asakiyume: (bluebird)
We'd looked at "quiet" poetry earlier--the sort you read to yourself in books--and so I brought in some recordings of poetry being performed for my students to react to and think about.

I played them Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner's "Tell Them," and felt a warm glow as they reacted visibly to her lines about Styrofoam cups and dusty rubber slippers, and my favorite line, about the children flinging like rubber bands across the street. And then when I asked them which lines stuck with them, they had so many others they loved too--the curling letters, "toasted dark brown as the carved ribs of a tree stump," "the breath of God," "papaya golden sunsets" ... and "the ocean level with the land" and "we see what is in our own back yard."

They heard what her poem said.

I played them Elizabeth Acevedo performing "Night Before First Day of School, the opening poem to her novel-in-poems, The Poet X (which I'm reading--except I lent it out to one of the students), and they loved "I feel too small for all that is inside me."

I played them Laurie Anderson's "From the Air," and several students fell in love with it. What's it about, I asked, and some talked about a plane and a crash, but several said, "It's about more than that. It's about living your life--'there is no pilot': you're the pilot. But you're not alone."

I played them Billy Collins reading "Monday," and they got his teasing affection for poetry and poets.

--I should have asked them if they noticed the boys angling across the street... in context, an echo of Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner's poem.

And then we turned to some Tupac Shakur raps. The students range in age from 22 to 55, mainly White, but everyone knew those raps. They recited right along with them, and by the end of "Dear Mama," several were in tears--I think maybe not just for the love in it, but because that love came in spite of the fact that Tupac's mom was an addict. In that piece he's acknowledging all she's gone through and asserting that he loves her as she is. **Many** of my students really want that to be possible for them, with their kids.

I felt like I had wandered into a room so much bigger than I had imagined.

"He's not dead," one student said stoutly. Yeah. Sometimes your presence and your creation is so meaningful that even death can't decommission you.


Jan. 18th, 2019 05:00 pm
asakiyume: (shaft of light)


One word of Portuguese, buzzing in my head

In the cold Northeast soon the snow-bees will be buzzing

while somewhere in Amazonas,

little abelha-cachorro, dog-bee

is pollinating brilliant blooms

epiphytes, bromiliads,


and passion flowers
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

I loved this collection. It makes me wish I’d known Gwynne Garfinkle when I was 10–12, because boy could we have played some great imaginary games together.

I’ll start with the stories, because those are what I read first. One I’d read before, “The Hedgehog and the Pine Cone,” a fable about depression, isolation, and friendship, but the rest were completely new to me. The first one I experienced was “Man Size,” which my daughter picked out and read to me when I was cooking one night. It’s a gripping story of a type of vampire unfortunately all too common in real life—one who gains power and vitality by belittling and negating others. Then I read “Don’t Look Back,” a powerful Orpheus-Eurydice story, a turn-back-time story, with the roles changed, interesting thoughts on trade-offs, and tragedy still waiting. I loved these lines:
Orpheus tears himself apart. Try as they might, the Maenads can’t put him back together again. They wail and rend their garments. Then they get very drunk

Where the protagonist of “Don’t Look Back” had the power to rewrite history, the protagonists of “The Paper Doll Golems” and “The Imaginary Friend” have the power of animation. The first is told from the perspective of Ruthie, who animates her paper dolls, while the second is told from the perspective of the titular imaginary friend, a stranded alien based on the hero of a movie beloved of Gigi, the girl who creates him. (Knowing that Gwynne is a film buff, I went searching for this movie, but alas, it seems not to exist, though I suspect The Cat from Outer Space was a partial influence [ETA: I guessed wrong! She says it was inspired by Planet of the Apes.]) Both stories have things to say about power and helplessness. Gwynne is definitely here for women who have been crushed, erased, belittled, co-opted—or murdered or otherwise destroyed. The opening story in the collection, “In Lieu of a Thank You,” sets the tone in that respect, transforming a damsel in distress into something much more powerful.

