what questions did you ask?

December 29, 2009 § 2 Comments

A writer/poet friend of mine who migrated from England to the US in her formative years once asked what poems or books were offered and taught in our (Guyanese) schools. I remember saying there weren’t many American writers on the curriculum; we studied mostly Caribbean literature such as V.S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott and others. But I forgot to mention we also studied the works of African authors too.

Several days later while daydreaming on the L train, a piece by Nigerian poet J.P. Clark came to mind… my brain fired in exclamation “i studied him too!”

It was the first poem that Mrs. Walcott gave in order to examine imagery. Ibadan! I remembered loving the feel of that singular word rolling off my tongue, how i felt reading the piece but mostly the feverish search for its meaning. My 10 year old self learned Ibadan is a place in Nigeria and was ecstatic to re-visit the poem and peel back the layers with a new perspective. O, how that piece of knowledge was pertinent to both my understanding and appreciation of the following and its inevitable influence many many years later:

“Ibadan,
running splash of rust
and gold – flung and scattered
among seven hills like broken
china in the sun.”

……………14 years came & went when I wrote

“dulcet

in the reticence of solitary
i heard the vibrations
crumble pretension into shards
of unwanted china.”

At the conception of the above, I was unaware that Ibadan played a pivotal role in its construction. More particularly that image of broken china. That is, until deep within my daydream at the Wilson Avenue stop on the L train where i remembered that poem and my friend’s question, when the parallel was drawn.

This would not be the only instance literature would climb through the fissures of my brain. Things Fall Apart was the template for my disapproval of the war in iraq. I remembered how occupation/invasion affected okonkwo and the characters of that novel. In moments like those i appreciate the richness of my education and how it shapes my political views, my womanist perspective, appreciation for Africa, and the pride in my tongue and South American/Caribbean culture.

From Chaucer to Achebe, Kincaid to Nichols, Salinger to Soyinka and the line that still walks with me: “the broken silence of the heart,” I love good literature!

Margaret Atwood said “The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.” This leaves me wondering what questions did i ask, if any at all? And were they the right ones? I’d like to believe they were.

this plan & this place

June 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Like all, or should I say most writers who moonlight at their day job, I have questions about making it as a writer…and when I say make it, my meaning is to have shelter, daily bread & recreation from writing. However, I don’t wonder whether I should write. Writing is a must. I will. I have to. But whether it will sustain my living is another question whose answer fails to come with the same assertiveness. I question this to the point of being a tidbit aggravated. Sometimes asking self; if this never happens would you be disappointed enough to deem the career aspect of life a failure? I guess this is the quarter life crisis where you ‘if’ many things…examine and re-examine career etc. Then these eclipses occur and medication is taken in the bores of routine; Wake up. Work out. Go to work. Come home. Yoga. Go to sleep. Yuck!!!

LIVE!!!!

Every time I catch myself simmering in monotony. I scream; LIVE!!! it’s a reminder that living is necessary is not an existence is an experience. And to be quite honest, since the last scream I’m kinda giddy and a quarter angst about it. The other day I wanted and decided to have raspberry tea and red velvet cheese cake at midnight. Called my girlfriend, asked if she wanted to go downtown to do this with me. She said yes and so there we were taking a pause in the beat of monotony. The moment: wicked & indulgent with all its high caloric value. Yum to simple excitement.

—Insert random segue but a seemingly relevant thought ((at least in my head))—:

I remembered this Janet Ward poem posted on the wall of a subway car.

change

there are some, unafraid to show
how life has beaten them up.
or down:
they sit on the street
head in hands
or stare anesthetized
into dumbfounding space, crowds
rain.

others
choose familiar artifice
and carry their defeat
like money
they don’t have to spend
yet

Recently I shared this piece with someone who asked me what does it mean to me.

Me: i know both types. i am the former and small bits of the latter and the other type she didn’t mention. the type that writes it out in bitch & moan poems while purposing to truck…to always keep trucking…regardless, in spite of and words like it.

S: i can’t see myself in either.

Me: i can. i’ve stared into crowds, rain and such. it soothes it really does. And a lot of times I am unashamed to say where and how it hurts. Especially when it becomes too much and i have carried it truck with purpose as forlorn tries to beat me to a pulp. Almost pulverizing the flesh of my perseverance. Yeah. Sometimes you’ve got to stare.

