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Still thinking about Chibok, still thinking about those girls.  Today, I tried again to articulate my thoughts.

This isn’t an article about what we can do — or what someone should do — to bring those girls back home.  This is an article about education, about the fear of educated women, about the risks all of us take every time we dare to learn something new, to use education to change our situations.  The girls of Chibok were kidnapped because they went to school.

When I first became an adult literacy teacher, I had a student who was a confident, funny, intelligent member of the class.  She was an absolute beginning reader and was making gradual progress.

One night I met her partner and saw my student become small and withdrawn in his presence.  Her greeting and hesitant smile were nothing like the bright, wide smile we saw in class each night.

Instead of a greeting, he tossed her The New York Times, asked her to read to him.  When she told him she couldn’t, he asked why she bothered with school if she couldn’t read, told her she was lucky she had him to take care of her, that she’d be helpless otherwise.

I’ve thought about her so many times since that night, and thought of her as my initial horror and sadness over the abductions in Nigeria churned into anger.  What was that man so afraid of?  How could it have been so terrifying to him that his girlfriend was learning to read?  I know an answer to this question.  He imagined that an education would help her see just how much she didn’t need him.  But while he had every right to be afraid, he had no right to use his fear as a weapon to smash her curiosity, her cleverness, her smile.

In the years after that class, I saw many women for whom attending school was a dangerous decision.  A student in one program withdrew from classes when her boyfriend reported her for child neglect because she left her daughters with their grandmother to attend classes three nights a week.  A GED student missed every test she was scheduled for because as each test date approached, her husband would beat her so severely she couldn’t leave the house.  Another student’s partner destroyed her birth control each time she enrolled in school so that she would get pregnant and need to leave school before taking the test.

We aren’t the missing girls of Chibok.  We aren’t.  We have experienced trauma and abuse, but we aren’t those girls … except that we are, too.  I think about past students as my heart aches for those girls and their families because people around me keep saying they can’t imagine a culture in which girls would be punished, would be terrorized for wanting an education.

No?  Look outside.  Look in the mirror.  We are that culture.  And we, as women learners, teachers, researchers, advocates, and allies are fighting back against that culture.

And so are the girls in Chibok, and Warabe, and other Nigerian villages under the shadow of Boko Haram.  They are going to school.  Now.  Still.  They are asserting their right to learn, their right to determine who they’ll be in the world.

 

I use the “BringBackOurGirls” hashtag.  It’s one painfully small way to remind people that those girls are still missing, that many may already have been sold into slavery.  I can’t go to Nigeria and rescue them, but I can work here at home to change attitudes and dismantle systems that harm women.  I can continue to support WE LEARN and education for women as vehicles for equity and change, for putting power in women’s hands.

_______

SOL image 2014

Slice of Life Tuesdays are hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

I am still sad and silent.  But Raivenne is writing.  She is also using poetry to find a voice for the horror of Chibok and Warabe: Bring Her Home.

Too many things I don’t have the ability to write about.  Really just two.  Really just one.  How long will black women have to live in the world before we are seen as valuable, before we are no longer reviled, ridiculed, devalued, dehumanized, dismissed?

I can’t write about Chibok’s kidnapped daughters because my impotence chokes me.  I can’t find any way to talk through my horror and sadness, my spitting, explosive anger, my inability to do anything.  Anything.

Which you’ve heard from me before.  When Sean Bell’s killers were acquitted.*  When Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted.  When Abeer Qassim al-Janabi’s killer got life instead of a death sentence.  Because that is always the problem for me.  These horror stories so demoralize and enrage me with their ability to show me a) just how little room there is for me in this world and b) just how little I am able to do about it.  And so I rail and cry and then, eventually, I shut up.  Because I still don’t know what is the thing I can do that can actually make a difference.  Because my pain floods with so much rage that I can’t form coherent thoughts.

