Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Slice of Creativity

I love having crafty friends!

Jenn at The Daily Rind created this great handmade wooden sign for me. I’m in the process of finding the right spot for it but I may use the sign as the focal point for my writing area.

Her business, Watermelon Rind Designs offers “a slice of creativity” with personalized signs, seasonal gifts, and lots of ideas to get the creativity flowing.

She also gave me one of her Creativity Packs. How cool is this?

All of these ideas are waiting for me. I’ve always wanted to create a mixed media project with my poetry and objects to add a different perspective to my work.

Go say hello to Jenn on her blog, and check out Watermelon Rind Designs.

Jenn, you ROCK!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Family Affair

Sometimes you have to let go of the oars and just drift. That’s what I did when my family and I vacationed with my husband’s very large, very fun family last week.

It felt weird not blogging. I mean, I had conversations with adults other than my husband, which is something of a lost art when I get into a writer’s groove. I carried my laptop with me yet I resisted the urge to post on other blogs. The biggest thing I did not do, you ask? I didn’t write a poem for Poetry Thursday, which is the first time I think I haven’t posted anything since I became a regular participant.

Instead, my family and I went on day trips to beaches and lakes; watched a lot of Red Sox baseball; ate lots of extravagant, home-cooked meals; and topped off the evenings with ice cream from the corner store. It was fabulous!

My favorite part, however, was sitting back and watching the kids play with their cousins. It was fun to see them comfortable enough with themselves to play with other family members, or just play by themselves. I enjoyed watching them have the space to just be. My son and daughter really enjoyed their unstructured days. I wish I could give them more free time, but our days have a certain hum to them. Without a routine, nothing gets done and no one is happy. So this week away was precious respite for all of us.

So now my nose is back to the grindstone (what an odd expression!). As for the writing, it will come and I will let it. And the poems—they will come, too. I plan to wring every poem I can out of summer’s sweet, sweet air.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Phenomenon

Like many folks, I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of celebrity gossip. Who wasn’t shocked to see Lindsay Lohan in trouble again just a few days after leaving rehab? Yes, I checked out TMZ to see Britney Spears’ shaved head the second I heard about it—and to see the multiple wigs she has used since returning to public life. And the Michael Vick-dog fighting story … well, that just defies explanation.

Back in the day, the motion picture studio used gossip columnists by leaking stories to the press, which became an extremely effective publicity tool. Most actors were contractually obligated to share every aspect of their lives as movie stars. And if an actor was on the outs with the studio heads, you can bet the public heard rumors about an actor’s drug problems, alcoholism, and sexual preferences. Doesn’t seem too different from what we’re seeing today.

In this day and age, I’m not sure why celebrities choose to reveal so much. If you’re a B-list actor or celebutaunt, I guess having your stint in rehab splashed everywhere from People magazine to CNN.com keeps you name circulating, but for all the wrong reasons. I would be less inclined to care if I didn’t see so much of it. Sure, I can turn off the TV or read a good book, but information travels so fast and by so many methods that it’s hard to avoid. I mean, I could get celebrity gossip on my cell phone if I choose. (I don’t.)

I am captivated by celebrity news that makes me stop and say, “Really? Did that just happen?” There is something grotesque in reveling in a movie star’s downfall or a politician’s romantic tryst revealed for all to see. On a basic level, I really have a problem with people who seem to have it all yet throw it all away when so many others are struggling for their opportunity to shine. But the reality is, I enjoy watching these train wrecks. And yes, I admit, I am part of the problem instead of the solution.

For more phenomena, visit Sunday Scribblings.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Poet Mom in Springfield

Yes, I'm still on vacation, but I had to post my Simpsons avatar. Hope you're having a great week!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Taking a Little Vay-Cay!