The poems were equally absorbing—one, in fact, entered my dreams last night: “Levitation Class.” That poem was absolutely perfect for me last night, and in my dreams I rose just as the poem describes. Thanks for that, Gwynne:
when you and your pain reach the ground
try to retain the sensation of flight

On the page facing “Levitation Class” is “Dorothy’s Prayer,” a beautiful poem from the perspective of Dorothy from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz that contains a cyclone in it. Many of the poems are inspired by or in conversation with films: “50 Foot” (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, 1958)—“They wanted you invisible or dead./Daring to take up space makes you monstrous”—and on the facing page, “love song from The Blob to Steve McQueen,” (The Blob, 1958) which contains these excellent lines:
it’s how I roll, it’s how I scroll
I’m my own red carpet
because I’m the star of the show

“Mysogyny” takes on The Stepford Wives (1975), asking us to imagine what Stepford looks like decades later. Maybe fathers initiate their sons into the dark secret, but what, the poem asks, do they tell their daughters? And “Linda Blair Pantoum” (shoutout to pantoums—I love that poetic form) sent me to Wikipedia to find out the significance of the references—and now I want Gwynne to write a poem entirely for Mercedes McCambridge, originally not credited as the voice of the demon in The Exorcist (1973). But I don’t want you to get the impression that you have to be a film fanatic or do tons of research to enjoy these poems: they’ll speak to you even without that knowledge. (They just say even more if you do have it.)

People Change is number 63 in Aqueduct Press’s Conversation Pieces series.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Sherwood Smith asked me some really interesting questions that The Inconvenient God raised for her, and she posted the questions and answers over on the Book View Cafe blog (here).

I think my favorite question was the one about whether writing words down chains them. The technology of writing is really wonderful and makes miracles possible, in terms of sharing and transmission, but the spoken word has real power too. I love thinking about their different strengths.

And speaking of spoken word (heh), [personal profile] okrablossom linked me to another beautiful spoken word poem, "Rise," by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, this time in collaboration with Aka Niviâna, an Inuk poet. Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is from the Marshall Islands, which are gravely threatened by rising sea levels, and many of her poems deal with climate change. Aka Niviâna is from Kalaallit Nunaat--Greenland--whose melting glaciers create the rising sea levels. Her poems often deal with the legacy of colonization.

Their words, combined with the breathtaking images, is really powerful (video (6 minutes) and text of the poem available here).

--Sister of ice and snow, I'm coming to you
--Sister of ocean and sand, I welcome you

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

I wrote this just now. I think I'm calling it "kitchen guest"

asakiyume: (man on wire)

Left to his own devices
phone fitbit
desktop laptop tablet tv
xbox one ps4
thumb drives earbuds multiple remotes
computerized car intelligent fridge
microwave keurig alexa echo

He reads shares shoots maps
plays lurks cheats hacks
streams plots blocks compiles
inputs measures messages
commutes reroutes preserves renews
mixes secures monitors








where are the lever
and fulcrum
with which to move the world?


Nov. 4th, 2017 06:00 pm
asakiyume: (november birch)
Prick my skin and peel it back
Inside you'll find
November skies
That filled me to the brim
When I looked up today

Speaking of winter (....more or less) a story of mine, "The Stars' Chill Song," which was originally published in Zahir (a speculative fiction zine that has since closed) in 2011, is reprinted in Still Water: A Noblebright Fantasy Anthology.

The only other stories in it that I've read are the ones by Sherwood Smith, but I sense a theme of coldness, at least in the titles ("Ice and Fire," "Iron and Frost," "The Ice of Heaven"), and there's one author who I want to read just because of his cool name: Ville Meriläinen.

Here is an Amazon link if you want to check it out.

asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)
Spanish Duolingo often has intriguing or provocative sentences for you to translate. This post's subject line was one I got last night:

(The girl plays with her shadow)

The child plays with her shadow
Jumping, jumping
To free her playmate
From the tether of her feet


May. 27th, 2017 12:59 pm
asakiyume: (the source)
When I started off on LJ, I created a super-beautiful, idiosyncratic password that gave me pleasure to type. When I re-started a DW account, the password I created was ... way less beautiful. And yet it turns out that I feel just as happy to type in the DW password and to write an entry or read other people's entries as I did/do to type in the fancy-special password.

... I guess it doesn't hurt to make marvelous passwords that you love, but on the other hand, it really is just a password, and it's getting on the actual site and doing stuff there that's The Thing.

This video is unrelated to passwords--it's Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner reading one of her climate change poems. The words are beautiful and heartbreaking, but also hopeful: They say you . . . wander rootless with only a passport to call home, and when she read it in 2014 at the United Nations climate summit, she got a standing ovation; people were very moved. Watch all the way through.

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
There are things I learned related to the marches on Saturday, but I think I'm still working on that learning, so I can't really post about it, though, tangentially, my apolitical neighbor and friend has sent round an email to a bunch of her friends (me included) about staying active and engaged after the marches and after the anti-bigotry potluck that a group in town sponsored last Monday, so one thing I learned is: this is how people become activists. I was full of awe and respect.

