Friday, May 26, 2017

"Low" from Mervyn Taylor's new collection #poem #poetry

Mervyn Taxor
Last night I was at a happy, rambunctious launch for Mervyn Taylor's latest collection, Voices Carry (Shearsman Press). We were at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village. The great David "Happy" Williams on bass charmed with a few Trinidadian-ish tunes. I'd been asked to read one of Merv's poems. Here it is. "Low"

Voices Carry is available from Shearsman, Amazon, B&N.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Flattened by Manchester: "A Bullish Run into Chambers" #poem

from the Express:*

Wrote this when Princess Diana was killed in the wreck and a friend subsequently criticized people who set out flowers in honor of strangers. Am flattened by the Manchester bombing. Setting out flowers. 

A Bullish Run into Chambers
When a stranger killed is laid to rest
at an altar for Public Mass of Remembrance,
African violets torn from a window’s sun
buttery as a tea cookie or rose petal,
prim Queen Anne’s lace for Diana,
buttery herself and silky, a fallen sulky,
for a child we will never meet,
a teenager who standing is caught
in crosshairs of our blood extravaganza,
we are allowed impersonal grief.
We pay to be hollowed by cinematic gore,
are immunized against capitalism’s rule:
a business must grow. The word was gore,
a bullish run into chambers born bursting
and broke. Along chain-link fences,
at street corners and Buckingham Palace,
wobbly petals mark our bid to be human.
Sarah Sarai, first pub. in Fringe, issue 26, now archived by Sundress Publications.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Poem: "There is no quantification of smallest powers which propel."

A Territory of the Miracle
Cool the crude map
fired in your dark palm. 
Slip around 1 corner,
then 2, 3, next
4. 4 corners squaring off
with Fate: It’s a start.
(Times x, a lifetime.) 
Now a dusty path to
green sorrow growing shoots.
Stop short of the bog.
A shape will approach,
reach for, comfort,
your weeping hand.

That outshining ray of
sun with tumbled motes,
spinning cities—
take the keys—
incorporeal shrines glinting,
imbuing strength
to leave the haze.
A territory of the miracle. 
There is no quantification
of smallest powers
which propel. 
Sarah Sarai. First published in Fringe, issue 26. All issues archived courtesy of Sundress Publications.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Heliocentric World, 1965, Sun Ra

A wee bit into "Outer Nothingness" I felt I was in a Buddhist Temple, that the gutturals were leading me to that promised higher plane. Then the sound changed and I was freely and happily allowing myself to be invaded by sound rays.

This is from the album The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra. It may have been the best thing happening in 1965, other than the Voting Rights Act, which is currently imperiled by our spineless Congress. So if another Sun Ra wants to open America's heart, throat, insight, and crown chakras, do it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Disney goes Samba

How to make the happy music of Disney even happier? Samba! The album is Disney Adventures in Samba. The artist is Diogo Nogueira. That person dancing is you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Village Voice Sees Me, or, a Moment of Satisfaction in My Life

No, Dear magazine is a poetry journal dedicated to publishing fresh voices from the New York literary scene. This week, they celebrate their spring issue, "REPUBLIC," with readings by many of the dozen-plus contributors. Over the course of the evening, attendees will get to listen to the seductive lyricism of Renata Ament, the haunting investigations of Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, and the wry declarations of Sarah Sarai. The writers No, Dear features are diverse in age, gender, race, visibility, form, and voice — a beautiful reflection of the city itself. In their work, poetics and politics converge, attempting a vision of unity and resistance in a deeply fractured America. Swing by to support a hopeful vision of our faulty Republic, and your local poet. Issues will be sold for $8 at the launch.

It's a nice feeling is all I will say, to be appreciated with an encouraging accuracy. "Wry" isn't all I am, but for sure my poetry stylings, to draw on the jazz world, can be wry. And warm congratulations to the other two poets named, Renata Ament and Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves. No, Dear is edited by Emily Brandt, Alex Cuff, T'ai Freedom Ford. 

Thanks to my friend, Pete Dolack, who did what Google Alerts chose not to, alert me to this clip.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

With Y as an Absence of Pain #fiction

A story I wrote is in print or virtual print. Check out the latest issue (#17) of Cleaver Magazine to read "With 'Y' as an Absence of Pain." 

Thank you. It takes so long to write one story and then, poof, it's up and out, a dandelion shred blowing.

With 'Y' as an Absence of Pain

Thursday, February 2, 2017

One Hot Mess kicks Trump-ass with fake @realFrederickDouglass

The satirical blog One Hot Mess leapt in to show the nation's First Fool what a ignorant lout he is. Not that the First fool gives a...

I care, however. Here are some of the fake tweets. Okay, I admit. I tried to find an account on Twitter - puzzled by the length -- how did the Tweeter get past the 140 limit (methought). There IS an account for Frederick Douglass @realFredDoug, but @realFrederickDouglass is a fiction, created for purposes of One Hot Mess' post. Thank you, brilliant satirist, brilliant lady-satirist.