Taking a break. Stepping back. Sleeping in. Eating out. Eating in. Sharing stories. Learning to swim. Learning to fly. Eating ice cream. Playing with the kids. Being a kid again. Fishing off the dock. Crabbing for blue crabs. Visiting Block Island. Taking lots of pictures. Writing a few poems. Kissing--lots of kissing. And hugs, let's not forget the hugs. May miss Sunday Scribblings. Won't miss Poetry Thursday. Love to stay but I must be going. Be back soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Oh happy day, it's Poetry Thursday! My new favorite day of the week!

Work has been crazy and has sapped all of my creative energy. Haven't been able to get into a flow all week. Fortunately, I have a vacation right around the corner so there is definitely a light at the end my of tunnel.


Also, I should mention that artist and poet Sekou Sundiata has passed away. He was a friend to Cave Canem and the Dodge Poetry Festival, and he was just so damn talented it was hard not to listen. If you scroll down to Tuesday's post, you can watch him perform one of his best known works. Sekou will be missed.

When a poet passes on, the world just seems that much smaller.


Last week's Sunday Scribblings post on "hair" prompted me to post this old poem on the topic. It's a sentimental favorite of mine, written about my mom and me long ago.

Looking forward to reading your poems this week.


Dipping my head under the hot-cold water
of the kitchen sink
I feel her hand, her wedding ring lightly rubbing my head
slowly, not to cause burning, yet my scalp starts to feel
like angry ants stamping formation
Afternoon whittles itself into evening
as my mother opens the window to
the bruise-colored sky
We open to a moment of permanent,
neutralizing shampoo, and perm strengthener
This is my last night home
I am learning how to do this,
the opening and closing of her fingers on top of my
fingers shampooing
our hands turning into prunes
She tells me to be careful in my new life,
she says, the ones in your generation are always burning
rinse, towel off
Her hands are on my head
If there is too much air close the window
rinse again

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sekou Sundiata

Get better soon, Sekou!

Here he is performing his poem “Come on with the Reparations.” on Def Poetry Jam.

Dream Job

Next to U.S. Poet Laureate, this could be fun.

Curator of Poetry, George Edward Woodberry Poetry Room
Harvard University,Cambridge, Massachusetts
Salary: Not Specified
Status: Full-time
Posted: 07/16/07

Curator of Poetry, George Edward Woodberry Poetry Room

Duties And Responsibilities: The Curator has primary responsibility for acquisition/preservation/access and use of collection that consists of approximately 15,000 monographs, 12,000 audio recordings, 500 video recordings, 200 periodical titles, 50 linear ft. of manuscript material, 200 broadsides, as well as ephemera, artwork and realia pertaining to contemporary poetry and poetics from entire English-speaking world, as well as poetic works in other languages translated into English; Serves as HCL’s principal liaison w/students, faculty, visiting scholars; Manages collections; in consultation w/Associate Librarian, establishes annual/long-range goals/priorities; supervises staff; manages departmental budget; supervises projects relating to collection; Develops collection through purchases/gifts; Promotes/provides access to collection through digitization; website enhancement; and public programs; Provides knowledgeable reference service to students/faculty/visiting researchers; handles requests for permission to copy/use materials; Recommends conservation/preservation measures/ priorities; Participates in developing HCL’s special collections of contemporary poetry.

Required Education, Experience and Skills BASIC REQUIREMENTS: BA and MLS or equiv.; Substantial/critical knowledge of contemporary poetry and poetics from the English-speaking world; Familiarity w/digital technology in conversion of collections/recordings; Min 3 yrs library and/or archival work exp; Basic knowledge of library systems/catalogs; standards word processing, database and spreadsheet software;

OTHER QUALIFICATIONS: M.A. or other advanced degree in English or American Literature strongly pref; Digital audio workstation experience strongly pref; Strong written/oral communication skills; supervisory/project management skills; ability to work collaboratively w/wide variety of people, especially faculty/students; Exp operating analog/digital audio recording/editing/ playback equipment strongly pref; Ability to lift 40 lbs.

