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.
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: (feathers on the line)
I tuned into an episode of The Moth Radio hour about halfway through a segment called "The Hat," by Omar Musa, a Malaysian-Australian author, rapper, and poet. The things he said about machetes and words stuck with me enough that I want to share them--those things, and an almost fable-like story of his father, which comes in the middle.

First, the machetes. At one point, as a teenager, Omar goes to visit his grandparents in Borneo, and they go to some family land, and his grandfather has to cut a path for them to get to the house. Omar reflects that the parang, the Malay machete, is associated with piracy and headhunting, but as he saw his grandfather clearing the path, he has a different impression:

suddenly in my head I realized that the parang ... can be something that forges a path between places that don't usually connect, places that don't usually communicate.

Hold that thought for the end, when he talks about words. And now comes the entrancing story of his father:

So we get to this hut in the middle of the jungle, and there's a family of orangutans living there, and we have to shoo them out of the house. And my grandparents tell me that when my father spent time at this little piece of land, he would sit in front of the hut, and he would read the Quran with this very deep, mellifluous, beautiful voice, and suddenly dozens of orangutans and families of monkeys would start climbing down from the trees and sit in front of him like a rapt audience ... and listen to him reading the Quran.

I couldn't stop thinking of it: his dad, like Saint Francis, sharing sacred text with the animals. I could picture it so vividly, all those orangutans and monkeys, gathered round, listening.

And then the last part: when Omar goes to his cousin's wedding and his cousin asks him to come on stage and do some hip-hop:

"Hey Omar, I want you to get on stage, I want you to do that thing that you do, that type of poetry, that hip-hop, that thing that you do in Australia, I want you to perform for us for the first time."

So he does, and then afterward...

And I stood there, and they were cheering and applauding, and I went and I sat down next to my grandmother, and my grandmother looked at me with these piercing eyes, and she said, "You know, I never learned how to read or write ... I've been illiterate my whole life; I left home at the age of nine, and tapped rubber and lived on the streets ... but I have 150 poems in my head that I created when I was living out there, kicked out of home at the age of nine, A-B, A-B, pantoums, the traditional improvised form of Malay poetry. This poetry that you're doing now is like the poetry that I used to help me get through these hard times."

And it was then that I realized I had found my own parang, my own machete, my words, my words that could cut through worlds, that could cut through time and even generation.

And I thought that was brilliant, because it was was the cutting that was doing the connecting, the sharp slicing not to hurt but to cut down barriers, so that people can find a connection.

Link to the complete segment: "The Hat"
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?
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: (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.
asakiyume: (Em)
I'm going to share the notes that I took, fairly haphazardly, at Sirens. The first thing I took out my pen for was a panel with the three guests of honor: Kate Elliott, Yoon Ha Lee, and Rae Carson, on Friday morning.

The panel title was 'Writing the Fantastic: Insurrection, Intersection, and Evolution.' )

The next panel I went to was 'Women of the Revolution: Changing Genre and the World' )

Then I went to a talk by Cafenowhere titled 'The Pen *Is* Mightier than the Sword' )

I also saw a talk on the comic 'Lumberjanes' )

So that was Friday! I'll write up Saturday later tonight.

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: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Last year, two friends had poetry and short-story collections come out in Aqueduct Press's Conversation Pieces series. One is Lisa Bradley (The Haunted Girl), whose works have appeared in Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, and Mythic Delirium, among other venues, and who's been anthologized in Rose Lemberg's The Moment of Change and Sylvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey's Fungi, among other collections. I got to know her work through her poem-a-day on LJ. Those entries are mainly locked, but here and here are a couple of evocative short-form poems that she shared publicly. I loved The Haunted Girl (review here), and the other day I asked if I could interview her about it. She agreed!

The title of this collection, and of one of the poems in it, is “The Haunted Girl.” Can you talk a little about the different forms that haunting takes in this collection?

There are few, if any, see-through, rattling chains, type ghosts here. Most of the hauntings come from our ability to imagine other outcomes, to impose counterfactuals on memories.

The Haunted Girl in the title poem is an amalgamation of girls killed in horror movies. The narrator is haunted by the knowledge that this didn’t *have* to be the Girl’s fate. She imagines ways to help the Girl, but none of the counterfactuals work because our world IS the horror movie: it created and perpetuates misogynistic tropes. In “Teratoma Lullaby,” “Blood Is Thicker than Water,” and several other pieces, the true haunting is a yearning to fix broken families, to rewrite personal histories.

There are some curses in the book, too. Casting a vengeful curse is pushing your counterfactual into the future. If, on the other hand, you’re the one cursed, then much of your tragedy comes of imagining the beautiful life you’d have otherwise.

on family )

horror--plus humor? )

I hope the world will one day get to see your novels, as I have a powerful love for the one I’ve read. As a writer of poetry, short stories, and novels, do you find one or another of those formats more amenable to some topics or themes than others? Are you driven to write in a particular format, or is it a conscious choice--or does it vary?

I can’t imagine writing a whole novel about family, not the way I do in poems and short stories. That kind of emotional intensity and self-reflection would probably kill me. (Current “me,” that is. Never say never, right?) Family usually sneaks its way into the novels, but it’s not the focus.

In my mental shorthand, poetry is for ideas, stories for character, and novels for action. I realize this differs from current genre expectations, which may explain why my poetry has been more outwardly successful than my fiction.

Thank you so much for this interview! Your description of a curse--“pushing your counterfactual into the future”--as well as your insights about family, especially about the sense of walking into a story already in progress--have really given me food for thought, as has your neat system for what things become poems, short stories, and novels.

You can read more from Lisa on Twitter or here on LJ.

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: (far horizon)

Why do you hurl yourself ashore,
star charts etched in your skin
for us to use as augury?
Why sacrifice yourself
for aliens so barely literate
in the symbols you employ?

Photo credit: Antara/Indrianto Eko Suwarso

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

I will have a this-day-in-Pen-Pal post for you later, but first I want to point you to two wonderful posts. One is by [ profile] mnfaure, and features the work of an amazing poet and spoken-word performer, Anis Mojgani--it is here. And in case you are click-aversive, here is half the wonderment of that post:

But you must go to her post for the link to the other poem, "Shake the Dust," which is equally good.

And the other post is by [ profile] sovay, and is a description of a truly wonderful-sounding movie. It is here, and I don't have a visual to tempt you with, but consider this:

What it reads most like is a version of Beauty and the Beast in which each of the lovers takes both parts in turn and the story plays fair with them . . . And the film never, not once, claims that love fixes broken people. All it underscores is the importance of loving people for who they are, not who they used to be or who you hope they'll turn into.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

April 2019

1415161718 1920


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 20th, 2019 08:17 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios