Monday, April 30, 2007
Diverne wanted to die, that August night
face hung over hers, a sweating moon.
She wished so hard, she killed part of her heart.
If she had died, her one begotten son,
her life's one light, would never have been born.
Pomp Atwood might have been another man:
born with a single race, another name.
Diverne might not have known the starburst joy
her son would give her. And the man who came
out of a twelve-room house and ran to her
close shack across three yards that night, to leap
onto her cornshuck pallet. Pomp was their
share of the future. And it wasn't rape.
In spite of her raw terror. And his whip.
~ Marilyn Nelson
from THE HOMEPLACE, Louisiana State University Press (December 1990)
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
I thought I would mention the blog concept on Livejournal and let people who use the site know they can submit articles if they wish. I've received messages comparing LJ and blogspot, and I've made my goal is not to have a battle of LJ and blogspot--- the goal is about being involved in the community in which we reside! And I actually had a person reply to that comment with, "True, but it also doesn't mean that those interested want to travel all of the way over to a blog to read or write about such topics," in regard to my
WTF? "All the way over to a blog." When did typing a web address become such difficult labor? For the love of Dolly, type it once and bookmark it. I didn't realize a web address was like hitching the horses to a wagon and making the full day trip to town for a sack of flour and feed.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Click here to access the NPR article on "A Wreath for Emmett Till" and hear Marilyn read her work!
Other interesting news-- "A Wreath for Emmett Till" was the center of some controversy in California. Check out fellow poet Robin Kemp's blog entry for more information. I interviewed Marilyn before the drama occurred; however, I'm doing an update with Marilyn to include the "controversy."
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Framing, you crouched, focused, captured, shot,
I watched you where I stood, your movements slow,
measured. Sparring with the light, you hoped
to hold the thing, to catch the proper angle,
came back along the path where arches rose
and sunlight burned my face. We walked a while,
then stopped again for ten or fifteen minutes.
Patient, I’d learned it takes a lot of time,
confining bits of world within squares.
At home, we relived Arches by the window,
holding each slide up to see the image.
“Look,” we said, “this one’s really good,”
and passed them back and forth across the table,
the cat meowing at our feet, and you,
annoyed. “Shut up!” you yelled, and grabbed for her.
I loved the colors of those slides, the orange--
pink of rock, rising from the sand,
the one of us standing by a bush,
your arm around my waist, your silly grin.
In albums of your many trips and visits,
there’s more of me than you. Waist-deep in leaves,
I wave, or showing of my strength, I hold
your friend piggyback on the lawn—I’m bent,
laughing, his elbow hooked around my neck.
exhausted, my hair flying loose, my eyes
squinting at such rich shades of blue.
That was before I flipped the car. You took that
too, the metal crushed like foil or paper
while I lay miles away in ICU.
In most, I seem content, holding the cat
or drinking coffee with my high-school pal.
What did I know or did I lose from then
to now? Here’s one in
neating the shore beneath the road we ride.
is that the way we lose ourselves in time:
a wind or ocean chips away the land;
we wake one day to find ourselves surrounded,
water to our hips, the island gone?
Last year my parents came to see the house.
You and Mom installed an extra phone line
to run the modem that you’d bought. “You two
can talk through e-mail,” said my mom. Her smile
stung; she never read me very well:
our own strained smiles still trying to believe
in what we were, still trying to deceive.
there are no pictures of that visit; you hardly
took the camera out all year. We never
did get copies of the wedding proofs.
The photos with the shadows that you hate,
and hardly any of our guests. We shrugged
and said, “What can we do? He is our friend—
he took them all for free.” We rolled with things.
That was our way. When Sara came, the time
her husband threatened to find a whore, we made
the extra bed, drank tea and talked till late.
and when my cousin told us he was gay,
we gave him hugs, played Scrabble all night long.
The pictures end in
got married there last June; there’s only one
of us together, riding the train, your hand
holding the rail above my head. We smile,
of course. We had to smile—this was a picture!
