Sunday, August 16, 2015

How the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Changed the Democratic Party by JULIAN BOND

Paul Robeson with a young Julian Bond.
I urge you to read this short piece written by Julian Bond (1940 to 2015), former chair of the NAACP, former head of the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the founders of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). An honorable man who dedicated his life to civil rights and had the grace, genius and perseverance to enact change.

So. In 1968 he was part of a coalition from Georgia to the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Many in this coalition were Black; not all. They couldn't get hotel rooms - not clear to me if this was strictly monetary, race-related, but anyway. They couldn't.

Bond ran into an associate of the Rev. Elijah Muhammad of the Black Muslims, a group not known for wanting to mingle with white folk. Bond met with Elijah Muhammad. He describes the meeting in this article. A day later, the Reverend gave him most of the money needed to fund the delegation.

And that changed the face, or faces, of the Democratic Party from monocolor to Black and White - a huge step forward. And, again, it was the Black Muslims, who were responsible.

Click to read the article, Now Let The Democrats Praise Elijah Muhammad, in the Chicago Tribune (1996).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tattoo - by Wallace Stevens

I'm at Byrdcliffe in Woodstock. One of the rooms has Wallace Stevens' name on it.  
He stayed here. His "Tattoo" is eerie, light equated to a spider to crawling, to 
spreading webs, fastening. I haven't seen stars in a long time. Disconected thoughts.


The light is like a spider.
It crawls over the water.
It crawls over the edges of the snow.
It crawls under your eyelids
And spreads its webs there--
Its two webs.

The webs of your eyes
Are fastened
To the flesh and bones of you
As to rafters or grass.

There are filaments of your eyes
On the surface of the water
And in the edges of the snow.
Wallace Stevens, from U of V.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some Quotes from Henry Miller

I read Henry Miller long ago and don't remember my feelings reading him, just the look of the books, which is, I agree, odd. He  lived a version of honesty, was perhaps romantic, as in a bit skewed. I know longer know what "liberated" means - the complication being wrought from both gender politics and realities of life. These quotes shine with spirit and commitment - both admirable.  They are a direct copy and paste from an excellent site, Henry Miller - by Dr. Hugo Heyrman

"No appointments, no invitations for dinner, no program, no dough. The golden period, when I had not a single friend.—Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)

"I keep the Ping-Pong table handy for people I don’t want to talk to. You know, it’s simple. I just play Ping-Pong with them." —Henry Miller

"The art of living is based on rhythm - on give and take, ebb and flow, light and dark, life and death. By acceptance of all the aspects of life, good and bad, right and wrong, yours and mine, the static, defensive life, which is what most people are cursed with, is converted into a dance, 'the dance of life.' The real function of the dance is metamorphosis." —Henry Miller

"I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul. It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!" 
—Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)

"To keep the mind empty is a feat, a very healthful feat too. To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself. The book-learning gradually dribbles away; problems melt and dissolve; ties are gently severed; thinking, when you deign to indulge in it, becomes very primitive; the body becomes a new and wonderful instrument; you look at plants or stones or fish with different eyes; you wonder what people are struggling to accomplish by their frenzied activities; you know there is a war on but you haven’t the faintest idea what it’s about or why people should enjoy killing one another." —Henry Miller (The Colossus of Maroussi)

Letter:  July 31, 1949. For more information click here

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oracular Radiation and The Young Orator

2 poems:

Marc Jacobs designs clothes or his team does or whatever. And accessories. And many new stores which are polluting Greenwich Village. So that's the background to "(Marc Jacobs to the West Village.)" And, yeah, I did feel an elephant trunk brush my calves, but that was as I crossed Third Avenue, near 26th Street. See, "As She Crosses." Both poems are in Other Rooms Press' latest issue, Oracular Radiation. That is such a great name I'm not sure poems are necessary. Oracular Radiation conjures old movies and visions of what could be.

Co-editors of Other Rooms are Ed Go and Michael Whalen. Ed Go is a poet and artist - I've oogled with much respect his collaborations several times at the Center for the Book in New York City. He wrote "Heaven, Hell & Middle Earth," an essay about three poems in my collection, The Future Is Happy.

1 story:

Last year my story "The Young Orator" was published as a fiction chapbook by Winged City. The publisher and editor, Teneice Marie, has revamped so Winged City is now under Argus House Press. "The Young Orator," about an eight-year old who spouts quotations from Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The story also features a '57 Chevy Bel Air with pinstriping.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

When I Sold Marijuana

The Artist as a Marijuana Sales Force of One 
I am a youngest child. We youngest are exposed to the world, or at least our older siblings' versions of it, in ways that make us, not jaded, but aware. Sophisticated, even, or so we like to think. We are arguably more aware than our peers with less complicated siblings or siblings who are younger.
If you know of anyone in sales who wants to demonstrate the connection between character type and success, point them to this article.  Introverts and sales?  Probably not a good mix. To protect the innocent, I didn't reveal how many Camp Fire Girl mints I ingested. Are they still for sale? Man, they were good, and that was before I'd ever heard of munchies. 
"My Month in Marijuana Sales" is in the Summer 2015 issue of the ever wonderful The Writing Disorder, edited by Christian Lukather. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

...the green of light from trees... & a call for work : HIV Here & Now

Two good things, one ongoing, one promised. The ongoing is a poem-a-day, for a year, on the site HIV Here & Now. Some wonderful poets have already been featured. L. Llamar Wilson, Danez Smith, Julene T. Weaver, Joan Larkin.

My poem, "Practical" was posted on Day 4. It was originally published in Main Street Rag.  It's about either the first or second to go from AIDS, in my life, in the 80s. About that, rage, grief, feminism, collating facs and feelings.

The call-for-work is for an anthology proposed by Michael Broder, publisher and editor at the new Indolent Press.  In brief:
Indolent Books is developing an anthology of writings about the current experience of HIV under the working title, HIV Here & Now, to be published in 2016 in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of these initial reports of what would come to be known as AIDS. For more information about that part of the project, see our Submittable page. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Right to be Lazy - let's hear it for indolence

Another reason to like Karl Marx - his son-in-law Paul Lafarge,
married to the brilliant Laura Marx, pictured above.

The Right to be Lazy

By Paul Lafargue

(A well-known Socialist writer of France. He and his wife, finding themselves helpless from old age and penury, committed suicide together)
DOES any one believe that, because the toilers of the time of the mediæval guilds worked five days out of seven in a week, they lived upon air and water only, as the deluding political economists tell us? Go to! They had leisure to taste of earthly pleasure, to cherish love, to make and to keep open house in honor of the great God, Leisure. In those days, that morose, hypocritically Protestant England was called “Merrie England.” Rabelais, Quevedo, Cervantes, the unknown authors of the spicy novels of those days, make our mouths water with their descriptions of those enormous feasts, at which the peoples of that time regaled themselves, and towards which “nothing was spared.” Jordaens and the Dutch school of painters have portrayed them for us, in their pictures of jovial life. Noble, giant stomachs, what has become of you? Exalted spirits, ye who comprehended the whole of human thought, whither are ye gone? We are thoroughly degenerated and dwarfed. Tubercular cows, potatoes, wine made with fuchsine, beer from saffron, and Prussian whiskey in wise conjunction with compulsory labor have weakened our bodies and dulled our intellects. And at the same time that mankind ties up its stomach, and the productivity of the machine goes on increasing day by day, the political economists wish to preach to us Malthusian doctrine, the religion of abstinence and the dogma of work!
from:  The Right to be Lazy, 1883, courtesy of the Marxists' Internet Archive

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nima Yushij: It’s time for the end of days to cry out

It’s time for the end of days to cry out
and stain blue this page and this dynasty
Time for the flood that crushed our houses
to rise up and reach for the top
to rip out this fragile footing
and wash the wrongs from the land

Iranian poet Nima Yushij, 1896-1960,
from “IT IS TIME”
Tr. from the Farsi by Kaveh Bassir
from Poetic Voices of the Muslim World website/web exhibit

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Please Don't Write About These Don'ts {A Guide for Fiction Writers}

A Naga

A debate-ish popped up today about editors' proclamations. Editors of small journals which publish fiction. In addition to always and not originally stating, "Send us your best," as if writers knowingly send their crap, their fails, their uglies, an editor, one in particular, was called out for his proclamation, his warnings in his journal's Call for Work.  This particular fellow isn't so bad. But comments, mainly from men, defending him are (so bad).  It's an old battle, ongoing and never very interesting, the battle being the "don'ts" of plot. A woman instigated the debate. I suppose that's why the fellows chimed in.

One comment was only Kafka could write about the creature/human transformation. Whew! He got in under the wire. I thought the cutting off point was Shakespeare. I thought the real cutting off point was Ovid. I guess cause Satan isn't an animal, Goethe was safe.

Listen to me and listen hard. No one is to write a fairy tale. No one is to read the Hans Christian Anderson or Angela Carter. You might be inspired. O fie on thee, writer, inspired by great writing.