Chibok and all those missing girls are resting on my heart, weighing me down, filtering into everything.  How could it not?  Hundreds of children taken, a government barely rousing itself to acknowledge there might be a problem.  I thought of those girls this weekend, as I spent time with my 15-year-old niece.  Every time I looked at her beautiful, half-baby, half-grown-girl face.  And again, my pain is flooded with rage.  Because I noticed.  I noticed that, although the girls were abducted on April 14th, reporters — when they finally started talking about it — kept saying April 22nd because that’s when they first bothered to make note of it.  I noticed that, even though the number of girls taken was closer to 300, the number immediately became “more than 200″ and “some 200″ … as if that was somehow less terrible, less something we should be paying attention to.  I noticed that, the minute the stories began about selling the girls to Boko Haram members, reporters started referring to them as “young women” … as if calling them “women” instead of “girls” would make it okay that they were being sold into sexual slavery.  I noticed that it wasn’t until lots of people in this country held rallies and made #BringBackOurGirls trend that mainstream media finally decided there was something to talk about.  And I noticed that those stories all started by talking about the surprise of the trending hashtag and the number of rallies and not about the girls, not about their families, not with enough of the accurate details such as how long ago those children were stolen.

And I noticed that today 8 more girls were kidnapped from another Nigerian village.

We’re close enough to April, that I’m still connecting my thoughts to writing poems. And, too, I’m remembering Sonia Sanchez talking about using form poems when your emotions are running you and you need some way to harness the chaos.

Stolen

Girls.
Their lives
used as pawns.
This is a game
played too many times.
These
girls. Ours –
our hearts, our
lives, our last hopes.
Thrown to the fire,
Who
will come
for them now?
Who understands –
to us they are all.

And I also can’t write about Leslie Jones. Tressie McMillan’s piece about Jones gets it so right (despite her title), right in a way that I still can’t get it. Kimberly Foster gets it equally right. Yes, yes, Jones is supposed to be a comedian.  Yes, comedians make jokes about uncomfortable things, or uncomfortable jokes about difficult things … or difficult jokes about ugly things …  Yes, I understand.  But even through all of those lenses there was something wrong with Jones’ Weekend Update sketch.  Deeply wrong.  And her response to the criticism is almost more disturbing than the SNL piece itself.

And I can’t write about any of it.  Can’t. Because what is there to say, what can I say that will lead to any kind of desired result?

Years ago, I went to a Marx Brothers film festival.  In Paris.  There weren’t many people in the theater.  I was there with a friend, and we laughed and laughed.  One or two other people laughed along with us, and I realized that they must be English speakers.  Fluent English speakers.  Because the film was subtitled, and how can you subtitle the Marx Brothers?  You would have to keep freezing the frame and inserting long explanations: 1) this is what he said, 2) this is what it meant, 3) this is why it’s funny.  Who has time for all that explication?  How can anything be funny at the end of all those annotations?

That’s how I feel about Leslie Jones’ SNL skit.  If it needs this much context-setting, this much explaining, the joke isn’t working and I don’t see how anyone can find the funny in it.  And Jones’ inability to acknowledge that there could be a possibility that she took a wrong turn, that she was playing for the wrong audience in the wrong moment is maddening.

For now, I’m still in Arun mode.  It surprised me when I was thinking about these stories today and poems kept composing themselves in my head.  But I’m going with it, letting them loose:

My
body.
No temple
this. Not in your
eyes. You only see brown
skin,
kinky
hair, full lips.
You think you know
something about me.
You’ve
watched your
tarted up
master-slave tales,
had your Saartjie dreams.

My
body.
My temple.
Full of wisdom,
heat, contempt for
all
you think
you know. I
once listened, let
you tell me what to
see.
No more.
That’s over. I
don’t need your leave
to see my fine self.

And I keep trying to work on my comic, and I keep trying to find a way to sustain real conversation about race.  And I keep getting slapped in the face with … well, the reasons that I need to keep doing my work.  Nearly 300 black girls can be swept away in one moment and the world barely blinks.  The FBI’s list of missing persons is 40% black women — 65,000 wives, mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, friends, cousins — and yet we almost never hear about any of them.  My heart is heavy tonight, and I don’t have the space for any of this.

_____

SOL image 2014
Slice of Life Tuesdays is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

__________
* That first time, I kept thinking that if I tried to speak, I’d find my way.  I tried again and again to process, to find a path. Eventually, I retreated to silence.