And then blank pages after that. I turn
and turn as if to find a future there—
us headed West, or fixing up the house—
as if the slots of plastic might be filled
with answers to the questions: what went wrong,
why loves leaves us, or how to carry on.
from Bodies that Hum
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Volunteers from Community Organizations walk throughout the park and along the parade route and ask folks to give a little or a lot!
WHO GETS THE MONEY?
YOUR ORGANIZATION GETS 50%
and the rest helps pay for the expense of putting on Pride weekend. APC attracts the crowds & supplies the T-Shirts, buckets & I DONATED stickers; you provide the volunteers.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Throughout the weekend, your group volunteers for at least one, 2 hour minimum shift. Walk through the festival and collect from the 100,000 people who come to the park each day.
$55,000 AND COUNTING!
For the last 6 years The Atlanta PRIDE Committee has partnered with other organizations to help them fundraise during the PRIDE Festival. This program has allowed APC to move more than $55,000 back into the community.
CALL THE PRIDE OFFICE 404-929-0071 OR APPLY ONLINE NOW!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
here you go......
I haven't received any group emails on this topic so I don't know how much word has gotten out but in a really stupid move, the Atlanta Journal Constitution has just eliminated Teresa Weaver's position as book page editor. Supposedly, the page may shrink down to just wire copy.
EVERYONE .... needs to write an email of protest to AJC Managing Editor Julia Wallace and Publisher John Mellott: firstname.lastname@example.org@ajc.com
Here's the info from the blog Critical Mass:http://bookcriticscircle.blogspot.com/2007/04/atlanta-journal-constitution-eliminates.html
Last week the Atlanta Journal Consitutition did a staff reorganization, eliminating its book editor position, which is demoralizing beyond speech. The AJC's section was run by long-time NBCC member and former board member Teresa Weaver, who put together one of the best-edited literary pages in the country, giving Atlanta -- which was #15 on the list of most literate cities in the U.S. (far ahead of New York(#49) -- the cultural dialogue it deserved.
Those on the NBCC board know Teresa's commitment to literature, especially novels and narrative nonfiction which meditated on America's complicated and shameful racial legacy. She was an early champion of writers like Edward P. Jones, William T. Vollmann, and Colm Toibin, not to mention Paul Hendrickson. I had the pleasure of writing for her, and I found Teresa's edits and reviewing assignments an education in and of themselves. I will miss working with her dearly.
Teresa has the opportunity to apply for a job within the company, but it's not clear what the fate of the book page will be -- whether it'll be reassigned to an existing editor, whether it will go entirely to wire copy, or whether it will be removed altogether. If you care about books, or literary events in Atlanta, or cultural discussion, this is of vital importance, especially since the paper reaches over 2.3 million readers in Atlanta per week, with over 3 million additional page views online.
Old School Square Cultural Arts Centre
Advanced Poetry Workshops:
Intermediate Poetry Workshops:
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I will definitely have another blog entry up tonight because I want to share an email I received last week from Representative Amos Amerson and other information around SB 148.
Also, I hope to have a quote or two from SB 148's sponsor, Senator David Shafer, to include in the entry tonight.
Here is the AJC Article:
Stem cell bill passes in last-minute vote
By Sonji Jacobs Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 07:53 PM
A bill that would promote nondestructive stem cell research in Georgia received a last-minute committee vote Tuesday, greatly improving the proposal’s chances of passing the General Assembly this year.
The House Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Rep. Amos Amerson (R-Dahlonega), approved Senate Bill 148 with no opposition. Last week, the committee declined to vote on the measure, raising doubts about whether the bill would pass before the final day of the Legislative session. The 2007 session is expected to wrap up on Friday.
“My objective from the beginning has been to promote every type of stem cell research over which there is no ethical controversy,” said Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), the bill’s sponsor. “The committee substitute approved by the House committee today achieves that goal by citing federal guidelines.”
Shafer said he worked with House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) on reworking the bill. The measure now mirrors some of the language in a federal bill being pushed by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga).
Isakson’s measure, dubbed the Hope Act, would provide federal funding only for research on stem cells taken from so-called “naturally dead” embryos —- those too deficient to produce a child if implanted. His bill is intended to address critics’ main objection: that taking stem cells from viable embryos destroys the embryos, an act they equate with taking a human life.
