Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

Of black and white black white black people— Langston Hughes

Daybreak in Alabama
by Langston Hughes

When I get to be a composer
I’m gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I’m gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I’m gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I’m gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

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April 24, 2011

Bagel Bard Tino Villanueva in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature

The BBs are my favorite poerty group so it’s good to report that Bagel Bard Tino Villanueva has been included in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Here’s one of his poems in English, the orginal is, of course, in Spanish. The Bagel Bard Website.

I PICTURED A PAGE

I pictured a page–a blank white presence,
pure opposite of life,
since life bursts forth.
It brings on its rituals, come calm or storm,
and instantly: it’s unerasable.

The page was real; I held it
in my two hands: white-page-utterly-white,
its utter whiteness unfathomable–
higher logic of a stuff that above all
demands the vital coloring of life
and of all that’s been lived.

It was night; I just couldn’t go on,
but still, I couldn’t stop. Gazing and dazed,
I reached toward the immense ocean-wide
of the white. I scratched scant words
across the blank white-washed: mineral white.
Page white.

In the beginning there was a page;
and on the page, a memory,
and memory turned to words–
what gets forgotten, then comes back,
what’s been mine, forever and without end,
what, when it ends, ends up being what I write.

Original in Spanish: “Imaginé un papel” from Primera causa / First Cause/
Merrick: Cross-Cultural Communications, 1999). ©1999 by Tino Villanueva

April 23, 2011

A Gold and White Spring

A Gold and White Spring

There is gold like that
there is white like that—
Are they far from the nightmares in grays,
Are they far from here?
If someone holds them for us
they are never gone far
only one world away
only one call away—
I need those colors now,
may I please borrow your eyes?

Eyes from California


Photo by Anne Abrams

April 20, 2011

Agent, Molly Friedrich, from Poets & Writers

Here’s an excellent interview from Poets & Writers with the agent, Molly Friedrich. It’s an in-depth view of the world from one of the best agents in the publishing business. Enjoy.

April 18, 2011

Kay Ryan wins the Pulitzer for her poetry

Just because she won the award, it doesn’t mean she isn’t a fine poet. She won the Pulitzer for “The Best of It: New and Selected Poems.” This is one of her poems:

THINGS SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small —
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.

“Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard” from The Niagara River by Kay Ryan, Copyright © 2005 by Kay Ryan. Used by permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

April 10, 2011

How to learn to learn to write

Two Girls Invent a Spring Day
(for Charlotte)

A mommy, a doggie, a soccer ball, and two three-year-old girls.
One kicks it to the other and she runs away as if chased by it.
One kicks it to her again and she jumps over it twice as it rolls.
The other, tired, says new rule: kick it to yourself so I can sit.
New rule: I kick the ball to the doggie and I sit, too.
New rule: you stand on your head. I stand on my head.
New rule: the doggie should stand on his head.
Look at the doggie and giggle. Look at the sky and giggle.
New rule: when the doggie runs away, I kick the ball at him.
New rule: you have to giggle when you run.
Uh-oh, Mommy calls. Kick the ball to the far corner so
she has to run after it. Laugh at Mommy as she kicks the ball.
Kick it back to the corner again. Laugh at Mommy again.

If I could imaginate like these girls, I wouldn’t
have to walk across a park to a library
to get a book full of it: I’d kick a ball. I’d run.
I’d stand on my head. And I would laugh at Mommy.

April 9, 2011

The Loneliness of a Long-Distance Novelist

Is there a lonelier task on earth than writing novels? On days when the reality I’ve invented no longer serves to fill the space in my life, I feel more than empty. And other times, compared to my imagined characters, real friends and lovers sometimes appear pale. I hung out today with four people of excellent accomplishment, talents, and wit, yet I found myself habitually going home alone and being all right with that. I often feel that only the famous and dead writers I’ve read understand how I feel, yet they are no longer a comfort to me now that I inhabit a world of my own words. Their worlds are now places in which I can no longer live, only visit. I get the impression I’ve dreamed myself into a life others envy, yet they understand only the slightest amount about the solitary place into which it exiles me. It is a weak joke to me that my main characters so often find themselves alienated and desperate to throw themselves into the life of others, yet fail to do so successfully. Perhaps that alienation is the fuel that drives me to create new work after new work. How pale is that?

April 6, 2011

From Tesora: Ronan’s Puerto Rico fishing boat

This is the boat Ronan buys to flee Las Croabas after he is threatened by thieves. It’s seaworthy enough to sail along a coastline, but not enough to survive a storm at sea.

April 3, 2011

Sculptural Art or Photo from Anne Abrams

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