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July 2011

Enough


    The wall is covered with thorns, Sleeping Beauty's living thorns that resist a prince who shoves his right hand deep into them, intent on unlocking the legend-woman that is his purpose, his life's blood, his reason for being. Sometimes he doesn't know why or even if he's here, and he wanders from battle to battle wondering to himself, " How do I know I'm real? How can I be sure? Is it enough that I ask for water and my squire responds, that I strike with my sword and men fall and die? What if it's all a ruse, an elaborate fake to trick me into believing that I am? But doesn't that mean that I am?"
    He picks up his sword once more and strikes at the thorns that tear through the armor on his arms and chest. So he swings at the dragon that was once a loving god mother, pushes through the bramble, ignoring the heat of her flame. He pushes through the smoke and sulfur that burn his mouth and eyes. For now the thorns and the dragon give way and that is enough.

#1--Louis Simpson
“In the Suburbs”

There’s no way out.

You were born to waste your life.
You were born to this middleclass life

As others before you
Were born to walk in procession
To the temple, singing.


I like the brevity of this poem, thus its its sparing use of image (rather, its concentration on a single image). I really appreciate simple declarative statements
While I believe in using image in poetry (obviously) I think that this necessary element has been placed on pedestal to the exclusion of abstract concepts and dexterity with language. It’s refreshing to see a poet embrace abstraction successfully, as an image doesn’t even occur until the end of the poem in the last two lines. It’s beautiful, still. It’s poetry, still.
I guess that is why I enjoy spoken word so much. It is not afraid to actually say something in plain words, that may or may not be abstract, rather than supplying and juxtaposing image after image and hoping the reader gets it. As poets we do want people to see and feel the words we write, but we are not painters (though there are some artistic parallels). We have the use of words, so that we can plainly convey abstraction and create musical language. Why is it that we are mostly taught to avoid abstractions, rather than being taught the balance between living entirely in the mind and living entirely in the eyes? Or maybe I am misunderstanding.
Even the image provided isn’t ornate and all the information about who “you” is and the situation that brought this reflection on is left out. Suburban life/a procession towards a temple singing, all so boiled down. He could have used a metaphor for “no way out”, “wasting life”, and "middle-class life” but he didn’t. He just said it and it works... for me anyway.

New Version of Land Forbidden | The Beginning

 "Anytime people who are usually ignored decide to credit themselves with recognition, it’s a problem. If people who are often silenced demand a voice, extreme efforts are exhausted to suppress their cries. Whenever there is an emergence of unity from a socially neglected and once dismantled group, those in power scatter for an oppressive solution and attempt to revive the ever so popular “divide and conquer” method. Highlighting subtle differences in hopes to cause the newly proud people to bicker with each other, tear one another down, dismiss what connects us.
Our pride is so intimidating. Knowledge of our power is such a threat. Know that. Be aware of the strength that is held in unity. Don’t fight the urge to unite."






DEBORAH’S MOTHER OPAL | Year 2413, 37 years before The Crisis

“They didn’t think it would ever happen again, the 1970s. So much had been lost, there was so little cohesion especially after the drugs and then the devastation of the ‘justice’ system. Truth was no one expected for crack and heroin and meth to have the effects that they did. No one expected the devastation. Maybe if people had known before what it all really was... But there was still so much anger and so much pain.  And people living in the shadow of death were looking for an escape. And then all the leaders dying… You can’t say it wasn’t purposeful. Otherwise, it doesn’t make no sense.


"Their hypocrisy had  been exposed but for the most part, hearts hadn't changed. Yeah, they knew Black people--and others too, the Jews, the Asians… They knew that they weren't going to stand for the ill treatment anymore, but that doesn’t mean They wanted to treat anyone differently or really believed that They had done wrong. Or even if They did know it was wrong, that doesn’t mean that They cared.

So the leaders were killed, drugs spilled into the streets, and They found other ways of controlling them. The emotional destruction allowed so little togetherness that everyone thought Black people would never recover, even other Blacks. And we almost didn’t, honestly.

“If it hadn’t been for the Continental Wars… we would have lost ourselves in Their madness. And it was madness.”

New writing challenge
250 words/day from now to September 10th
GO!

Imago by Octavia Butler

     Tonight (8/22/10) I just finished reading Imago by Octavia Butler. If you'll look at the one of my earlier posts I've been on a quest/mission/adventure/misadventure on finding Black writers of speculative fiction this book is my first read and I have to say a good one it was. I've been curious about Octavia Butler since a grad student did a presentation on her in my Southern fiction class a few semesters ago. The presentation was on Butler's book Kindred, and at the time I was looking also for southern spec-fic writers. In all honesty, I had never encountered science fiction by a Black writer with a Black protagonist until then, so it really caught my attention. By the way, this is more of a reader response than a book review. Anyway, back to Imago.

      I didn't know it, but Imago is third in the Lilith's Brood/Xenogenesis series (this is always happening to me, I'll come across a book that's not clearly marked as part of a series). Basically Earth has been taken over by the Oankali, after a missile war that destroys a lot of the Earth. The Oankali mate and reproduce by combining with the species of the planet they have taken over through a kind of sexless Oankali called ooloi. I guess I'll have to read the other books to learn more, but I don't feel it necessary, the book stands on its own quite well.

     I guess I expected more indication of which people were of what race, though that would not have been as natural tot he story it might have been overly descriptive though the origin of the people is told about often so that's some indication. Lilith's "black cloud of hair" is the indication gof her race, but I guess that's not the most important part of this story. Imago is the adult stage pf an insect according to wikipedia and that theme of phases, adulthood, metamorphosis, etc. are central to the story. I have to force myself to think more writerly and less literarily. I liked the story, I loved Jodhas even though I just as the human characters resented some of his natural manipulativeness, even though he was the main character I wasn't totally alienated from the resisting humans just as Jodhas wasn't totally alienated because he was partly human. He understood but still had the imperative biological need to do what he did to find mates.

ART WUK

ART WUK: "“EVEN IN LITERATURE AND ART, NO MAN WHO BOTHERS ABOUT ORIGINALITY WILL EVER BE ORIGINAL: WHEREAS IF YOU SIMPLY TRY TO TELL THE TRUTH (WITHOUT CARING TWOPENCE HOW OFTEN IT HAS BEEN TOLD BEFORE) YOU WILL, NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN, BECOME ORIGINAL WITHOUT EVER HAVING NOTICED IT.”
— CS Lewis"