All good things …

And so National Poetry Month comes to a close.  Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “call it a day” poem.  This month of poems has seemed to fly by.  Crazy-quick.  It’s been an interesting month poem-wise, and I’m a little sorry to see it end.  A little.  I don’t think I could have sustained the daily posting for too much longer!

A month of aruns.  The form held up much better than I’d have thought it would.  What’s next?  Back to fiction, back to non-fiction.  Poems on pause for a while.  But tonight: one last arun for the month.

Rain
filling
every space,
reminding us
of childhood rhymes.
April
showers,
their promised
apple blossoms,
and lilacs. Fresh, clear
light
of Spring.
Water calls,
awakening
this season to bloom.

I know I already wrote a “welcome spring!” poem this month, but the weather didn’t cooperate. I’m trying optimism, hoping another welcome will do the trick.

Hope you enjoyed your Poetry Month!

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received just over half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

One of my favorite things from Saturday’s time spent at the Industry City Open Studio event? Getting to stand in the Colson Pastries window watching the very skilled baker make croissants. I was there with Mopsy, and we were both just a little bit mesmerized by the process. One highlight moment for me was the step after the cutting of the dough but before the rolling of the crescents. The baker took each piece of the dough he’d just carefully (but so quickly) and cleanly cut and tossed it on a scale. The idea that every croissant would be the same weight (ish) pleased me enormously. Quality control in action!  Even more impressive was that only two of the many, many pieces of dough he threw on the scale didn’t pass muster.  Amazing.

The rolling of the crescents was more elaborate than I’d expected, too.  Each piece of dough was an almost-isosceles triangle – but where there should have been a point at the top with the two equal sides meeting, it was flat instead, as if the point had been cut off (it hadn’t, the not-quite-triangles never had pointy tops to begin with).  The baker took hold of that not-pointed end and stretched it out in front of him before beginning to roll up the crescent from the base to that stretched end.  Then he looped the ends of the rolled down around the join in the front, making a closed crescent.

I love getting to see how things work, particularly when they are things I think I already know about.  And maybe that’s a nice move from random information to tonight’s poem.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “realism” poem or a “magical” poem.  Or, of course, a really magical poem.  Or even a magically real poem.  Or,yes, a magical realism poem.  Right.  Perhaps I would be better off being realistic about how tired I am, how close to midnight it is, and how unlikely it is that anything like any of those possibilities will be happening. No. Instead I’m thinking about teaching, about a thousand years ago when I taught high school and gave Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” to my students for the first time. Feeling their brains, their hearts, their whole beings expand and contract as they worked to come to terms with the printed pages in front of them. That might have been one of my first “Whoa” moments as a teacher. (And another would come not long after when I gave them Octavio Paz’s “My Life with the Wave.”)  Marquez and Paz were firsts for my students, forcing them struggle with the realization that things they thought they already knew — this is how a story works, this is what an angel is, this is what love looks like — might actually work some other way all together.  The work they had to do was far more dramatic and difficult than my experience observing the Colson baker, but I like that I found a weird little connection between that and this.

Marquez

When
they read
him, students
took his stories,
shook them hard, rattling
lines
seeking
the real, known.
Not everyone
reached the far side.  Some
fought, 
wrestled,
stayed angry.
Those who came through
flung wide all their doors.

I’m doing it again — ending before the real end has come. But I’m giving myself a pass because I’m that tired. And because this almost works. I told myself the other day that I’d come back to some of this month’s aruns and write them until they were really finished. We’ll see if I do. That could be interesting. I don’t usually come back after April passes.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received just over half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

SOL image 2014

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!
See all of today’s slices at Two Writing Teachers!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

My wonderful, and wonderfully talented friend Alejna invited me to join in this “writing process blog tour” meme that’s getting passed around just now. She posted her entry last Monday on her blog, Collecting Tokens, and this week it’s my turn.

The meme offers up four questions and then gets passed on to a few additional bloggers who will post the following Monday. The four questions:

1) What are you working on?
2) How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?
3) Why do you write what you do?
4) How does your writing process work?

