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Entries tagged "poetry"

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Split This Rock Poem of the Week: OIL

August 11, 2010 ·

A weekly featured poem of provocation and witness. You can find more poetry and arts news from Blog This Rock.

OIL

America, don't we love like oil?

Don't our slippery arms
Pave the pores of those who need us?
Don't we suffocate with our embrace?

Hasn't our sheen of pink slips
And half-hearted hand outs
Sucked the air from blue collared lungs?
Aren't cardboard boxes as porous
As dollar bills?

Don't we infiltrate?
Isn't our heart amorphous?
Aren't we a slow build
And a tight grip?

Don't countless dumb animals
Struggle their way from our grip?
Doesn't Europe's fur still glisten
From the crude of our aid?
Doesn't the Middle East smell like us?

Aren't we just like oil?
Is it any surprise when it leaks from our bowels
Into once pristine oceans
Don't we muddy the waters?

Don't we smear our babies' asses
With petroleum jelly,
Don't we air commercials for coal
On CNN?

Isn't oil us?
Isn't it slippery
But insistently vital,
Isn't it the only black thing
We're not afraid of?

Isn't it us?
Isn't it symbolic how it slips out,
How it once was life,
How we need it,
How it kills us?

Don't we love symbolism?
A great white nation
With no control of dark things,
Dirty things, moving things

Isn't it what we know?
Isn't it what believe in?
Two press conferences too late,
A wellspring of good intentions
Strangling the seascape,
Isn't it angry,
Isn't it unstoppable,
Isn't it us?

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Jody Bolz

July 28, 2010 ·

A weekly featured poem of provocation and witness. You can find more poetry and arts news from Blog This Rock.

Mutanabi Street

 In March 2007, a car bomb exploded in the heart of Baghdad’s centuries-old literary center, igniting bookstores and stationery shops.
                                   

Pages flit above the ruined bookstalls.
Blank or dark with words, it doesn’t matter:

paper is as dangerous as ink — as thought.
And as for the student who was reading

in a dim café, the old men buying envelopes
across the lane, flames turned them to light,

then ash, with chemical indifference.
War tossed a match and stayed to watch

the old block burn — journals, histories,
novels, verse, dictionaries, textbooks,

anatomy primers with charts of the body
like maps of a familiar country — shops on fire

with what’s been written and what hasn’t:
the script in which mercy might repeat itself.

Jody Bolz

Used by permission.

Jody Bolz is the author of A Lesson in Narrative Time. Her poems have appeared widely in literary magazines--The American Scholar, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry East among them--and in many anthologies. She taught creative writing for more than 20 years at George Washington University, and in 2002 became an executive editor of Poet Lore, America's oldest poetry journal, founded in 1889.

Bolz appeared on the panel What Makes for Effective Political Poetry: Editors' Perspectives with Poet Lore co-editor E. Ethelbert Miller during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Jericho Brown

July 1, 2010 ·

A weekly featured poem of provocation and witness. You can find more poetry and arts news from Blog This Rock.

Prayer of the Backhanded

Not the palm, not the pear tree
Switch, not the broomstick,
Nor the closet extension
Cord, not his braided belt, but God,
Bless the back of my daddy’s hand
Which, holding nothing tightly
Against me and not wrapped
In leather, eliminated the air
Between itself and my cheek.
Make full this dimpled cheek
Unworthy of its unfisted print
And forgive my forgetting
The love of a hand
Hungry for reflex, a hand that took
No thought of its target
Like hail from a blind sky,
Involuntary, fast, but brutal
In its bruising. Father, I bear the bridge
Of what might have been
A broken nose. I lift to you
What was a busted lip. Bless
The boy who believes
His best beatings lack
Intention, the mark of the beast.
Bring back to life the son
Who glories in the sin
Of immediacy, calling it love.
God, save the man whose arm
Like an angel’s invisible wing
May fly backward in fury
Whether or not his son stands near.
Help me hold in place my blazing jaw
As I think to say, excuse me.

-Jericho Brown

From Please (New Issues Press 2008). Used by permission.

Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BA from Dillard University. The recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, the Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, and two travel fellowships to the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, Brown teaches creative writing as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of San Diego.  His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, jubilat, New England Review, Oxford American, and several other journals and anthologies.  His first book, PLEASE (New Issues), won the 2009 American Book Award.

Brown appeared on the panels Gay and Lesbian Poetry in the 40th Year Since Stonewall: History, Craft, Equality and Black LGBTQ Writing as Agents of Change during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Tara Betts

June 24, 2010 ·

A weekly featured poem of provocation and witness. You can find more poetry and arts news from Blog This Rock.

Understanding Tina Turner

Quiet girl found a voice mama could not quell
inside Nutbush City Limits. The baby
blasted beyond timid Annie Mae into Tina,
grind of muscle, hip, fierce calves
dominating heels into domesticity.

In the early music video era,
I soaked up her battered denim jacket,
leather mini-skirt, spiked wig and stilettos.
I’d throw my head back like her
rippling antennas of brown hair,
belting to no one in particular,
What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Twenty years later, people joke
about Ike’s fists granting Tina her name,
how she transitioned terror rooted
in spousal rhythm and blues to rock diva,
thunderdome warrior queen
with a mountain mansion overseas.

Hurts twang the womb
then escape into songs—like a man
who never holds you too close, too long,
trying to crush music within.

-Tara Betts

From Arc & Hue (Willow Books 2009). Used by permission.

Tara Betts is the author of Arc and Hue (Aquarius Press/Willow Books, 2009). She teaches at Rutgers University and leads community-based workshops. Her work has been published in Essence, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Callaloo, Gathering Ground and many others.  She is one of the poetry editors for The November 3rd Club, an online journal of political writing.

Betts appeared on the Willow Books Reading panel during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Lori Desrosiers

June 18, 2010 ·

A weekly featured poem of provocation and witness. You can find more poetry and arts news from Blog This Rock.

That Pomegranate Shine

Two brides arise from the river, shivering and shining like pomegranate seeds.
– Words from an Armenian Song

I was the wrong kind of bride,
more sweat than glisten,
more peach than pomegranate.
At twenty-three, in love with marriage,
not the man,
I plunged into rough water,
bringing grandmother’s candlesticks,
mother’s books and two silver trays.
Ten years later, I emerged shivering,
dragging my ragged volumes,
one candlestick and two babies.
On the bank, I shook off the water
and breathed.
Standing with my children,
looking out over the river,
the new brides asked me where
I got that pomegranate shine.

- Lori Desrosiers

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