—Exit random thought…back to living—

I’ve been editing my latest book “Emotions & Expletives.” Honestly speaking, it has been three (3) years since my first book was published. After a few mornings, it was taken off the market because of gross disappointment that followed the initial excitement. I can be very critical of my work so as is expected, I read it and wanted to edit the entire body. So I did and have been doing so on and off for three years. Yes I know it is ridiculous!!! Nevertheless, I feel ‘Emotions & Expletives’ won’t be that way. I’ve been diligent and have more confidence in the substance unlike its predecessors that are in the file dubbed ‘under editorial review.’ More so, I am burdened with the weight of giving birth to this particular book. Maybe gestation is over.

Also, I’ve been thinking about summer. I’m a tropical daughter and I love how this city transforms during the warm months, however, I do not look forward to the oppressive heat waves and the blistering days of minimal to no breeze. But it must be said, New York beats differently in the summer and I enjoy bopping to the pavement music. So in the name of living, Central Park Summer Stage’s “Definitely Poetry,” Alvin Ailey at The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Afro Punk Festival, the Martin Luther Concert Series, the numerous Street fairs, a particular Comedy Series at the Symphony Place and the documentary screening of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” are among the event bound to find me in their mix. This aforementioned documentary begs the question Does a bullet know Christian or Muslim and is “a story of sacrifice, unity and transcendence…honoring the strength and perseverance of the women of Liberia who came together to end a bloody civil war in their shattered country.” Here’s the trailer and please do visit the website for a screening near you:

Other than that, I’ve been thinking about the next five (5) years until thirty and though I am not quite ready to divulge the details of that plan, I will say this; Living looks promising. And on days when the knowledge of being a writer who doesn’t actually write for a living slams against my resolve to continue on in the efforts of making it as a writer, I’ll remind myself of this plan & this place.

keeping it in perspective

May 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

you haven’t done anything to deserve my heart. nothing particularly amazing to sweep my feet from beneath me. just little things that seem juggernaut size upon remembrance.

and I hate that…

hate that your memories creep on the floor of my mind. or exist like ticking sounds of time and the space of our sharing making thuds upon my cranium. songs I don’t like but now listen to because they played when we were…or they played while in your…and they played…they always seem to play…somehow…because you litter my skin with memories.

although they say one must never say never, i promised to never immortalize a man in my heART. ever again. but like the saying goes; never say never. ‘cause here I am rebellious to my own rules. etching you in the legacy that will outlive both author and her runaway train of emotions.

i like you. an ordinary specimen of man who upon coming into me, normalized my erratic lady cycle. there is nothing special about you. really. I swear by it. I tell myself this. regularly.

you

are

just

reg-u-lar.

but somehow with dazzling effects; smiles. laughter. untouchable bliss. peace. all in tow. just for me. in that presence of yours.

but I don’t want to love you. fear of it hurts like sadness. I mean what would I do with love for you? what could I possibly do with that or myself? seriously. what could I do with my self if it’s loving you? after all, you did say you want my heart. my love. yet regularly ignore the very beat it makes.

then again…what should I expect from a ‘regular’ chap?

life

painting by: Xan Xi Bethel

loquacious

May 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

Catch me in a really good conversation and you’ll notice I have a disposition to talk. Yup! I tend to babble. And then I have these pregnant silences. Loud. And deafening. No…not the kind that are made for heavy effect and pondering. Just silence. Pure. Because I am done and have nothing more to say. I am usually quite okay holding the phone as the minutes distance themselves from the hour with nothing to say. By which time I wouldn’t have noticed how much time elapsed since you and I broke word. Welllll that is, until you say you have to go or some random stuff crept through in the form of an idea and we’re picking apart the fractions of another topic. But I like being silent with people as much as I do conversations with smart, witty and eccentric personalities. As a child, I spoke to myself. A lot. Whole conversations. Responses and all. Probably part of the only child syndrome. As an adult, I keep it at a verrrrry minimum. Exercising discretion. Save for the occasional reprimand, soliloquy, reminder or thought spoken out loud. However, select adults are greeted with the child of my bygone. Yeah…I think that’s what happens. The ghost of my inner-child comes to visit every so often.

And since I am in a talkative mood, it should be said; I moved into my new place [sometime in October] and haven’t had a television. 6 months and every now and then I am wondering if I should just relent and visit the electronics store. My sister friends have grown accustomed to evenings at my house or sleepovers where we sit, eat, sip, laugh, talk, listen to some music, dance, but no television. My male friends too. This ‘no television’ business isn’t an entirely new stint since my mom refused to buy a television until I was a junior in high school. Yup!!! I was the only 14yr old in my group of friends who didn’t have a television in her home. It was 1999…the world panic stricken about the millennium, the religious preaching doomsday messages and the geeks pondered the millennium bug and being Y2k compliant while my mom leisurely decided to make a pact with “Sharp.” This may seem a tidbit extreme for some but it did me good. I’m still singing her praises. My only bone in this getting a television contention is sports. I love sports. Love watching the games and what not. Lack of television doesn’t go well with that. But even in the past 6 months I was still able to watch the super bowl and some other games without the television. the debate continues…do I really need one? Do I?