I’ve invited three friends to take up the meme for next week. First there is Lisa, who is both a writer and a painter and may surprise us with process writing about both.  I love Lisa’s artwork, her kind spirit, her openness, and her generosity as a writer (and as a person!). Then there is Sonia, a writer I’ve known almost half my life, who will add her spice to the mix.  I love how Sonia has incorporated her journalism skills into her fiction, her attention to details, and the feminist lens she brings to the page.  And finally, there is Glendaliz, who is currently at a writing retreat in Wyoming and may add some wild west flavor to complement her innate flair.  Glendaliz writes fiction the way I dream of writing fiction: beautiful, fluid, powerful stories that grab me and hold tight, and her blog writing has a similar pull.  I’m not sure if she’ll be joining the meme, but I really hope she’ll be able to.

Warning: this post is unconscionably long.
(Not apologizing, just notifying.)

And so. Let’s get started.

__________

What are you working on?

The simple answer to this question is “too many things and not enough all at once.”  But that’s too easy.

For starters, I have been writing poems all month … because it’s April and because I like writing challenges. Each year, starting in 2009, I’ve chosen one form and written that each day for the whole month: tanka, rhyme royal, nove otto, zeno, arun. The arun appeared last year, and seems to be a new form that I’ve created. I had surgey mid-month last April, which kept me from finishing my month of aruns, so I took the form on again for this year. (You can see today’s very sparkly arun below, but I think the best ones this month were written when I had the surprise of making some family tree discoveries.  This is the first. This is another. And this is one of the hardest.)

The poetry has been hard for me. I have a bad history with being “good enough,” with being “allowed” to write poetry. This April is the first time I’ve given myself a break and just written what I wanted to write. And, not at all surprising, this April has been the easiest poetry month for me. Even 2009, when the tanka seemed to fall out of me, wasn’t as pain-free as this year. It’s a good lesson for me, seeing just how hard I make it for myself.

I’ve also been writing for my comic … or trying to.  I have a soon-coming deadline to submit work for VONA, so that’s spurring me on right now. It’s also true that I think Adventures could go somewhere if I could get it finished, so working on it now feels urgent and important.

It also feels very loaded. There are people who are supportive of me and of my writing, friends and co-workers who will be surprised to recognize themselves in the stories. Creating the comic without having actively challenged their comments or behaviors feels underhanded and passive-aggressive. At the same time, biting my tongue in the moment has often felt safer, and sometimes I need to worry more about my own well being over other people’s feelings.

I’m also writing stories. I had an idea for a fiction-only blog, and I want to finally get that up and running.  I lamented last week that I haven’t been able to find/steal enough mental time to focus on a longer-form story, that all the fiction I’m writing lately is flash.  I’m still feeling the frustration of that, but even without working on a long story, I am certainly still working on stories, and I need to acknowledge and honor that and not be so hard on myself.  Do I believe I’ll never write a long story again?  No.  So I should calm down a bit and just do what I have the ability to do right now.

The one area of writing that I neglect most and most often is this blog.  I can go months without a word.  Happily, every March there is the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge, started in 2008 by the lovely ladies over at Two Writing Teachers.  That challenge started just as I entered the world of blogging, and really helped me work on my online voice.  In the years since, it has brought me back to my blog, no matter how many months this space has lain fallow.  This year, I was away for 3 months when the March challenge rolled around.  Way too long, but the lure of the daily slices got me back here.  And then, of course, March is followed by National Poetry Month, and my personal poem-a-day challenge, so I’m always guaranteed at least two solid months of blogging.  I want to be a little truer to my online self, however, and post more consistently, at least once a week during the rest of the year.  We’ll see how I do with that.

Most of the creative non-fiction I’ve written lately has been for this blog, but I’ve also written a couple of longer pieces that have been published in anthologies about women’s literacy.  I like essays, and taught essay writing for years.  I was driven almost crazy by the formula 5-paragraph essay that students would enter my class with, having been taught that the formula was the way to go for everything.  It’s really pretty awful to so stunt a student’s writing by teaching them that kind of crap.

So, as I said: too many things and not enough all at once.

How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

So, I write in a few genres — non fiction, fiction, poetry, and now comics — and I honestly have no idea how my work is different from others writing in the same genres.  Oh dear.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about this one in the almost-a-week that I’ve been jotting down notes for this post … and still nothing.

