Monday, October 22, 2012

"Commitment Otra Vez" by Carmen Calatayud

Poem of the Week -  
Carmen Calatayud     
Carmen Calatayud   
Commitment Otra Vez      

...........for R.V.       

Some generations ago,
you were a Zapatista
inside your great-grandmother's
womb, black eye sockets of
revolution, carrying roses
with the pink blown out,
dando gritos in earshot
of the Americas.

But now your doubt
is strewn across the room
like petals from dead maravillas,
even in this space you rent
where spiritual warriors
pray for your country
and you can finally sleep
through the night.

Listen, amigo de los desamparados,
this is your time, again,
beyond gut-level fear
and black and white film:
The explosions just keep coming,
and you are chewing on history,
and never let it be said
that all you could do was cry.

  -Carmen Calatayud 

Used by permission.
From In the Company of Spirits (Press 53, 2012)  

Carmen Calatayud's first poetry collection, In the Company of Spirits, was published in October 2012 by Press 53. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Beltway Poetry QuarterlyBorderlands: Texas Poetry ReviewCutthroat: A Journal of the ArtsGargoylePALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art, and the anthology DC Poets Against the War. She is a Larry Neal Poetry Award winner, a runner-up for the Walt Whitman Award and recipient of a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellowship. Born to a Spanish father and Irish mother in the U.S., Calatayud works and writes in Washington, DC.  

Carmen will launch In the Company of Spirits as part of Split This Rock's Sunday Kind of Love Reading series this Sunday October 21, 5-7pm at Busboys and Poets (14th & V location). Details here. Reading with her is poet and local literary favorite, Fred Joiner. Hope to see you there! 
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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  

Split This Rock began the Poem of the Week program in October 2009 as a way of publicizing the poets who were to be featured in the 2010 festival. We have since continued the series by featuring the work of participants of our festivals.

We are pleased to open the call up to any poet writing in the socially engaged vein -- festival participant or not.   

Visit our blog for specifics and submission guidelines. 
We look forward to reading your work!
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Friday, October 19, 2012

"The Burning of the Olive Trees" by Alan Gilbert

This is from Alan Gilbert:
The Burning of the Olive Trees

On our way to pick olives with Iyad, a leader of the nonviolent popular resistance movement in Budrus, we walk past the graveyard. One is the grave of a 17 year old killed in a first demonstration against the Wall and the seizing of the town’s land and olive trees. His marker is the same as everyone else’s except for the Arab word shadeed (martyr) and an indication in paint of the Palestinian colors.

Hadra is the name of an olive tree. It is 1,500 years old. When you ask for Hadra in the village, people will direct you to the olive tree, not to the old woman of that name.

Another olive tree in the North of Palestine is 5,000 years old.

Olive trees, they say, by the old houses are those where Jesus played as a boy.

Olive trees, in the Quran are holy. God will damn you twenty times if you cut down an olive tree.

If you plant an olive tree on your own property and then uproot it, God will damn you twenty times.

Olive trees are holy in the Torah. The Rabbis for Human Rights joined the demonstrations in Budrus. In the Israeli courts, they have also protested the burning of olive trees.

There were 300 olive trees outside the Wall in Budrus. The villagers asked to pick the olives. The IDF (The Israel “Defense” Forces) said: “no problem.”

The Occupation gives an old woman or an old man one day to pick the olives. And no one is allowed to care for the trees.

Hadra has beautiful silvery leaves. She grows around stones and rocks. She has holes (they say with heatbreak over the death of Mohammed).

The fig says: I weep leaves down to mourn the prophet. You do nothing.

The olive replies: I have holes in my heart.

Arabs say: if you have an olive tree and flour, you can make a life for a family.

(My family is allergic to butter and, since living in Spain for a year in 1999-2000, relies on olive oil).

What does it mean that the olive trees are burned?

Going to harvest your olives is an act of resistance.

From their fancy houses, settlers often shoot at people as they harvest their own olives. The settlers seek to take the life and breath of the Palestinians while the IDF protects them. But they call Palestinians “terrorists.”