Please submit a cover letter and resume to: http://jobs.harvard.edu/jobs/summ_req?in_post_id=34533 Requisition #30720 Harvard University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Hey, I can lift 40lbs!

This comes from the ALA Job List. Thanks Jilly.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Notes from the Garage Sale

This past Saturday, we had our first garage sale in our current house. We’ve lived there for four years and were surprised at how much stuff we had accumulated in that time. Here are a few musings from the day.

I had heard how bargain hunters move from sale to sale, meeting up, greeting each other by name. Well, it’s all true. The early birds work together in teams. They call each other up and plan out the day around sales in surrounding neighborhoods. I didn't know it was so organized.

We didn’t list an ad in the newspaper, but did hang many neon yellow flyers in our neighborhood. But I’d say that 40 percent of our sales came from folks who saw our posting on Craigslist.org.

Didn’t realize how early some people show up to these things. Officially, we started at 8 a.m. but those early birds were there at 7:30.

The first people who showed up spoke to my husband, Tim, about the junk we were putting out. They were looking for computer equipment even though we didn’t advertise PCs or PDAs. Tim says they were gypsies looking for hard drives to steal personal information.

While the sale went from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., it was “over” after 11:30. All of the bargain hunters were out in the early morning. After noon, it was a slow, painful trickle of people showing up.

It was hot on Saturday, so we kept the kids busy with crayons, and let then take a dip in the kiddy pool. Coloring turned out to be a great distraction for kids while their parents needed a few more minutes to look around.

All in all, we were very pleased with how much stuff we sold. And this week, one of our local charities will swing by the house to pick up what didn’t sell. So I guess that old adage is true—one man’s dusty, forgotten, outdated junk is another man’s treasure!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Hair

I’ve tried many different hairstyles through the years: braids, wraps, weaves (loved my weave!), afro puffs, straightening combs, roller sets—you name it, I’ve tried it. But I’ve always come back to the relaxer.

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always “relaxed” my hair. For those who don’t know, a relaxer is the opposite of a perm. So a relaxer is a chemical treatment that straightens hair, as opposed to a permanent, or perm, that adds curls. My hair is naturally coarser than other types, so it takes a lot more maintenance than other hair styles.

I grew up in the South, in the age of the relaxer. My mom, aunts, and grandmothers were not much for nappy hair or natural looks, so we did anything we could to survive the heat and humidity. Honestly, I have longed to be able to wake up in the morning, brush my hair, and go. But I like the look and variety of styles I can achieve with relaxed hair. It takes time, but I feel it’s worth it.

I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn, but while all women care deeply about their hair, for black women, it is our crowning glory. Whether it’s true or not, a lot of us believe our hair relates to how we are first perceived in the world. Much of my self-worth is attached to my hair, maybe because I spend a lot of time and money to tame it. A bad hair day is on a whole ’nother level in my world! If I were a braver woman, I’d show you by taking a picture of myself this morning with bed head—not gonna happen!

A friend of mine gave me the children’s book Happy to Be Nappy by bell hooks, to show my daughter and son the range of black hair styles available to us. Their hair is much different that mine because they are biracial and the texture is much finer than mine. But however they decide to treat their hair, I’ll help them understand the range of choices they have in caring for their own distinctive, beautiful crowns of glory.
For more hair-raising stories, visit Sunday Scribblings.

Friday, July 13, 2007

12-Bar Blues

Now that I have kids, I find that time flies quicker that ever! Can you believe it's July? Friday the 13th, no less.

Last week I had an ice cream social—tomorrow I’m having a garage sale. I think my industriousness this month is an attempt to make up for being a couch potato all those years BC (before kids!). Fortunately, I’m going on vacation in a few weeks so I’ll have a chance to rest and relax with family for a few days.

In the meantime, these are the poetry-related tasks I hope to do before vacation.