Why do you write what you do?

I write for a few reasons.  First, I’ve always liked writing, liked playing with language.  I really like English.  It’s a beautiful language if its given half a chance.  And yes, a lot of our words are borrowed from other places, but they’re here now, and they work.  You can say things such as, “Here I sit, ready to deliquesce at the sound of your voice” (something I wrote in a love note to an ex years ago).    What’s not to love about that?

I also write because it’s the best way I know to figure out what I think and feel about things.  Sonia used to have a signature on her emails: “Writing is thinking, not thinking written down.”  That has always made so much sense to me.  The thought process in my head is often unmanageable — too many swirling, crazy clouds of everything careering around in there, running into and over one another.  Writing gives me the power to harness the crazy and see what’s really going on.  Sometimes I get it horribly wrong — sending off letters before I’ve had a chance to think them through completely (revise), sitting on an idea so long trying to get it right that someone else has already gotten there by the time I think I’m ready to speak.  Still, writing is the channel through with my brain can make sense.

How does your writing process work?

And this is the hard one.  It requires me to either create and claim a process or be totally honest and say that I don’t really have one.  In truth, the processes are different depending on what I’m writing.

Poetry: Usually written quickly, on the fly, rarely taking even a full day.  This month, they’ve almost all been written between 10pm and midnight so I could get them posted before the end of the day.  A few were given a little more time.  A few, at the beginning of the month, were written while I was at a conference and should have been paying attention to presenters at a workshop.  With poems that had rhyme schemes, I tried to give myself more time because rhyming takes more time, but still no more than a few hours.  (Please do not think I’m bragging!  I fully acknowledge that any of my poems could have benefited from more time and attention.)

Comics: My process for the comics is still a little backward, but there is definitely a process. The mini-comic class I took last year was with Dane Lachiusa. It was a great class for me, but I wasn’t a great student. Dane would tell us things about process that of course made sense because he a) knew what he was talking about and b) was actually a comics artist and c) had lots of experience.  I would listen to him and immediately dismiss whatever he said because a) I am a lousy student, b) I can be exceedingly arrogant, and c) I figured I already knew how to tell a story, that I didn’t really need to rethink my storytelling “just” to convert my stories to comics.  Right. In each case, I would run off in my own direction, only to realize (of course!) that Dane had been absolutely right and that I needed to start over his way if I was going to make any kind of progress.

So, process is still messy for me with comics.  I have ideas for each story first (I’ve generated a dauntingly-long list of stories for Adventures, one I have a hard time imagining how I’ll tackle, one that makes it that much more clear to me why I need to get to VONA this summer and get some more learning under my belt!).  The next step is supposed to be mapping out the images for the story, and I’ve started to be that person who will actually go to the mapping out first and not start writing text.  I’m not a full convert, but I’m on the way.  I’ll do a very messy, barely-even-stick-figured sketch to give myself an idea of what I want to draw and how I’ll draw it.  next I make a much more careful sketch of the panels in which I start writing the story (or start revising the story I have stubbornly already gone ahead and written before I started the sketches).  And finally, I draw each panel carefully and use a ruler to keep my text lines neat.  The final drawings are done over-sized, at 150% of their normal size — the big size makes it easier to include details and to keep text neat and clear.  If I could do things like make shade and add color, the larger size would make that easier, too.  Maybe one day.  And all of that is a description of the process of making a comic, but it’s also part of the creation of the story for me because I’m still organizing and tweaking and finding a better way to show or tell something in each step.  Once I have all the panels drawn, I scan them individually, and then assemble them in a word document and start printing my little booklets.  There are probably shorter ways to get the job done, but this is the way Dane taught me, and I like it.

Fiction: There is little in the way of process connected to my story-writing.  In 2012 I took a wonderful online class with the amazing Minal Hajratwala. Minal is a great, great teacher — generous in her instruction and critique and full of wonderful exercises that get you thinking and writing.  In my case, her exercises also led me to a few serious revelations about my seeming disdain for process when it comes to my fiction.  I have begun, in small ways, to incorporate some of her lessons into my work, but I am still a long way off from having a real process.  As most of the fiction I’ve been writing lately has been super-short, I’ve gotten a bit lazy about using Minal’s lessons, writing my stories as quickly as I write my April poems.  So, process?  Not so much, but it’s something I’m working on.