Some other don'ts include:

Don't write about star-crossed lovers, or lovers who have any problems at all.
Don't write about adultery.
Or gambling. Or driving, hitchhiking, or walking.
Don't write about men who hate their father.
Don't write about daughters with overbearing mothers.
Don't write about the experience of being a soldier at war.
Don't write about the experience of being a citizen in a country at war.
Just leave the whole war thing alone.
Don't write about revenge, abduction, or molestation. Who cares?
Don't write about being a Jew.
Don't write about being a Catholic.
Hey, Protestants, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus. Don't bother.
I'm on the line about atheists and agnostics.
Don't write about the absurdity of the academy.
Nothing there of interest and definitely nothing humorous.
Don't write about being a misfit teenager.
Don't write about a deformity, imaginary or real.
Don't write about poverty.
Don't write about Brooklyn.
Don't write about wealth.
Don't write about Boston, New York or Americans who travel abroad (wealthy or not, for adventure, or with drugs).
Don't write about crime, be it true or false.
I beg of thee. No stories in which someone is murdered and a detective, official or quaint, solves the crime.
Please. No stories of injustice. No children born out of wedlock. No working class heroes. No war heroes. No heroines. No-I mean NO-stories of orphans who are adopted, abused, sent to dreadful schools.
Don't set your story in New Orleans. Or Texas or New Mexico. Or Oregon. Which reminds me:
No stories about institutions caring for or warehousing the mentally ill.

The above is a short list.

 Of course, be warned, publishers of journals. The quiet, open-minded, modest editors will end up publishing the best - original writing which steals from the finest. Theft in art? Always a plus.
*The Nagas were mythical beings who could transform from man or woman to snake. They were a separate species from humans and lived in their own secret cities deep in the jungle. Often worshipped as gods in the early days, they eventually ended up as minor parts of both the Hindu and Buddhist religions. For more see:  The Naga

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I'm Posting Two-Word Reviews on Goodreads

Art by: Hikaru Cho. See below for her website and a short bio.

Hello to Anyone Interested.

I stopped reviewing formally last year, for many reasons none of which I will delineate here. But I just realized I could keep a list of what I've read on Goodreads, a platform I'd abandoned. So now I am posting two-word (or a few more) reviews of books. Right now, of books I've read in the past few months.  And although in some cases I write "good poet," the fuller meaning would be "I enjoyed reading this collection written by a good poet, and I have indeed read the book and am not simply claiming to have read same." There are even fuller-er meanings but you'll have to buy me a glass of wine to hear those.

Love to Reads & Poets & All Writers,

Sarah Sarai
I'm on Goodreads under the pseudonym, Sarah Sarai, ha ha.

Hikaru Cho. Her website: and from that website a brief bio:
Born in 1993/3/29 Currently living in Tokyo Japan. taking "UNUSUAL" as a theme of her creation and creating Art work such as Body painting, stopmotion movie, illustration, clay sculpture, clothing design, Character design, and all sorts. Also do collaboration with several cloth brands. She is now a student in Musashino Art university.
2012年 武蔵野美術大学 視覚伝達デザイン学科に入学。
UNUSUAL(非日常)ARTをテーマに掲げ、体にリアルな目や物を描くボディペイントや衣服のデザイン、イラスト、立体、映像作品などを制作。衣服ブランドMelantrick Hemlight,タイツブランドtokoneとのコラボレーションや、ポスター、スマートフォン向けアプリのイラストやキャラクターグッズのデザインも行っている。

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Anne Waldman Fever Is Upon Us

A Dying Empire - metal band from Lafayette.
Anne Waldman fever is upon us. One friend told me of Waldman's recent performance at her induction into  American Academy of Poets. Bold, dramatic, and singularly nonacademic. Further, a small press, great weather for media, will lead with Anne Waldman's work in their next anthology. I'm in it, too. And the latest issue of Posit features Waldman alongside artist Pamela Lawton.

Attenuate the Loss and Find

For Adrienne Rich

[Our burden to carry as she did
shift the weight of song, heft and gnosis
“body poetics”
as a total event
her fullness rare in the amnesiac Kulchur
awake, awareness & urgency when poetry serves]

name appears 
everywhere and in dream
body armor removed

what now, legacy, archivum
we female archons preserve of
intensity a durance a hand you recognize
(sounds sound)
assurance as lives on

drank of that
drank of this
almost suffocated, then drowned
downed but never

what only she could only know
as herself living in the brute time

speak of a syntax of rendition?
the politics of Empire chip away
as poetry attests, give it up

curve of a water-starved globe
to follow and be following?

racism, sexism, struggle

everything in intense grasp of
consciousness — cut in crystal observation
for her rapid and perched intellectus
privacy opens to vibrant light

this is stuff of Eros, of empathy
passionate edge of Adrienne
the American Skeptic

I feel you consociational in this light
a term of anthropology, to study
intersections in the annals we share

intergenerational, interspecies, interlanguage

move in parallelograms

getting it right as she did

Solstice, Boulder, Colorado 2012
High Park fires distress
Source: Poetry (March 2014)._____________

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Songbook (She's Fabulous! She's Fabulous!)