  1. Mini-NaPoWriMo: Hope to write three poems in three days. One of the poems somehow will pick up the 12-bar blues musical progression heard in so many early rock and roll songs. I’m excited to write this one.
  2. Finish McSweeney’s book of poems and write a review
  3. Send poems to two publications (I don’t do this nearly as much as I should, even though I add it to my lists without fail)
  4. Plan fall reading series dates

So what’s on your to-do list?

Also, if you live on the North Shore of Massachusetts and would like my address for tomorrow’s garage sale, send me an e-mail at jgill27494@aol.com.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Poetry Thursday

Happy Poetry Thursday!

I wanted to write something new for today, but alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, I give you this poem from Thomas Lux, which has stayed with me ever since I heard him read it as part of the Poetry Foundation's podcast series. It sums up how I've been feeling lately, especially the line "We do this, they do that," on the futility of war.

Looking forward to reading your words this week.

The People of the Other Village

hate the people of this village
and would nail our hats
to our heads for refusing in their presence to remove them
or staple our hands to our foreheads
for refusing to salute them
if we did not hurt them first: mail them packages of rats,
mix their flour at night with broken glass.
We do this, they do that.
They peel the larynx from one of our brothers’ throats.
We devein one of their sisters.
The quicksand pits they built were good.
Our amputation teams were better.
We trained some birds to steal their wheat.
They sent to us exploding ambassadors of peace.
They do this, we do that.
We canceled our sheep imports.
They no longer bought our blankets.
We mocked their greatest poet
and when that had no effect
we parodied the way they dance
which did cause pain, so they, in turn, said our God
was leprous, hairless.
We do this, they do that.
Ten thousand (10,000) years, ten thousand
(10,000) brutal, beautiful years.

~Thomas Lux

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ice Cream in the 'Hood

Because I don't really know my neighbors.

Because it's time to find neighborhood kids for my little ones to play with.

Because I want to wring as much fun out of summer as I can ...

I threw an ice cream social this past Sunday. Was so busy serving guests that I took hardly any photos. Drat!

About 15 adults and 10 kids came for a one-hour party in our front yard. I kept it spontaneous by just handing out flyers up and down my street the day before. The whole event, even the prep, was a hoot!

Alex had 3 cones while Ella enjoyed the sprinkles more than her scoop of chocolate.

Things to remember when throwing an ice cream social:

*keep ice cream on ice! It was soup by the end of the party.

*Also, have plenty of wipes for the kids available.

*And water. Don’t forget to offer water—I didn’t have any plastic cups to serve any. Oops!

It was a great way to meet the neighbors and their kids. And the ones who did not attend now know who we are. Maybe someone else on our street will plan a neighborhood activity and invite us!

I'm all about community, you know!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gitmo Poetry

Last week I listened to the Poetry Foundation's podcast of a new book called Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, edited by Marc Falkoff.

Most of the poems have been scrubbed and analyzed by U.S. attorneys and officials for terrorist messages hidden in the verse. But I was so moved by the podcast that I searched online for more information on the book, to be published by August 15 by the University of Iowa Press.

In addition to the Poetry Foundation's audio interview (podcast is on the homepage), you can listen the NPR story, or read about the new book at The Independent or Wall Street Journal.

Here's one of the poems from NPR's Web site:

Humiliated in the Shackles

When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees,
Hot tears covered my face.
When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed
A message for my son.
Mohammad, I am afflicted.
In my despair, I have no one but Allah for comfort.
The oppressors are playing with me,
As they move freely around the world.
They ask me to spy on my countrymen,
Claiming it would be a good deed.
They offer me money and land,
And freedom to go where I please.
Their temptations seize
My attention like lightning in the sky.
But their gift is an empty snake,
Carrying hypocrisy in its mouth like venom,
They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them that
Architecture is not justice.
America, you ride on the backs of orphans,
And terrorize them daily.
Bush, beware.
The world recognizes an arrogant liar.
To Allah I direct my grievance and my tears.
I am homesick and oppressed.
Mohammad, do not forget me.
Support the cause of your father, a God-fearing man.
I was humiliated in the shackles.
How can I now compose verses? How can I now write?
After the shackles and the nights and the suffering and the tears,
How can I write poetry?
My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish,
Violent with passion.
I am a captive, but the crimes are my captors'.
I am overwhelmed with apprehension.
Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.
Lord, grant success to the righteous.
— Sami al Haj