At that potluck I found out that the longtime town clerk (now retired), an archetypal Yankee type, lean, with white hair, reserved, but with a nice smile, had been in the Selma march, had been on the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis. He's such an understated guy, a dedicated, quiet civil servant. I think I (re)learned something about who heroes are. Maybe they're the guy you're getting your dog license from.

Here, serving on the Board of Selectmen

It ties in with the poem "Ars Poetica #100," by Elizabeth Alexander (available for reading and listening here), these lines in particular:

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

Something gold, something fiery
slipping from a sky-cast net
peeking through pines
flaming, molten,
along the line of the hills




asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

tell me the limits of clouds
because I hear they are not spheres
and not the cheeks of angels
but I don’t know
what other boundaries
may not be crossed
with clouds
asakiyume: (far horizon)

This morning I caught Living on Earth, a radio show about the environment. They were talking about the Paris Climate Conference, and their last segment was a poem, "Tell Them," by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands. I was lying in bed--the radio was on in the kitchen, but my attention was pulled: soon I was listening intently. It's a long poem, and I don't think I should put the whole thing here without asking permission (you can read it here), but here are some parts that I especially liked:

tell them our islands were dropped
from a basket
carried by a giant
tell them we are the hollow hulls
of canoes as fast as the wind
slicing through the Pacific sea ...

tell them we are styrofoam cups of Kool-Aid red
waiting patiently for the ilomij
we are papaya-golden sunsets bleeding
into a glittering, open sea
we are skies uncluttered
majestic and sweeping in their landscape
tell them we are dusty rubber slippers
from concrete doorsteps ...

we are children flinging
like rubber bands
across a road clogged with chugging cars
tell them
we only have one road ...

tell them some of us
are old fishermen who believe that God
made us a promise
tell them some of us
are a little more skeptical
but most importantly you tell them
that we don't want to leave
that we've never wanted to leave
and that we
are nothing without our islands.

Jaier Juano and family; photo by 黒忍者 on Flickr (click through)
Jaier Juano and family

ETA: Regarding the Climate Change Agreement reached today, Al Jazeera reports,

In a victory for small island nations threatened by rising seas, the agreement includes a section recognizing "loss and damage" associated with climate-related disasters.

Come Quick

Sep. 16th, 2015 09:01 am
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

Come quick
I am bursting at the seams
and cannot contain
my own existence.

Please hold me
Yes, there is the mess
of all my salty liquids
and the bitterness
of my regrets,

but also
this still sunlight
that's too much
for my eyes and skin alone,

the light touch
of this insect on my arm,

this sound
from everywhere
like bells, like heaven.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

This issue of Not One of Us has stories and poetry by people whose work I love, and I'm looking forward to savoring each piece. As it happens, my eyes first fell on a lovely poem by [ profile] sovay for [ profile] rose_lemberg called "Day, Sun, Night." It starts like this:

I worte this poem on a feather
and sent it by post of the sun

So lovely!

And this description:

Her hair a chime of coins and ancient gold

What's great about the poem (and it's short--I've just quoted you almost a third of it) is how, while remaining entirely [ profile] sovay's poem, it speaks to [ profile] rose_lemberg's poetic sensibilities (birds, sun).

Not One of Us is a print zine with a new home base: The subscription information is here.

high beams

Apr. 27th, 2015 10:31 am
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)

You flick your lights at me?
You think these are my brights?
No, no, no:
If I were on high beams
You would see nothing
But the retina-destroying brilliance
Of twin suns in supernova
A radiance so profound
That the shadows it casts
Tremble in perpetual aftershock.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)

Ed Ou: The North

I've been wanting to share the amazing photo essays of Ed Ou--in particular, one of life in Nunavut. Never have I felt I got to know life in a distant place so well merely from pictures as I did from looking through this collection. Warning: There are scenes of hunting and its aftermath in this--which is part of life in Nunavut--so don't go to the link if that will upset you.

Ed Ou: The North

Ed Ou: The North

The choices Ed made in who to photograph, and where, really give such a whole, compassionate, intimate picture of life in the Arctic. I loved them. And we're having our own Nunavut-like temperatures here this weekend, so--well, it's a tenuous sort of connection, but a connection.

Here's my own photo of our bright star, caught in the trees and not conveying much warmth this morning

Rhysling nomination

I was so moved and touched to receive a Rhysling nomination for my poem "The Peal Divers." It's been so long since I wrote poetry--that was one poem that came to me in the midst of my poetry desert. With just one poem to my name in 2014, it never occurred to me to even consider awards. And yet someone, some member of the SFPA, remembered it and nominated it. I'm humbled and grateful.

Pop Sonnets recasts pop lyrics as sonnets. Very fun. Here's "Baby Got Back."