 Overture (for Red Bricks)  
Hickory! Hank! Zeke! (Farmboys’ Swing)
Dorothy’s Dream
It’s Green Glittering Glinda!
Mambo for a Daid Witch
I’m Thinkin’ I’m Thinkin’ I’m Thinkin’ Thinkin’ Thinkin’
Lamentation in Yellow (Waltz for Poppy)
Hands Are Only Idle When They’re Not Helping You
Is That You, Professor Marvel?
Not Gonna Be a Witch No Mo’ (No Mo’)
Red Shoes Polka (Ballet)
Heal Me (of the Bad Witch in My Soul)
Dorothy’s Dream (Reprise)
She’s Fabulous! She’s Fabulous! Auntie Em Is Fabulous!
Sarah Sarai, 2015. In hopes yet another musical is made of The Wizard of Oz  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Wheat grows between the pages of books ... Nazir Qabanni, Syrian poet

A draft of a Nizar Qabanni poem. 
A Syrian poet, publisher, diplomat, Nizar Qabbani was born on March 21, 1923. He died in 1998.  I was looking for a poet born today, the first day of Spring, when flowers spring up. Love is a flower or so I'm told.

When I Love You

When I love you
A new language springs up,
New cities, new countries discovered.
The hours breathe like puppies,
Wheat grows between the pages of books,
Birds fly from your eyes with tiding of honey,
Caravans ride from your breasts carrying Indian herbs,
The mangoes fall all around, the forests catch fire
And Nubian drums beat.
When I love you your breasts shake off their shame,
Turn into lightning and thunder, a sword, a sandy storm.
When I love you the Arab cities leap up and demonstrate
Against the ages of repression
And the ages
Of revenge against the laws of the tribe.
And I, when I love you,
March against ugliness,
Against the kings of salt,
Against the institutionalization of the desert.
And I shall continue to love you until the world flood arrives;
I shall continue to love you untill the world flood arrives.
Nizar Qabbani, from On Entering the Sea: The Erotic and Other Poetry of Nizar Qabbani, translated by Lena Jayyusi and Jack Collum.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

God is whatever makes us better


 It’s the weirdest thing, 
to be in love with a woman. 
Nothing else matters. 
Even that campy hate scorn is 
rick rack on a little black dress — 
you kidding me? 

Your woman is a body of miracle fiber, 
a tote accommodating 
a change of clothes and good shampoo, 
a heated embrace, an epicenter 
a little sun next to you 
preparing you for your dangerous salvation.

 You have to find a way 
and a sherpa anxious to 
shake out, lean over, 
anchor raw minerals 
on the four directions, 
the four elements, 
the nonrefundable missteps.

 God is whatever makes us better. 
Who’s seen Her, besides 
          William Blake 
          and ten million mothers. 
Do they agree how shining her hair is 
or that her voice is the unified theory 
of everything arranged for strings?

 The idea is to be led to something 
          that is not you. 
If it is the solar system in your arms, 
          pinging you, well, that works. 

®2015. Sarah Sarai, Ping-PongLiterary Journal of the Henry Miller Library, 2014. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Early Jazz

from a Swingle Singers cover

It was during the yearly Bach Festival, over the Christmas holiday. WQXR plays solid Bach. Bach, who is solid, is on 24/7. All Bach, all-the-time, and any variations are Bach's invention. The organ was inevitable. Fugue, concerti, prelude, chorale. I only remember thinking, This is jazz. THIS is jazz. Something I'd not previously heard, noticed, sensed, understood. I repeated that to a jazz singer and daughter of a musician. We were going into or out of a meditation at the Edgar Cayce Center in NYC. She said yeah. So, yeah.

              Early Jazz

          Like most artists,
Johann Sebastian Bach
moved to the city. 

Sometimes you need
a point of entrance for
ornamental notes and flourishes.  

So a crazy organist
can staff the future with
musicians who rest, yeah,
but mainly soar.
                         Sarah Sarai. Published in The Wallace Stevens Journal, 
                         Volume 38, Number 1, Spring 2014.