Copyright © University of Iowa Press.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Slippery

From Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary:

Pronunciation: 'sli-p(&-)rE
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): slip·per·i·er; -est

Etymology: alteration of Middle English slipper
1 a : causing or tending to cause something to slide or fall b : tending to slip from the grasp
2 a : not firmly fixed : UNSTABLE b : not precise or fixed in meaning : AMBIGUOUS, ELUSIVE

3 : not to be trusted : TRICKY - slip·per·i·ness noun

This prompt is a bit of a stretch, but the first thing to come to mind was soap operas and all of those slippery, unstable, elusive, dubious characters on daytime TV.

Now, I’m a big fan of soap operas, specifically As the World Turns on CBS. In fact, I download podcasts so I can catch up on them on my long commutes to and from work. (And I just found out that you can watch episodes online, which I will be doing after I post this entry.)What amazes me most about soaps is that they are built around slippery, seedy characters.

Currently, Dusty slept with Emily’s sister Alison, but won’t tell her because he doesn’t want to sabotage their relationship. And Meg married Craig, even though she loves Paul, so that she can get even for the pain and suffering Craig has inflicted on her family. Paul, by the way, slid off a cliff to his supposed soap opera death (read: Paul’s working on Broadway—he’ll be back.) Faith, a pre-teen, has an eating disorder. Emily was a hooker but a short stint. Carly just came back after being on the lamb, but she’s been cleared of all charges. Can you imagine having to keep all of those lies straight in real life?

I know these slippery plot lines generate conflict, and by definition soap opera characters have broken moral compasses, but I’m always wondering why they don’t just fess up and occasionally tell the truth!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Woo hoo! It's Poetry Thursday again.

This week is the first time since the end of NaPoWriMo that I feel my creativity coming back. Being so drained was something I never anticipated. In any case, I have a few poems in the queue so I am a happy camper right about now.

Needless to say, this one is new. Still need work but good enough to post.

Cross Your Fingers

This is enough for now, his hand in mine,
his middle finger crossing the index—

a giggle at the body’s minor contortion
and the chance to learn something new.

He doesn’t understand how often
we lay our hopes on this X,

curling a wish inside our hands.
It’s more than a barefoot afternoon,

or the wildflowers bordering our fence
with all of their cautious pinks and yellows.

Oh, how pretty, he says
I hear how brilliant, how beautiful

crossing his fingers in affirmation,
in faith, because sometimes

he does what he doesn’t understand.
He needs all the luck he can get.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, SB!

