Friday, August 31, 2012

Solmaz Sharif's "Mess Hall"/Split This Rock Poem of the Week

Split This Rock 
Poem of the Week - 
Solmaz Sharif                                                                   
Solmaz SharifPhoto by: Arash Saedinia  



Mess Hall   

Your knives tip down
in the dish rack
of the replica plantation home,
you wash hands
with soaps pressed into seahorses
and scallop shells white
to match your guest towels,
and, like an escargot fork,
you have found the dimensions
small enough to break
a man--
a wet rag,
a bullet on the back of the cup
the front
like a bishop or an armless knight
of the Ku Klux Klan
the silhouette
through your nighttime window
a quartet
plays a song you admire,
outside a ring of concertina wire
circles around a small collapse.
America, ignore the window and look at your lap:
even your dinner napkins are on fire.

-Solmaz Sharif    

Used by permission.

Previously appeared in conjunction with Craft and Folk Art Museum's "Ehren Tool: Production or Destruction" exhibit.   

Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif's first published poem, included in A World Between (George Braziller), was written at the age of 13. Since then, her work has appeared in jubilatGulf CoastBoston ReviewDIAGRAM, and others. Between 2002-2006, Sharif studied and taught with June Jordan's Poetry for the People. She is a winner of the "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize, a former Poetry Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and will be a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University from 2012-2014.
 
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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, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Zein El-Amine's "How to write a poem"

Split This Rock 
Poem of the Week - 
Zein El-Amine                                                                 
Zein El-Amine 
How to write a poem, according to Souha Bechara
      

Sit in their circle.
Don't let your eyes linger
on any object in the room.
Extract yourself
from your body. Watch
the man with the hairy hands
describe the rape of your body
to the body. Watch him
as he begins to beat the body.
Focus on the arc
of your liberated lower molar
and make it everything:
try to guess where
it landed, crawl to it,
find it, save it for later.
Think about putting it back
in one day. Ignore
the wheeling of the cart.
Ignore the stripped cable
dangling above you.
Find the tooth.
Make solitary confinement
your longed-for-solitude.
Climb the walls:
Press your palms on one
wall, fingers pointed
to the ceiling. Press
your feet against the other
wall. Build the pressure,
step up with one foot
and up with one hand.
Repeat until your back
is to the ceiling. Now
survey the room. Do this
once at mid-morning
and once at mid-afternoon.
Repeat daily. Do this
for a decade.
Make that crack
under your door
your world: Lie down
and face the door. Look
past the roaches,
the fleas, and the lice,
into the compressed light;
wait for it to be
interrupted. Study the soles
of your captors.
Match the voices
with the soles
match the soles
with the names.
Catalog them:
the pigeon-toed,
the limping soles,
the canvas ones,
the wooden ones.
Delight at new soles.
Now find a piece of graphite.
Separate your toilet paper
into plies. Stretch
your scroll on the floor.
Prostrate yourself.
Grab the graphite
between thumb
and forefinger.
It will feel crippling
at first, your words
will be undecipherable,
but you will
eventually write
your tiny words
with smooth curves.
Set your intentions.
Don't think of meanings,
think of the time
it will take to write
your microscopic epic.
After all, this is about time
not about metaphors
or similes or such.
It's about rhyme
and meter.
So limit hope to the word,
then extend it to the line,
then to the stanza,
then reach out for the winding night.
Now write your first faint line.


-Zein El-Amine  

Used by permission.


Zein El-Amine was born and raised in Lebanon. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland where he teaches Global Literature and Social Change and Arabic. His poems have been published by Wild River ReviewFolio,Foreign Policy in FocusBeltway QuarterlyDC Poets Against the War AnthologyPenumbraGYST and Joybringer. His short stories have been published by Boundoff and Uno Masmagazines. Zein lives in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC and is a member of the Ella Jo Baker Housing Cooperative.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of theWeek widely. We just ask you to include all of theinformation 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.    
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, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Susan Briante's Utopia Minus

Utopia Minus is a haunting and haunted collection of post-industrial lyrics, what landscape painting would look like in the early 20th century, whereabout East Dallas.  And more than that: it's what happens to the self in such places, in this time, where all buildings are ruins in reverse, as Robert Smithson proposes.  In this sense, it feels very much like a post-9/11 book, where the apocalypse is not just the destruction of the Twin Towers, but the economic collapse as a result of rampant greed, unhinged capitalism, market meltdown.  Imperial hangover.