@realFrederickDouglass: My autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, is #1 best-seller on Amazon. 4x better sales than Art of the Deal! P.S. I am dead!
@realFrederickDouglass: Hope you like everything I did for women's suffrage! Even the losers, haters, and flat-chested "fives." Enjoy!
@realFrederickDouglass: Appreciate @realDonaldTrump congrats on AMAZING job I did to secretly educate myself and other slaves while still living under slavery in Maryland. My work is finally being recognized!
@realFrederickDouglass: @realDonaldTrump, your FAKE NATIONAL SECURITY immigrant BAN goes against everything I stood for (when I was alive 122 yrs ago). A horrible mess!
@realFrederickDouglass: My abolitionist paper, The North Star, has much better coverage of me than the failing New York Times has of @realDonaldTrump! 

Click on One Hot Mess to read the full posting.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Philip Roth vs Daphne du Maurier: The Battle to Epitomize our Times (well, not really a battle except when read back-to-back)

I made a foray into Philip Roth's Plot Against America soon after its publication in 2004. The concept was cool, as in neat-o, that America had gone Nazi. That instead of FDR winning a third term in the White House, Charles Lindberg, nonfictional Nazi sympathizer, had run and won. Given the decades of Nazis in fiction and cinema who made great villains, I was ready for fun. After 50 pages I wandered off, however, insufficiently captivated. In 2004. In 2017 I returned to the novel, along with a slew of readers, because Plot is primo relevant. We have a fascist in in D.C.

I understand my disinterest in 2004 -- while the characters are believable, plucked as they from Roth's Newark, New Jersey childhood, they remain historic in feel, not universal. I didn't see myself or my milieu in any of them. The detailed plot was more workmanlike than fascinating. Now, 2017, the novel's concept overrides all. We have a nonpolitician, a larger than life public figure in the White House, beating out the exquisitely qualified competition. And he's scary as shit.

Plot's national antisemitic campaign, Lindberg-initiated, is believable in the novel's context. Maybe, however, it is too specific.  There's a plot twist that could well  bear out in real life in the U.S., too, but no point in ruining that. Because of Trump, The Plot Against America is a valuable tool, a 'we missed the alarm clock, can we NOW wake up' call. I could have put it down but I knew I dare not do so this time.

Contrast that with Daphne du Maurier's short story, "The Birds." I read it yesterday. It's set in Britain's Cornwall, on the coast (not Marin County). Seen through the eyes of Nat, a thoughtful family-man, the ominous story feels (feels) at least as plausible as Roth's terror. The narrator notices unexplainable and eerie gatherings of birds. As happens with any prophet warning God's children to take care, Nat's cautions to his neighbors are ignored. His precaution serves only his wife and two children. As with Plot, there's much detail--Nat's smart hard work to shore up his house--and the birds' ballistic attacks. Yes, the premise seems a bit more implausible than Roth's, but "The Birds" seems far more real, and is a far more satisfying read. With the Doomsday Clock near midnight, avian disruption--well, who knows.

I was impressed by Roth, enchanted and terrified by du Maurier. Glad I read both.

[Note: These are my two most recently completed reads. Not much of a basis for comparison? Probably not, but I trust a reader with forgive my fancy.]

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Tepper Talk: Susan Tepper Interviews Sarah Sarai

Berndnaut Smilde

Berndnaut Smilde
Tepper Talk:

Susan Tepper writes fiction, poetry, interviews, runs readings, posts indefatigably. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by her in late 2016 about Geographies. Here is an excerpt:
In your poem ‘But Then Again’ you also bring up God:
 “… You suspect God’s an / anarchist and admit you / like belief which transforms / you into an arcangel, a / nimbus, the celebrating / Sun. /…”
 Will you talk some about this poem?
 S.S. If anyone wants to read ‘But Then Again’ which was published in Ascent here is the direct link. God? She’s a pretty common character in literature. No reaching deep into classical references there. I had a “moment” late one morning at the Center (LGBT) on 13th Street, in one of their spacious, high-ceilinged rooms with many large windows. The sun poured in through the glass and found me, and I was unable to differentiate between the very real corporeal Sarah Sarai and a self who was a character in a painting by a Renaissance artist, maybe Raphael, of a woman, holy or not, in a nimbus – those luminous clouds engulfing the saints in art. I inwardly narrated the moment, as when Annie Hall steps out of her body to narrate sex. So I felt anointed and was aware I was no more, no less than Sarah Sarai feeling anointed, or being anointed, or imagining myself in a painting at the Met. It stuck with me, that quick and glorious flash-bulb moment. I used it in a poem.
The full interview is here.

***The photos, from a "nimbus photography series," are by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde. "For his Nimbus photography series, Smilde has created indoor clouds within buildings including the Hotel MariaKapel in the Netherlands and Aspremont-Lynden Castle in Belgium. Smilde's clouds were listed by TIME Magazine as one of the top 10 inventions of 2012."

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Brutal Ineptness Is Taking Over D.C.

Trump is chaos on legs.

There were no scandals in the White House while Obama was in office. He, his staff, his appointees made plenty of mistakes but there was never the kind of attention that dogged the Clintons and Bush Jr. That dogs Donald Trump.

May the force for good be with us.