So I am going over my books. All the unpublished but complete books. Forever tweaking and editing and being an impossible perfectionist when I stumbled upon an old poem. The simple and organic type. I swear I read it and heard white noises. And that is big! At least for me. Very few, probably 3 pieces or so, if that many of my pieces I’ve ever really enjoyed or have had such a reaction/feeling to. More times a piece is written to get to a place, to exhale, take a breath, just because…etc etc…and when it’s out. It’s out. Then I hope someone, at least one person, digs it. So to look back upon a piece and that sensation wash over me, was really nice. I guess it’s because it reminds me of a time when the effects of oxytocin & testosterone had me bonding and believing in all kinds of chemical stuff. O how I have changed from that person. Here is said poem:

Reciprocity

She is an enigmatic oeuvre,
The reminder of things best kept secret,
The maestro behind the jazz
His sonata
That reverberates from
The tiny forced-open pores
Sitting on the skin of life.

And when he looks,
He sees her and takes her all in
Like the next best thing
Since the last best thing
Dissolved by the tangible
To a state of being incorporeal

And it feels like magic.

I read this smiling at my innocence. Hump…smdh… thank god I never believed in santa clause. I wonder how long it would have taken me to get over his non-existence. Uuhhhhmmmm. I met a guy. A boxer. We’ll leave his name out…don’t believe in name dropping. but he’s fun. I purposed not to write about him. Shoot!!! I purposed not to immortalize any more men in my writing. Except my brother. But…o well. So I met this boxer and he has the tightest rear end {male readers I apologize} and the best chest …okay as you can tell he makes me lust. Which is rear…rear I tell you!!! REAR!!! All this openness is going to get me in trouble. My god!! Somebody please shut me up!!! ((talks to herself…just write it out girl…write it OUT!!!)) the conversations are feather light and airy. I laugh a lot. Belly full of roaring sounds. Of which I’ve been in need of for a while now. We’ve sparred a few times and it has helped my body be in better shape. However, there is just something about his presence that is fun & soothing. We don’t have heavy profound conversations, almost on purpose, though it runs the gamut from sports to careers. Nevertheless, that last line “it feels like magic” kinda reminds me of him. No it’s not like that but something about him feels magical. I guess he’s one of those people and I appreciate the energy of his presence. BUT it should be mentioned; he has been placed on my blocked list a few times. Boy does he annoy me too!!!!

On that note, let’s shift gears. Last night I was at this rustic, artsy fartsy lounge on N6th & Berry Streets in Williamsburg Brooklyn. It was “Reggae Tuesday” and I have NEVER, I repeat, NEVER heard so many nice smooth reggae songs flow one into the other like that….except at this place call “Sip & Chat.” On the outside, this location looks like a regular building…quite discreet but inside the bartender whips up a mean ‘sex on the beach” and the deejay spins like he learned the trade at a few Stone Love dances or some other Jamaican dancehall for his very diverse and cool crowd. My gracious that white boy knows his old reggae like it’s some genetic predisposition. So my body swayed and hips rotated in their sockets to the smooth rhythms of Beres Hammond, Cocoa Tea et al and for that moment, I was home. In some backyard dance under the moonlit, star blanketed sky, with a skimpy white skirt gracing my thighs and breezy yellow halter holding not too generous but generous enough breasts ransom in year round summer heat waned off by the sea breeze and good vibes. At the end of the night, my thighs hurt, my heart was light and bowels free. I needed to pee!!!

((here’s that silence spoken about earlier))

i must start somewhere

April 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

 as a first blog [on wordpress] i’m torn between striving for something witty or a dash of artsy-serious. (( <–whatever that  is.)) anywho, i’m seeking a way to introduce myself with enough oomph to bring a reader or two or more, back to the phlegm of my next spit. but at this high noon hour nursing a runny nose, sleep deprived eyes and a waning headache backed by the slight neurosis of whether swine flu is upon me, i am inspired to just say ‘hey!!! read my about me and come back. like most writers. i smile when i am read. and radiate like starshine when a comment is left.’

much love until i see you on the next page.

and i do hope to see you there…

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