But somehow, the book offers a kind of wry hope--that beauty exists, that love is possible, that somehow we map ourselves a home. 
To whet your appetite for the book, read here.  And then get it.  Here's "Nail Guns in the Morning" :

Nail Guns in the Morning



Nail guns in the morning from the street behind my house,
Outside: tin roof, cement tabletops, “vast maw of modernity” (Sontag),
the UPS man, someone has painted all of my windows shut.

The study of trauma comes shortly after the steam engine,
an affliction known as “railway spine,” characterized by headaches, fatigue,
difficulty in breathing, reduction of sexual potency, stammering, cold sweats.

Report from Charles Dickens, June 1865, after train wreck:
.............Wakes up in sudden alarm,
..............Dreams much.

Storms this afternoon in Dallas
in the parking lot of the Target/Best Buy/Payless Shopping Center,
big chalices of rain, contusioned sky over the east, big yellow bus moving north
toward the dark end of—what?—

this weather, this fiscal year, this end of empire during which I am reading
the circulars stuck in my screen door, ice waiting
in the highest breath of atmosphere.
It will get to us.

I am patient on the living room couch,
let water drain from the kitchen sink.
Last night over dirty dishes, I told Farid
I would never write a poem that just said: Stop the War.

So frequently, I want a witness. Sit with me,
C. Dickens, let me tell you how bad
the food is on Amtrak, how a Pullman position
was a plum job for freedman, how stevedores once owned the city
hall, how Indians shot at us through the windows of the smoking car.

Stop the war, stop the war, stop the war, stop the war, stop the war.


And another poem, "Other Denver Economies":

Monday, August 20, 2012

Protestors "Drummed" out of Drone Warfare Convention

Isn't it time we had a national conversation about the use of drones in warfare?  Medea Benjamin and Father Louis Vitale are trying to do their part to start that debate.  Vitale recently appeared on Democracy Now.

Check out the activities of peace activists around the issue of drone warfare:

"...To many, this is part of the price paid to defeat a treacherous enemy and maintain our national security. To Vitale, Benjamin and their colleagues, it's too great a price. And then he asks, "What is the impact on the people, what is the impact on our own people?"
The priest believes the incidents of predator operators suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will be epidemic. His own experiences are anecdotal, he admits, but his conversations with British and U.S. military drone operators have been deeply troubling. Those onboard cameras not only spot suspected enemy targets, he notes, but they also reveal the damage wrought in unprecedented detail.
One Air Force veteran he spoke with talked of going from the "soccer part of his day (with his schoolchildren) to the killing part of his day," Vitale recalls. "He said the civilian casualties really bother him. 'When that happens, I don't sleep,' he said. You're bombing people, and it turns out to be civilians.
"What is the impact on our people?"
Vitale's cause may be spiritual, but to his critics, every step he takes is political. To be a devout practitioner of nonviolence is to ask questions about America's role on the world stage."


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Cathy Linh Che"

Split This Rock 
Poem of the Week - 
Cathy Linh Che                                                                
Cathy Linh Che  
          
   
Split      
 
I see my mother at thirteen
in a village so small,
it's never given a name.

Monsoon season drying up--
steam lifting in full-bodied waves.
She chops corn for the hogs,

her hair dipping to the small of her back
as if dipped in black
and polished to a shine.

She wears a side-part
that splits her hair
into two uneven planes.

They come to watch her,
Americans, Marines, just boys,
eighteen or nineteen.

With scissor-fingers,
they snip the air,
repeat cut,

point at their helmets
and then at her hair.
All they want is a small lock.

What does she say
to her mother
to make her so afraid?

Days later
she will be sent away
to the city for safekeeping.

She will return home
only once to be given away
to my father.

Her hair
was dark, washed,
and uncut.
 
-Cathy Linh Che  

Used by permission.