The U.S. Senate last week passed the bill.
In Georgia, Shafer’s bill needs to pass the full House and then must return to the Senate for approval of the changes made by the House.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Each bill or resolution has a "title," which is an introductory paragraph summarizing its content. As a caution against hastily passed legislation, Georgia's constitution requires that the title of each general bill be read three times on three separate days in each house. On the day of introduction the title of the bill is read aloud on the floor of the chamber. At this point, the presiding officer announces to which standing committee the bill will be assigned.
The bill now faces the second stage of the legislative process—committee consideration. While studying a bill, a committee can invite the author, other legislators, lobbyists, state agency officials, or the general public to testify about the bill. Frequently, based on its study, the committee will make changes in the measure. Should members desire to send the bill to the floor, they adopt a favorable report that simply states "do pass," "do pass with amendments," or "do pass by substitute" (meaning an alternate bill is forwarded). If the committee wishes to keep the bill from advancing, it can issue an unfavorable "do not pass" recommendation, or, as is most common, the committee can simply hold the bill and issue no report. Though there are several procedural motions to force the bill out or to move it to another committee, most bills introduced in the Georgia General Assembly die in committee.
If favorably reported from committee, a bill advances to the third stage—floor consideration. For most of the session, each house operates under its own rules calendar. Prepared each evening by the rules committee, this calendar sets the next day's agenda for floor action. As there are usually more bills favorably reported from committee than can be considered on one day's floor session, the rules committee attempts to decide which bills are most important or deserving of floor consideration. For a variety of reasons, a particular bill reported from standing committee may never be placed on the rules calendar.
Bills placed on the rules calendar are called up one by one for floor action. First, the bill's title is read aloud a third and final time. Then the floor is opened for debate. In each house, floor debate involves a member being recognized by the presiding officer to come forward to the "well" (the central podium at the front of the chamber) and speak on the bill to the entire body. During these comments, members at their desks may be recognized by the presiding officer to ask questions—and they must be phrased as questions. Legislators in the well usually agree to respond, although they occasionally decline to yield for questions.
At this point, amendments to a bill may be offered from the floor. Finally, if a motion calling for the previous question is approved, debate ends and the presiding officer calls for a vote. Each member has a switch at his or her desk to cast a "yea" or "nay" vote via their house's electronic voting system. Approval of a bill requires a majority of the total membership of that house—the equivalent of ninety-one yes votes in the House or twenty-nine in the Senate.
If approved, a bill is sent to the other house, where it must undergo the same procedure. In order for the bill to pass, an identical bill must be approved by each house of the General Assembly. Usually one house will make changes to a bill sent from the other house. In that event, the amended bill is sent back to the first house, which has the option of accepting or refusing the amendments. If the amendments are rejected, the bill is sent back to the second house, which can delete its amendments or stand firm. If the two houses cannot agree, a conference committee consisting of three members of each house can be appointed to try to achieve a compromise acceptable to both houses. If a compromise is agreed to, the conference committee's report is then presented to each house for approval. In recent decades, the conference committee mechanism has become increasingly important for resolving differences between the two houses. Today most important legislation (especially the annual appropriations act) can expect to end up in conference committee prior to passage.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
My mother called me this morning and left the following voice mail, "Please call me back when you get off work; I just want to hear your voice. I can't believe what's happened in Virginia. I love you. Don't forget to call me." The first thought I had was of the families who have experienced the loss of a loved one-- those families won't hear 'I love you' anymore-- no more holidays together --- and no child/brother/sister/cousin to say Happy Birthday to or tease for growing another year older.
All of this truly breaks my heart.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I have no answer to the blank inequity
of a four-year-old dying of cancer.
I saw her on TV and wept
with my mouth full of meatloaf.
I constantly flash on disasters now;
red lights shout Warning. Danger.
everywhere I look.
I buckle him in, but what if a car
with a grille like a sharkbite
roared up out of the road?
I feed him square meals,
but what if the fist of his heart
should simply fall open?
I carried him safely
as long as I could,
but now he's a runaway
on the dangerous highway.
I've started to pray.