Oct. 25th, 2014 10:15 am
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (wanderer)

Photo by Amanda Wada. Source

No hunting, fishing, trapping
No trespassing for any purpose
No hiking, ambling, or wandering
No mushroom or wildflower gathering
No standing in the filtered light
Clothed in its gauzy shafts
No lingering
No dropping down right here
Onto the starry moss
Alone or with your lover in your arms
And gazing up at the embroidered sky

asakiyume: (nevermore)
Editor John Benson calls issue 52 of Not One of Us the alternative issue. Things aren't as they seem, or get overwritten or undone, there are shatterings and fires and renewals. I love the attention John has paid to what goes where--which poems go together, and before or after which stories, and which stories abut.

I'm self-interested in writing about this issue, because I have a story in it--and truly, I wanted to write about issue 51, which has a beautifully creepy story by Mat Joiner in it, and a wonderful-as-usual story by Patricia Russo, not to mention both poetry and prose by Sonya Taaffe, but time got away from me, so it's issue 52 I'll talk about here.

my own story )

I'm very, very happy to be sidling up next to Sonya Taaffe's "Like Milkweed," an achingly beautiful story of loss and hope and mystery: it's all too easy to hope that the human-sized monarch butterflies that started to appear some years ago are souls of the departed, or maybe angels, or maybe aliens, but Alicja does not believe any of those things, and yet when one knocks at her window, in all its golden-orange radiance. . .

And before Sonya's story comes Mat Joiner's poem "The Bryomancer," about a charmer of mosses, molds, and mildews:

The mosses have a love for her;
curl up like fronded hedgehogs and roll into her pack.

It reminds me of this picture of a strange seaweed phenomenon.

Before Mat's poem is the first story in the issue, "Starred Up," by Finn Clark, which features an actual alien encounter . . . if the viewpoint protagonist can trust her perceptions--which a history of mental illness has taught her to interrogate fiercely.

poems: a pyre, a fire, a graveyard, a vow )

And those images of shadowed, shattered lands provide the perfect lead-in for Patricia Russo's "The Wild and Hungry Times," a story with a desolate setting that touches on bucking destiny, enacting redemption . . . and the impositions (and ridiculousness) of academe. For the last, consider the introduction's discussion of word vaults:

The scarred lords left behind them a reestablished trading network and hundreds of what the next lot called word-vaults. It is believed that this term referred to archives, or possibly schools, or possibly private libraries, or possibly multilingual dictionaries, or possibly stone halls in which epics and sagas and such were chanted or sung. There is approximately an equal amount of evidence to support each of these hypotheses, except the last, which is ludicrous.

two poems and a cyber-tale )

And the issue closes out with Sonya Taaffe's "The Antiquities of Herculaneum," a vivid ode to volcanic wrath.

If these appeal, you can order a copy from John Benson, and it will come to you in your mailbox--your actual, physical, brick-and-mortar mailbox (except probably your mailbox is not made of brick or mortar)--the ur-mailbox after which your cyber mailbox styles itself.

asakiyume: (autumn source)
You can choose between poems, novels, folklore, cool nonfiction, or nature, or--you can have all of them


People who read this blog will no doubt be aware of the new zine Liminality. Well its first issue is out! With a lovely portrait of a mangrove dryad by [ profile] haikujaguar on its cover and so. many. wonderful. poems.

Maggie Hogarth's cover

some of the poetic goodness under the cut )


Just one: Prisoner, by Lia Silver. I haven't written up my review of it yet, but it's just so good.

some effusive gushing )


Part one of a two-part introduction to mythic, folkloric creatures from around the world is up right now at the Book Smugglers. Cultures covered include Mexican, South Asian (Vedic based), Maori, and Filipino, as well as a look at dragonlike beings around the world, and the wonders of actual, real-world trees from around the world. A great read.

"A Diverse Mythical Creatures Round Table"

Cool nonfiction

I haven't read this yet, but I'm going to: Quilombo dos Palmares: Brazil's Lost Nation of Fugitive Slaves, by Glenn Cheney.

Did you know that there was a nation of escaped slaves that existed for almost 90 years in the 1600s in Brazil? I did not. I wonder what stories and legends must come down through the generations from that nation? I expect Glenn's book will help answer that question. He's written about the dispossessed farmers of Brazil, Promised Land, which I reviewed here, so I have confidence that this book will be an in-depth, thoughtful treatment.


a leaf falls on its face--you have a hint at what that face will show, but you're not sure:

. . . so you must turn it over.

There now. Perfect.

And with that I leave you for a bit, my friends. Gotta earn some money. But I will drop by your pages and answer comments later today.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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