39 Reasons Why I Love Tim O'Neil
  1. These kids!
  2. Because you were born on July 4, you grew up thinking that the fireworks were for you year after year
  3. Because you think about solutions rather than problems
  4. Because you have more patience that anyone I know
  5. Because of your good morning kisses. Your goodnight kisses. And all the kisses in between
  6. Because you make up songs for just about every mundane thing, like making coffee
  7. Because you rub your feet together when you're trying to fall asleep
  8. Because you're brave enough to own your own successful business
  9. Because you like family picnics in the park
  10. Because you like to camp outside with Alex (better you than me--nature and I don't get along so well)
  11. Because you taught Ella how to say Daisuke (pronounced Dice-K), which has now become her nickname around the house
  12. Because you bring me hot tea with lemon at night before we call it a night
  13. Because you consistently go to the gym. You look as handsome as when we first met.
  14. Because I know that one day very soon you'll take me dancing (Hint! Hint!)
  15. Because you really liked my fried chicken last night
  16. Because you read to the kids almost every night, even when you don't want to
  17. Because you spend an incredible amount of time with the kids
  18. Because when the going gets tough, you stick around to see what happens next
  19. Because you love the Red Sox as much as I do
  20. Because you're good at so many different things, and you're not afraid to try anything
  21. Because you understand how important it to live debt free
  22. Because you're close to your mother, brothers and sisters
  23. Because you're close to my parents
  24. Because you know that taking personal time a way of maintaining our relationship
  25. Because you like to kayak
  26. Because you rub my back when I need it, and even when I don't
  27. Because you don't mind that I blog in bed
  28. Because you are the love of my life
  29. Because you enjoy learning
  30. Because you believe in saving the environment
  31. Because you support my dreams of becoming a writer
  32. Because you still read the daily newspaper from cover to cover
  33. Because you keep a picture of your father on your nightstand
  34. Because you laugh at your lame jokes (sorry, they'e so LAME!)
  35. Because you still really like being married
  36. Because we're best friends
  37. Because you still make my toes curl
  38. Because you're a great father
  39. Because we're partners

I love you , SB!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Can you name all the countries in Africa? If you live outside of the United States, you’d probably could. Shamefully, I can’t.

This past weekend, I went to a swanky get-together at Boston Erin’s house. We started talking about board games, and apparently there’s a German game that is a train trek across the United States. We thought it was an innovative way to teach people about U.S. geography. But then the conversation turned to how little we know about other countries, and so little about our own. I’m sure there are those not born in America that can plot a trip from New York to California, but if I had to explain how to get from Düsseldorf to Berlin I would be out of luck.

Then Africa came up as a topic, which seems to be a reoccurring topic in my conversations lately. Same thing—our little party group was hard pressed to name even a few African nations. And at work yesterday, again, it became a difficult question to answer for my well-educated coworkers. We just don’t know enough about other countries.

More signs in front of me: Last night, I attempted the Country Poetry Meme, focusing on Libya. Once again, the truth hurts. It was painfully obvious how little I knew about life outside the U.S. borders. All of this culminated with the realization that a few days ago I bought the latest Vanity Fair magazine co-edited by Bono—the Africa issue. I can’t ignore all of these signs. (FYI--20 different covers. I have the Oprah/George Clooney issue.)

So I’m using my Vanity Fair as entry into learning more about this vast, beautiful continent. I do so shamefully, because I’m using a magazine to learn geography. But this is just the entry point. As a nation, U.S. kids really don’t know that much about things outside of their own experiences. Not sure how we expect to be a relevant nation in the future the net generation can’t keep up in a global economy. So one day, I hope to be the entry point for my children to teach them about life and experiences outside of our borders. Maybe we’ll even travel abroad to immerse ourselves in another culture--something I hadn't really thought about until now.

In the meantime, I’ll settle for a few world literature recommendations. Who should I add to my reading list?

Country Poetry Meme

I don’t believe in tagging or being tagged for memes, but I’m not opposed to a self-tag every once in a while! This comes from Gautami’s blog.

The Rules:
Take a country whose name begins with the last letter of your surname. (a) Jane Doe would take Ecuador, for example, or Egypt. England (like the USA and Ireland) does not qualify. Wole Soyinka would take Angola, or Afghanistan. If you cannot find a country with that letter (and only then), move back a step. (b) Jane Doe would take Oman, in that case. As for Wole Soyinka, he would go for Kazakhstan, or Korea. And so on.

Here we go!

As my last name is O’Neil, Libya came to mind for some reason. Maybe you thought, “Jan, what about Latvia?” “What about Liechtenstein?” Sorry. We’re going with Libya.

1. Tell us about the capital city of the country you chose.

(From Wikipedia) Libya is a country in North Africa. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Libya lies between Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa by area, and the 17th largest in the world. The city of Tripoli is the capital.