But the dangerous highway
curves through blue evenings
when I hold his yielding hand
and snip his minuscule nails
with my vicious-looking scissors.
I carry him around
like an egg in a spoon,
and I remember a porcelain fawn,
a best friend's trust,
my broken faith in myself.
It's not my grace that keeps me erect
as the sidewalk clatters downhill
under my rollerskate wheels.
Sometimes I lie awake
troubled by this thought:
It's not so simple to give a child birth;
you also have to give it death,
the jealous fairy's christening gift.
I've always pictured my own death
as a closed door,
a black room,
a breathless leap from the mountaintop
with time to throw out my arms, lift my head,
and see, in the instant my heart stops,
a whole galaxy of blue.
I imagined I'd forget,
in the cessation of feeling,
while the guilt of my lifetime floated away
like a nylon nightgown,
and that I'd fall into clean, fresh forgiveness.
Ah, but the death I've given away
is more mine than the one I've kept:
from my hands the poisoned apple,
from my bow the mistletoe dart.
Then I think of Mama,
her bountiful breasts.
When I was a child, I really swear,
Mama's kisses could heal.
I remember her promise,
and whisper it over my sweet son's sleep:
When you float to the bottom, child,
like a mote down a sunbeam,
you'll see me from a trillion miles away:
my eyes looking up to you,
my arms outstretched for you like night.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
~ Bill targets professors' intolerance -- The AJC should have reprinted some of the comments that I heard were made by Ruth Malhotra. I need to check with some of my Tech friends about emails that were sent around regarding Malhorta-- If I remember correctly, there was much buzz about her on the Tech campus--- it was last year or the year before.
~ Senate approves ultrasound rule -- OK, first of all, I must confess it is extremely hard for me to read the words Senator Nancy Schaefer without being overcome with naseau, but I made it through the article none-the-less. I was happy to see that Representative Jill Chambers voted against HB 147, and the article ends with a great quote by Senator Nan Orrock.
~ The April issue of ToasterMag is up for your viewing pleasure. In this issue's Editor's Letter, the editor writes, "In such a short time, [Dustin] has completely recharged our Freehand poetry department." I think this is evident since the Freehand Department includes a new poem by the talent named Denise Duhamel. Also, Denise gave us permission to reprint "Antichrist Barbie," which is my favorite poem from her book KINKY.
~ Mark your calendars: The 2007 AIDS Walk Atlanta is scheduled for Sunday, October 21. For the past couple of months I have been hard at work on fundraising projects involving poetry. I plan to announce one of these projects within the next couple of weeks.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
SB 148 does not prohibit or even discourage embryonic stem cell research; the focus of the bill is solely on non-embryonic stem cell research and establishing an umbilical cord blood bank. If Dr. Csete wants bills promoting embryonic stem cell research in the GA General Assembly she needs to contact her elected officials to 'get the ball rolling.' A passed SB 148 will not block such an initiative.
I understand that Dr. Csete is passionate about her field of study and feels the need to voice her opinion, and I am thankful we live in a country where Dr. Csete can voice her opinion freely, but I only wish she would think of the greater good that is possible by the passing of SB 148. Is Keone Penn, first person to be cured of sickle cell via an umbilical cord blood transplant, not evidence of the greater good?
Not to sound harsh, but also staying true to speaking my mind, I would hope a doctor would have a better argument than saying the omission of an item is hostile judgment. If I would have used such an argument way back when, when I was on the middle school debate team, the debate coach would have pulled me from the podium.
Again, I encourage you to review Senator Shafer's website for SB 148, the Saving the Cure Act. Navigate the site to read various letters of support and newspaper articles regarding the bill along with the names of organizations that support SB 148.
When you email the House and Technology Committee please copy Senator Shafer (David.Shafer@senate.ga.gov). For your ease, you may copy and paste the emails of the Science and Technology members from below:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please share information regarding SB 148 with coworkers, friends, and family. Encourage them to contact the House and Technology Committee. With our support this bill can be released from committee and eventually passed in the House.
As citizens, it is our jobs to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions in the General Assembly. Their votes speak for us, so we must not fail to inform them of how to represent us, and if they fail to represent us we must take action at the polls .
