a sweet smile. A gardener. Name of Marco.

The train runs the next block over. We are on the second floor so hear it if we really pay attention.

By now its rumble on the tracks, the chiming when the doors are about to close, are on the order of background noise.

I have not yet learned how to sleep through the night.

Marble Hill was an island for twenty years before the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, still running, underground below 228th Street, was filled in and joined to the mainland.

The city itself, my life, that first butoh performance I saw.

A man with such slow and intense movements, so internal.

You hardly knew he had moved at all and suddenly he was all the way across the stage, contorted, holding a glass bowl aloft in which a fish swam.

None of which you had even noticed was on the stage.

As I write this, a car alarm. The train.

Then silence.

From Bright Felon by Kazim Ali. Copyright © 2010 by Kazim Ali. Used by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Panel Discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse

Panel Discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
July 15 is last of three programs at Shaker Hts. Library

Seeking Middlle East Peace, a three-part series, concludes Thursday, July 15th at Shaker Heights Public Library, 6500 Van Aken Boulevard, Shaker Heights, OH 44120 (entrance on Lee Road, between Van Aken and Chagrin). Sponsored by Cleveland Peace Action Education Fund - details

"The Israeli-Palestinian Impasse: What is the US Role?" - Thursday, July 15, from 7pm - 9pm - Moderated Panel Discussion from various viewpoints about the U.S. role in seeking a just and viable solution. Panelists include:

Marty Plax, faculty, Cleveland State University
Nahida Gordon, faculty, Case Western Reserve University
Michael Greenberg, Israeli-American, CWRU
Issam Zaim, Council on American-Islamic Relations
with Moderator Khalid Samad, Director, Peace in the Hood

Spread the word - download event flyer. Program is free and open to the public. Refreshments served.

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