Cathy Linh Che is a Vietnamese American poet from Los Angeles, CA. Her first book of poems, winner the 2012 Kundiman Poetry Prize, is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2014. She has received fellowships from Poets & Writers, The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, Hedgebrook, and Poets House. She is also co-editing an anthology of poetry and prose from the children of the Vietnam War called Inheriting the War.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of theWeek widely. We just ask you to include all of theinformation 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.    
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, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

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

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Paul Chappell's "Peaceful Revolution"

Earlier this summer, I got the chance to read Paul K. Chappell's Peaceful Revolution. It's well worth the read, even if much of his research is familiar to those who have read Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman's study On Killing (which he quotes here) and know many of the arguments about what war does to the human brain. "If human beings were naturally violent, why would every army in history have to expend so much effort in order to train people how to kill?" We need more Paul Chappells in the world.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Veterans Exposed to Asbestos Between the 1930s and 1980s Are At-Risk for Mesothelioma Development: by Doug Karr

Veterans Exposed to Asbestos Between the 1930s and 1980s Are At-Risk for Mesothelioma Development: a guest essay by Doug Karr for "Behind the Lines" blog

Veterans account for 30 percent of all mesothelioma patients. Navy veterans have the highest risk of asbestos exposure. The exposure is typically a result of working on the shipyards from the 1930s to the 1970s. These marine vessels were filled with asbestos-based products in an effort to reduce the risk of fire. The hazard of asbestos was discussed by the Surgeon General of the Navy in the late 1930s, but many of the warnings were ignored because the benefits of using the material were immense.

In the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to regulate and reduce the use of asbestos. This momentous change in policy marked the beginning of public responsibility regarding asbestos and its role in the development of mesothelioma cancer.

What is Pleural Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma cancer is assigned a name based upon the area of the body afflicted by the cancer. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs and is one of the more common types of mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma has also been known to affect the heart and the stomach. Pleural mesothelioma occurs when asbestos is inhaled and becomes lodged in the patient’s lungs. The asbestos may lie dormant for 10 to 50 years before mesothelioma develops. It is often difficult to determine the date of exposure because the dormancy period is so long.

What is the Most Common Way a Person is Exposed to Mesothelioma?

When examining the medical records of most veterans, studies show that exposure occurred mostly in people who worked in engine rooms and storage rooms. Asbestos was used in cables, gaskets and valves. The deadly mineral was also commonly used in navigational rooms and mess halls.

All branches of the military used asbestos. Veterans who served between World War II and the Vietnam War were at the greatest risk of exposure to asbestos. Since the machinery using asbestos was not replaced until several years after the Vietnam War, the risk of exposure extended several years beyond wartime.

According to the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, other vulnerable populations include:

. Navy veterans who served on ships with keels made before 1983
. Any Navy personnel who served and worked on below deck on a ship before the 1990s
. Navy veterans who served in shipyards any time between the 1930s and the 1990s
. Any Navy personnel in charge of removing asbestos in engine rooms or ask to rewrap pipes with asbestos
. Pipe fitters, boiler operators and welders who were tasked with renovation and demolition may have worked with asbestos paste to re-wrap pipes
. Military personnel who worked in Brooklyn Navy Yard, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Hunters Point Long Beach Naval Shipyard and Norfolk Navy Shipyard and were exposed to exposed to asbestos through power plants, auto production facilities, steel mills, refineries and construction sites

Asbestos Exposed Veterans Should Seek Help.

Veterans exposed to asbestos during wartime and afterwards should seek help. Veterans exposed from 1930s to 1980s are at-risk of developing mesothelioma now. Resources are available to help people exposed to asbestos.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Zohra Saed's "Kandahar"

Split This Rock 
Poem of the Week - 
Zohra Saed                                                             
Zohra Saed          
   
Kandahar       
 


Behave or the sleeping Alexander will reclaim your lungs.


Kandahar -
............Was once a cube of sugar
Refusing to dissolve in the sea.
It became a city from sheer stubbornness.


Alexander naively said,
"This is my land!"

causing the earth to giggle and birth him a wife
Rukhshana. (Roxanna if you prefer).
This wife refused to dissolve in his sea.