Non-Fiction: I think my process for non-fiction is cleaner than my fiction process … or, at least it exists.  If I’m not writing memoir, I am usually inspired by something that has either pissed me off or terrified me or roused some other emotion to such a level that I am compelled to write. What that means is I’m known to write more than my share of angry, angry screeds.  I’m actually okay with that.  At first, I thought I should censor myself a little — especially after I lost a handful of readers early on when I posted my first angry piece about race.  Losing readers surprised me, but I pretty quickly realized a) I can’t let that govern what or how I write, and b) I’m probably never going to have a big audience, so I may as well please myself.  So I write my angry screeds when I need to, and I stand by them.  When I was teaching, I wrote a lot about my teaching and about my students.  I also write a lot of memoir — mostly travel stories, but a few others as well.  With non-fiction, I’m much more able to throw all my ideas on the page quickly.  When I need to do research, I can do it fairly easily and get back to the work … and then I’m done and can settle into the revision — my favorite part.

And at last: REVISION!!  I wish I could decorate that with hearts and flowers.  It is truly my favorite part.  I love all the parts of writing, but this has always been the place where I’m happiest, where I get to stroke and stretch and test out words and sounds and see what makes the most sense in my piece.  The two main components of my revision process are 1) making recordings of the piece, 2) cutting as much as possible.  I like to record the story or essay and listen to it the next day (or a few hours later if I’m in a hurry).  Like most people, I don’t love the sound of my recorded voice, but I’ve learned to get around that.  I think of my work as written to be heard, so I have to listen to it to hear the places that don’t work, that don’t make sense.  When I don’t record, I still read out loud to listen for the missteps.  And — finally getting to the point of this post’s title — I like cutting.  You can’t tell it from the crazy-long length of this post, but you can tell it from some of the stories I’ve posted.  I like to cut and cut and cut until I get them down to something like the bare bones.  I don’t always leave them so bare, but I like to get them to that place. Think Kawabata’s Palm-of-the-Hand Stories. That’s what I aspire to.

Talk about miles to go before I sleep!

_________

Wow.  Did that ever go on way longer than I’d imagined it would.  And yet there’s still more!  Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “settled” poem.  This is another prompt that isn’t really speaking to me.  And maybe that’s because I rarely feel settled … or sometimes feel so settled I’m stuck.

I
like to
wear glitter –
gold dust sprinkled
over cheeks and eyes.
Gold
settling
in my hair,
wafting in my
wake. Gold and still more
gold.
My friends
laugh, dismiss.
But I know best,
give myself over.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received almost half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Larger than Life

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a monster poem, as in monsters, not as in a gigantic poem, and hopefully not as in a monstrous poem.  No matter which, it’s still challenging to think of.  Meanwhile, it’s almost the end of April, and my month of Aruns will be coming to an end.  I think this has been the easiest month of poems for me in all the years I’ve taken this challenge, and that is surely because I haven’t been beating myself up about not being a poet.  Crazy that I could have made my work so much more difficult every other year simply because I couldn’t step aside and just let the writing happen.  Ridiculous.  It will be interesting to see if I can magically fall into this calm space next April when I take up the baton again.

Today I stayed in “art day” mode a little longer, enjoying a much-needed writing date with my friend Sonia.  I spent some time on the writing process post I’m scheduled to put up tomorrow and on sketching out the thumbnails of one of the comics I want to submit for my VONA workshop.  And — bonus — I got to catch up with Sonia, drink some excellent pomegranate tea, and have a yummy chickpea salad for lunch.

Then I walked across town to get to my train … and saw how changed that part of Manhattan is, saw the in-process destruction of several buildings I have memories in.  I know change is inevitable, and I know that it can also be good.  But sometimes … sometimes it really isn’t.

Monsters

My
city –
devoured.
By greed, by shiny
metal and glass. New
heights,
new life,
new city …
And left to live
behind the shadows:
poor,
hidden,
lives that don’t count.
Unfashionable.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received almost half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

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An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

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