2. How many inhabitants that country has?

Tripoli, the capital, is home to 1.7 million of Libya’s 5.7 million people.

3. Find and share with us a poem in English of not more than 20 lines from
that country. If it's longer; cut it to twenty lines or less.

I’ll admit, I was looking for Libyan poetry and I got paranoid the secret police (aka Homeland Security) was going to swoop in and take my laptop. It could still happen. *sigh* Damn the Patriot Act!

But to my great relief, I found this poet through Web Del Sol’s Web site.

Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya where he had his primary education. In 1979 he immigrated to the United States. He lived in the South for many years, finishing high school in Louisiana and earning bachelors degrees in political science and economics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He went on to earn an MA in English and an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University where he taught creative writing and won an Academy of American Poets award. A professor of English and Creative Writing at California State University, Northridge, he has published poems in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Crazyhorse, New England Review, Callaloo, Poetry East, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Iowa Review, Black Warrior
and The Pushcart Prize anthology. He was awarded the Alfred Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University for 1995-96.

Screw the 20 lines—this is a great poem:


My lips came with a caravan of slaves
That belonged to the Grand Sanussi.
In Al-Jaghbub he freed them.
They still live in the poor section of Benghazi
Near the hospital where I was born.
They never meant to settle
In Tokara those Greeks
Whose eyebrows I wear
--then they smelled the wild sage
And declared my country their birthplace.
The Knights of St. John invaded Tripoli.
The residents of the city
Sought help from Istanbul. In 1531
The Turks brought along my nose.
My hair stretches back
To a concubine of Septimus Severus.
She made his breakfast,
Bore four of his sons.
Uqba took my city
In the name of God.
We sit by his grave
And I sing to you:
Sweet lashes, arrow-sharp,
Is that my face I see
Reflected in your eyes?

4. Tell us something you particularly like about the poem you have chosen:

The metaphors are a history of Mattawa’s birthplace. And I can relate to the idea of a people being displaced. It’s just a beautiful poem.

5. Add a line anywhere in the poem (beginning, middle or end), and clearly show which line is yours to avoid confusion and/or ambiguity.

I’m going to decline this part of the meme because I think it’s perfect as is. Besides, I wouldn’t want someone messing with one of my poems for a meme.

I have to say that this is probably the best meme I’ve done because it really stretched me to think about poetry, and it shines a bright light on how little I know about world literature and geography in general.

Tag yourselves and try this poetry meme.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: What’s Your Sign?

Age of Aquarius

When I think about the question, “What’s your sign?,” I think about every 70s sitcom with a laugh track and a bar scene, like Three’s Company or One Day at a Time. The dialogue goes something like this:

Man in bell bottoms and superfly hat: "What’s Your Sign, baby?"

Woman with disco hair at cheesy bar: "Stop sign, baby!" (cue sitcom

Man: "Later, sweet thang."

Woman: "Later, jive turkey!"

But I digress.

I'm an Aquarian, through and through. I love that we Aquarians have our own song, “Age of Aquarius,” by The Fifth Dimension.

Here’s the video featured at the end of The 40-Year Old Virgin, with Steve Carell and co.

Aquarius, the water bearer, is associated with the constellation of the same name. According to Wikipedia:

Individuals born under this sign are popularly thought to have a modest, creative, challenging, inquisitive, entertaining, progressive, stimulating, nocturnal, and independent character, but one which is also prone to rebelliousness, coldness, erraticism, indecisiveness, and impracticality.

All true, except that I haven’t been nocturnal since B.C. (before children), and impracticality is not in my nature. Maybe I have some other moon rising in my seventh house or something. Oh, and they left out fickle. I have no problem changing my mind on the spur of the moment.

I’ve never paid much attention to star signs, but it sure is fun to occasionally read about Aquarians in the newspaper. I'm always matching up the day's events to what has been predicted for me. And then I think, "How do they know?" (Hee hee hee!)

OK, baby, so what’s your sign?


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