We know how the bright sun found him
The next day - snuffed by an ornate embroidered pillow -
The pillow and the three drops of Alexandrian blood
Have been preserved by the mountains.

Kandahar could never be Alexandria after that delicious.....murder.
 


-Zohra Saed       

Used by permission.
Originally published in notebook #105 from documenta(13)   
  
Zohra Saed is the co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature(University of Arkansas Press). Her poetry has appeared in:Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality Ed. Sarah Hussein (Seal Press); Speaking for Herself: Asian Women's Writings Ed. Sukrita Paul Kumar and Savita Singh (Penguin India); Seven Leaves One Autumn Ed. Sukrita Paul Kumar and Savita Singh (Rajkamal Prakashan Publishing: New Delhi, India); and most recentlySahar Muradi & Zohra Saed: Misspelled Cities (Notebook #105, documenta 13).  

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of theWeek widely. We just ask you to include all of theinformation 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.    
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, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

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

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tom Healey: Protest as Conversation, Dissent as Dialogue

from Tom Healey's article, "What Will We Say to Each Other?"

True dissent doesn't lie in quotes or signs. It's not what true protest or where change happens.


Protest is a conversation. It's been a strange, often frustrating, sometimes easy to mock, but essential ethos of American protest movements like #OWS and the Tea Party. And if you think about it, true conversation is democracy. All sides get to speak. It continues to be such a radical idea.

And true conversation, the one that brings unheard voices to the table, emerges not from agreement, but from dissonance -- when we don't agree, when we've talked but haven't listened, when we've stood by and haven't stood up.

The poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox said that to stand by when we should protest is "to sin by silence."

A few months ago, the great American poet Adrienne Rich died. There is so much I'd like to say about her, but I think it's best to close with a few of her words instead. Adrienne Rich was a brilliant, fearless writer -- a feminist, an activist, someone who truly spoke truth to power.

In keeping with Wheeler Wilcox's argument that we sin by silence, Rich wrote, "Yes, lying is done with words, but also with silence ... Telling the truth creates the possibility for more truth to be told around you."

 




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dial-a-Poem at MOMA

What a whimsical little project, Dial-a-Poem.  

For you snobs living in New York, you can see and hear this directly at MOMA.

Split This Rock poetry contest- 2012



Announcing the 6th Annual 
Split This Rock  
Poetry Contest  

Judged by: Mark Doty  
 Mark Doty

Benefits Split This Rock Poetry Festival
March 27-30, 2014
$1,000 Awarded for poems of provocation and witness
   

Prizes: First place $500; 2nd and 3rd place, $250 each.

Winning poems will be published on www.SplitThisRock.org, winners will receive free festival registration, and the 1st-place winner will be invited to read winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2014.

Deadline: November 1, 2012
Reading Fee: $20, which supports Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2014. 

Details: Submissions should be in the spirit of Split This Rock: socially engaged poems, poems that reach beyond the self to connect with the larger community or world; poems of provocation and witness. This theme can be interpreted broadly and may include but is not limited to work addressing politics, economics, government, war, leadership; issues of identity (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, body image, immigration, heritage, etc.); community, civic engagement, education, activism; and poems about history, Americana, cultural icons.

Split This Rock subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Read it online here.

Submission guidelines:
Submit up to 3 unpublished poems, no more than 6 pages total, in any style, in the spirit of Split This Rock (see above). 


Simultaneous submissions OK, but please notify us immediately if the poem is accepted elsewhere.



For more information:   
Judge's Bio

Mark Doty's Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. He is the author of eight books of poems and four volumes of nonfiction prose including Dog Years, which was a New York Times bestseller in 2007.

Doty's poems have appeared in many magazines includingThe Atlantic Monthly, The London Review of Books,PloughsharesPoetry, and The New Yorker. Widely anthologized, his poems appear in The Norton Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry and many other collections.  

Doty's work has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, two Lambda Literary Awards, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction and the Witter Byner Prize. He is the only American poet to have received the T.S. Eliot Prize in the U.K., and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill and Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2011 Doty was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 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
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202-787-5210 info@splitthisrock.org