Joseph, a young rabbi from Jewish Voices for Peace from Boston, helped Palestinian farmers in a harvest. A settler shot at him, he says; perhaps he intended to miss, to scare them that time.

But one knows who has guns here, who has walls, whom to be frightened of.

Joseph broke then with the state of Israel.

The Wall separates olive trees from the farmers. Settlers destroy olive trees. So does the Israeli army. One Palestinian says: What has the olive tree, praying to heaven, done? What has she done to be burned?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fady Joudah and Ghassan Zaqtan on tour

The Tour Lives! After an aborted reading tour, due to visa difficulties, Ghassan Zaqtan and Fady Joudah will be reading throughout the country this coming fall. Here's the skinny from the Yale Press blog, where Zaqtan's book appears.
Leading Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan and fellow award-winning poet and translator Fady Joudah are scheduled to visit 15 U.S. venues during October in support of Joudah’s critically acclaimed translation of Zaqtan’s work Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems. Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems was published earlier this year as a volume in Yale University Press’s Margellos World Republic of Letters series – a series that aims to transcend the boundaries of language by making literary works from around the globe available in English. With the poems in this volume, Zaqtan illuminates what Arabic poetry in general and Palestinian poetry in particular is capable of.
Departing from the lush aesthetics of such celebrated predecessors as Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis, Zaqtan’s daily, delicate narrative, whirling catalogues, and at times austere aesthetics represent a new trajectory, a significant leap for young Arabic poets today. Below is the author/translator tour schedule for this fall. Check back here or the Margellos WRL Facebook page for more updates in October!
Monday, October 1, 2012 Amherst Books 8 Main Street, Amherst, MA 8:00 PM Poetry Reading & Book Signing Hosted by the Creative Writing Center at Amherst College
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 Harvard University Rethinking Translation Seminar Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard, Barker 133 6:00 PM Reading and Discussion
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 Boston University The BU Castle, 225 Bay State Road, Boston MA 12-2 PM Conversation & Poetry Reading Lunch will be served before and during the talk
Thursday, October 4, 2012 Brandeis University Mandel Center for Humanities, Room 303 (The Reading Room) Waltham, MA 5:00 PM Poetry Reading & Book Signing
Monday, October 8, 2012 Scripps College Hampton Room, Malott Commons, Scripps College, Claremont, CA 7:15 PM Poetry Reading & Book Signing
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 University of Texas at Austin 12 -1 PM Class visit to Introduction to Creative Writing, CBA 4.124
7 PM Poetry reading (with Fady Joudah), UTC 3.124, 
8:30 PM Reception
Monday, October 15, 2012 Yale University Whitney Humanities Center, Room 208 New Haven, CT 5:00 PM Poetry Reading
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 New York State Writers Institute • SUNY Albany 4:15 PM Informal Q&A with students 8:00 PM Poetry Reading
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Asian American Writers Workshop NY 110-112 West 27th St, NYC 7:00 PM Translation Night at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Headliners: Fady Joudah and Ghassan Zaqtan; other participants: Jeffrey Yang, Sinan Antoon, and Susan Bernofsky
Thursday, October 18, 2012 New York University The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies (The Richard Ettinghausen Library at the Hagop Kevorkian Center) 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM, 50 Washington Square South at 255 Sullivan St
Thursday, October 18, 2012 Columbia University 8:00 PM, Room 509, Knox Hall 606 W 122nd Street, New York
Friday, October 19, 2012 Georgetown University Lannan Center Conference Room / New North 408 Noon to 2:00 PM
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 Westmont College Winter Hall 210, Campus of Westmont College, Santa Barbara 4:00 PM Poetry Reading & Book Signing
Thursday, October 25, 2012 University of California Los Angeles Exact Location TBD, Campus of UCLA, Los Angeles 3:00 PM Poetry Reading
Monday, October 29, 2012 Rice University/University of Houston UH / Rice University Visiting Writers Series Honors Commons 5:30 PM Poetry Reading