a good morning-those first real blooms

public art work-Bed-Stuy

This morning was a pretty one–sun shining, warm.  Storefronts on Fulton closed until the shopkeepers open them up.  Folks clustered at bus stops on their way to work.  Many people smiling  because sun was shining and it was warm.

Brooklyn is loudly branded as a place for hip White people and hip Black people and occasionally others are mentioned.  But it is a place for ordinary people who get up in the morning and go to work in banks’ back offices; for the MTA; clerks at Macy’s or Bloomingdales or in the countless restaurants, bars,hotels, sports centers,  juice joints, etc. that make up the “hospitality industry”, and a few work in fashion or media. Paychecks, bills, families,rent or mortgages to pay.  So a warm Wednesday morning was most welcome.  In Whitman’s prologue to Leave of Grass he catalogues jobs Americans do (did) and it is good that he did.  We have a record of those jobs. We have a picture of the people who made their living.  We now do some of what they did: we serve food or perform in theaters or exchange money.

Today, the Poetry Foundation posted my essay in the Harriet blog:      https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2017/04/colloquy-1-words-on-freedom-confusion-resistance-poetry/

and I hope people read my work.  I am glad to  be part of that industrious mix all the way from Brooklyn.

The cold, then warm, then cold weather is making our green and blooming friends most unhappy–they just want to bloom and get on with it and a few hearty blooms are fighting for show and a flowering tree across the street from a row of daffodils –we all want Spring. Even the plants are working hard.

the only tree flowering

corner yard, Bed-Stuy

purple salutes the green

Early December, light leaving, hope coming

Today I asked for prayers for Monica Hand, a wonderful poet who took her obsession  with Nina Simone and produced a wonderful debut collection me and Nina five years ago. She’s been working on a Ph.D the past few years.  She is not the only Black woman artist I know who is facing medical crisis and who has very little money.  We are mortal-a fact that I am reminded of daily as I wake with aches and pains that were not there 30 years ago–but more importantly because I can go into my address books and find people’s names/addresses/numbers who are no longer alive.  It pains me and many of my friends.  We see the generation ahead of us leaving and we are next and we know that.  But then there are the times when someone younger goes–no matter, it’s difficult.  It is sad.

It’s December.  A month of bright chilly days in which the light leaves bit by bit until the Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  It is also the month of Advent.  A month of prophesy and expectation–Oh come expected Jesus is one of the Advent hymns.  Prophesy and expectation are vastly different experiences.  As a poet, I find myself trying to bring these different experiences together–not in harmony, but at least in complement.

And so this past weekend I sat with fellow poets to plan programs that we all think are needed in these awful times.  We know that the best version of America is not expressed right now.  We know that men and a few women of great wealth who are joining the Trump administration have little regard to poor and working people. Most artists are poor, working people.  We know that the light is leaving bit by bit.  That “winter of discontent” is not a cliche this year.  From the marches in the street or the buying and selling of just about everything to imbibing many a spirit (bourbon, rye, whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila) we are all dis contented.  That our friends are ill; that our friends are burying their mothers, their grandmothers makes this December so much more difficult.  We know that little in our national experiment will benefit us over the next few years.

One of things that found interesting about reading John Glenn’s obituary that when he took is cosmic flight, he saw three sunsets and three sunrises.  So it seems great to remember about the Solstice is that once that short day is done, the light begins to return.  The sun will grow brighter even in dark days of January and February.  The light grows.  So I hope, our capacity to love, to live, to be good people despite the political era to come, will grow and shine much light.

lights in December

lights in December

 

Fall 2015 is more than I can handle! NEW BOOK/WORDS SUNDAY

WORDS SUNDAY poster

poster Fall 2015 WORDS SUNDAY poster

But handle I must.  Many readings and events for my new book A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems, starting with Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon on September 20.  Cheryl Boyce-Taylor has asked me to feature at The Glitter Pomegranate new space at the Bedford Y with Gregory Pardlo and Lynne Procope on the 25th.

During that time I will be finishing up The Future Imagined Differently issue of About Place Journal.  It is going to have interesting art, writing, music–it will go live the first week of October.

And starting on October 25, WORDS SUNDAY returns to Calabar Imports Bed-Stuy on Tompkins Avenue which is becoming a nice place to walk about –new bars, restaurants,boutiques, but I miss Mr. Jimmy’s wonderful old fashioned variety store which was hijacked by developers.  Indeed, there has been a lot of developers hijacking of space and time and beauty in this neighborhood-the “new builds” are uniformly boring, bland, sad and they all charge too much.  The mostly young White people who give away considerable chunks of change for these boring, bland buildings are not hipsters or particularly hip they just look sort of generic as a White guy I heard describe a White woman on the train the other day.  I was surprised.  But its 2015 and the ways in which things shape shift are definitely on the unexpected side.  First up:  JP Howard and Nicole Callihan.

WORDS SUNDAY has presented in Bed-Stuy: Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gregory Pardlo; brilliant poet/performers: Janice Lowe, Alexis DeVeaux and Tai Allen. Plus poets: Rachel Levitsky, Michael H. Broder, Terence Degnan, Soraya Shalforoosh; Ekere Talle, Jason Schneiderman,  Jacqueline Jones LaMon, Robin Messing, Renato Rosaldo, LaToya Jordan, R. Erica Doyle, Alan Felsensthal, Jacqueline Johnson and Janet Kaplan.  I love that all of them either currently do or have lived/worked in Brooklyn.

I hope to see all kinds of great people at events I participate in or curate–It is a blessing to make work that people want to read and hear.

And I am deeply pleased to have my work in the great mix of work that is out now.  White Pine Press has done a great job with my book and Sandra Payne’s art work sets the tone.

A Lucent Fire

Cover: A Lucent Fire: New and Selected

 

summer blessings and borders

This is a summer that is truly a summer.  The weather in late June seemed to as beautiful as the world’s activities grew more violent, volatile.  Something says to me the Creator is working overtime to provide humans relief for bad human activity–at the borders of the US and Mexico; Israel and Palestine; Nigeria and Chad–borders where children give them selves up; where children are kidnapped and murdered; where children are kidnapped, sold or murdered.  Borders where evil weaves a ugly web of lies, brutality, fear.  So to wake up for several days to bright sunshine and little humidity in Brooklyn–to roses blooming, birds singing, dogs being walked.  To wake up fairly healthy with things to do; students to teach; people to see; food to eat and wine to drink  is to have many blessings placed upon me.  But all blessings are provisional.  So are the bad human activity. Should we be Iraq? Should we help Nigeria find stolen girls?  Should we reduce our energy use so that fracking, etc. was not so profitable?  or is the phrase: “Could we”?  It is July 4th.  It is rainy and quiet.  My brother is staying home, mowing his backyard; my sister in Arkansas is planning her church work and planning to see friends. My eldest nephew is probably working overtime in a high end hotel in Dallas.  My nephews and nieces are eating barbecue and watching videos. in Texas and Tennessee. We are a small family spread around the U.S.  We are also feeling the loss of my mother who this year last year was still alive. Still engaged in the world of the living, but shutting down.  Later somebody in Bed-Stuy will attempt to show off the illegal fireworks bought most likely in Pennsylvania.  As a Southerner, I understand crossroads. But borders.  Borders are places of deep terror. Borders are where too many children are lost.

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