Saturday, April 7, 2007
You might wonder where the idea for SB 148 originated. The bill is product of Keone Penn, who was cured of sickle cell anemia. Penn was the first recipient of an umbilical cord blood transplant, a transplant that saved his life. He has spoken to our elected officials about the battles he endured, the impact of his treatment, and having the opportunity to live sickle cell free. I don't understand how any elected official could vote against SB 148 after hearing Penn's story firsthand.
When I first discovered SB 148 from an AJC article, I did not know Keone Penn's story, and I could not imagine who, elected official or citizen, would want to oppose this bill. The bill supports NON-Embryonic Stem cell research and establishes an Umbilical Cord Blood Bank. Think of all the chances for research, all the possibilities to save lives that this bill gives to the citizens of Georgia. However, there are two groups that oppose SB 148. One group being those see the words "Stem Cell" and will not even give the bill a chance; the other group being people who support embryonic stem cell research and feel SB 148 is not enough. Since these two groups can't see past their prejudices, our support for SB 148 must outweigh theirs.
Also, check out Senator Shafer's page for Senate Bill 148, the Saving the Cure Act. As you navigate around the page you can find more information on the bill, various newspaper articles, and letters of support from citizens and organizations.
Good News: SB 148 passed through the Senate with a vote of 39 to 15. I am not going to discuss all the Senators who voted no; however, I want to spotlight two Senators: I am very disappointed in Senator Vincent Fort of District 39 (pictured to the right) for his vote of no, and I am disappointed and bothered that Nan Orrock of District 36 (pictured to the left) who serves on the Science and Technology, voted no against the bill in committee and on the Senate floor. Orrock was the only Senator on the Science and Technology committee to vote no. Senators Fort and Orrock are seasoned elected officials who in my opinion have worked to better our state, but in this instance they dropped the ball. When you have time I hope you will review the voting record for SB 148. Does your senator stand where you stand? If not, you need to voice your opinion.
The Fight: Now, SB 148 must be pass the House of Representatives. On Monday, April 9 at 2pm, SB 148 will go before the House Science and Technology Committee. SB 148 must pass through this hearing to make it to a vote on the House floor. If you are able, before 2pm on Monday, please contact the House Science and Technology Committee to let them know you want SB 148 to pass as submitted, no changes. In case you want to call the committee Monday morning feel free to call 404-657-8534 and voice your opinion. When you email the House and Technology Committee please copy Senator Shafer (David.Shafer@senate.ga.gov). For your ease, you may copy and paste the emails of the Science and Technology members from below:
Share this information with coworkers, friends, and family.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
It was like soul-kissing, the way the words
filled my mouth as Mrs. Purdy read from her desk.
All the other kids zoned an hour ahead to 3:15,
but Mrs. Purdy and I wandered lonely as clouds borne
by a breeze off Mount Parnassus. She must have seen
the darkest eyes in the room brim: The next day
she gave me a poem she’d chosen especially for me
to read to the all except for me white class.
She smiled when she told me to read it, smiled harder,
said oh yes I could. She smiled harder and harder
until I stood and opened my mouth to banjo playing
darkies, pickaninnies, disses and dats. When I finished
my classmates stared at the floor. We walked silent
to the buses, awed by the power of words.
~ Marilyn Nelson
from The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems, Louisiana State University Press
I bought The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems in 2006 before attending the 2nd Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival because I wanted to become better acquanted with Marilyn's work before participating in a workshop with her. I find myself visiting the book again and again-- the language is beautiful, each word carefully chosen like precious jewels.
I used the first line from "How I Discovered Poetry" in last month's workshop. The poet who drew the line did a good job using it.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Each month I am going to name a Poet Of The Month, and ach week I'll share a previously published poem (that I enjoy by that poet) in the blog. Then I'll end the month by posting an interview I've conducted with the poet.
The inaugural poet for the series is the kick-ass founder of Soul Mountain Retreat, Marilyn Nelson. I am also happy to write that I have interviews scheduled through October.
OK. So yeah, go do something poetic.