Archive for the ‘Tribute’ Category

Aimé Césaire, Martinique poet, has died
April 17, 2008

Aime Cesaire

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PARIS: The esteemed Martinique poet and politician Aimé Césaire, a leading figure in the movement for black consciousness, died Thursday, the French president’s office and a hospital said. He was 94.

Césaire was involved in the fight for French West Indian rights, and he also served as a lawmaker in the lower house of France’s parliament for nearly 50 years. French President Nicolas Sarkozy successfully led a campaign last year to change the name of Martinique’s airport in honor of Césaire.

Sarkozy on Thursday praised Césaire as “a great poet” and a “great humanist.”

“As a free and independent spirit, throughout his whole life he embodied the fight for the recognition of his identity and the richness of his African roots,” Sarkozy said. “Through his universal call for the respect of human dignity, consciousness and responsibility, he will remain a symbol of hope for all oppressed peoples.”

~~~

From The liberating power of words – interview with poet Aime Cesaire – Interview

Aimé Césaire: I’ve always had the feeling that I was on a quest to reconquer something, my name, my country or myself.

That is why my approach has in essence always been poetic.

Because it seems to me that in a way that’s what poetry is.

The reconquest of the self by the self….

I think it was Heidegger who said that words are the abode of being. There are many such quotations. I believe it was Rene Char, in his surrealist days, who said that words know much more about us than we know about them.

I too believe that words have a revealing as well as a creative function…

The Abbe Gregoire(1), Victor Schoelcher(2) and all those who spoke out and still speak out, who campaigned for human rights without distinction of race and against discrimination, these were my guides in life. They stand forever as representatives of the West’s great outpouring of magnanimity and solidarity, an essential contribution to the advancement of the ideas of practical universality and human values, ideas without which the world of today would not be able to see its way forward. I am forever a brother to them, at one with them in their combat and in their hopes…

I really do believe in human beings. I find. something of myself in all cultures, in that extraordinary effort that all people, everywhere, have made – and for what purpose?

Quite simply to make life livable!

It is no easy matter to put up with life and face up to death.

And this is what is so moving.

We are all taking part in the same great adventure.

That is what is meant by cultures, cultures that come together at some meeting-point….

I think it was in a passage in Hegel emphasizing the master-slave dialectic that we found this idea about specificity. He points out that the particular and the universal are not to be seen as opposites, that the universal is not the negation of the particular but is reached by a deeper exploration of the particular.

The West told us that in order to be universal we had to start by denying that we were black. I, on the contrary, said to myself that the more we were black, the more universal we would be.

It was a totally different approach. It was not a choice between alternatives, but an effort at reconciliation.

Not a cold reconciliation, but reconciliation in the heat of the fire, an alchemical reconciliation if you like.

The identity in question was an identity reconciled with the universal. For me there can never be any imprisonment within an identity.

Identity means having roots, but it is also a transition, a transition to the universal….

We are far removed from that romantic idyll beneath the calm sea. These are angry, exasperated lands, lands that spit and spew, that vomit forth life.

That is what we must live up to. We must draw upon the creativity of this plot of land! We must keep it going and not sink into a slumber of acceptance and resignation. It is a kind of summons to us from history and from nature….

And so I have tried to reconcile those two worlds, because that was what had to be done. On the other hand, I feel just as relaxed about claiming kinship with the African griot and the African epic as about claiming kinship with Rimbaud and Lautreamont – and through them with Sophocles and Aeschylus! …

I have never harboured any illusions about the risks of history, be it in Africa, in Martinique, in the Americas or anywhere else. History is always dangerous, the world of history is a risky world; but it is up to us at any given moment to establish and readjust the hierarchy of dangers. …

At any rate, it is for me the fundamental mode of expression, and the world’s salvation depends on its ability to heed that voice. It is obvious that the voice of poetry has been less and less heeded during the century we have lived through, but it will come to be realized more and more that it is the only voice that can still be life-giving and that can provide a basis on which to build and reconstruct….

* And yet this century has not been one where ethics has triumphed, has it?

A.C.: Certainly not, but one must speak out, whether one is heeded or not; we hold certain things to be fundamental, things that we cling to. Even if it means swimming against the tide, they must be upheld.

In other words, poetry is for me a searching after truth and sincerity, sincerity outside of the world, outside of alien times. We seek it deep within ourselves, often despite ourselves, despite what we seem to be, within our innermost selves.

Poetry wells up from the depths, with explosive force.

The volcano again.

No doubt I have reached the moment of crossing the great divide but I face it imperturbably in the knowledge of having put forward what I see as essential, in the knowledge, if you like, of having called out ahead of me and proclaimed the future aloud.

That is what I believe I have done; somewhat disoriented though I am to find the seasons going backwards, as it were, that is how it is and that is what I believe to be my vocation.

No resentments, none at all, no ill feelings but the inescapable solitude of the human condition. That is the most important thing.

~

1. Henri Gregoire (1750-1831), French ecclesiastic and politician, a leader of the movement in the Convention for the abolition of slavery. Ed.

2. French politician (1804-1893), campaigner for the abolition of slavery in the colonies, Deputy for Guadeloupe and Martinique. Ed.

–The liberating power of words – interview with poet Aime Cesaire – Interview

~~~

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Daisy Fried’s Poetry Exercises
April 2, 2008

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Daisy Fried on Poetry:

* I’ve never found an explanation for why poetry, apparently alone among the art forms, is asked to do more than be itself.

* But poetry’s the High Art which is also democratic: inexpensive, portable, reproducible, quickly consumed (except for epic and very difficult poetry), requiring only literacy to participate. So maybe it’s good that poetry carries this extra burden, even if it means that the idea of poetry is more necessary to people than individual poems, and that people tend not to pay attention to what’s happening on the page. But this doesn’t explain why the superfluous demands are often made by educated poetry experts. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. Why should we make them of poetry in general?

* Words matter. Use is not function. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I’ve used it that way myself, after reading it. The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. So too poetry. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. They lack that rich ambiguity which Keats called negative capability, and so fail as poems. Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do “sniff the air.” There are good 9/11 poems. The degraded Romanticism of the mass of bad ones often amounts to decorative displays of the poet’s own sensibility. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? They seem to claim authenticity for individual experiences derived from watching TV—and fail to ask the question, why do these people want to kill us? Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. I believe 9/11 solace poetry has given support, however indirectly and unintentionally, to the Bush administration. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. Sex pornography has its uses, even positive ones, but nobody confuses it with serious art about love. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they’re making pornography. Shame on them.* Poetry matters. Great poems don’t always fit categories of usage: Martial’s hilariously filthy invectives, Dickinson’s apolitical lyrics, and, despite their stupid fascism, Pound’s Cantos, all function as great poetry. Meanwhile, the four of us write poems. We might begin by intending to be merely useful (I never have). But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. That’s the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? Why exclude ourselves from our own readership?

* Enjoyment matters. Poetry is fun! I mean this seriously. In “Lapis Lazuli,” Yeats insists on the gaiety of human existence alongside its tragedy. Yes, there is terrible suffering; we are all going to die. And when, on the carved lapis lazuli, a man “asks for mournful melodies;/Accomplished fingers begin to play;/…their eyes,/Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.” The gaiety of great poetry reinforces and deepens our humanity. That’s personal—and therefore social. Forget that, and we forget poetry’s true function.

–from “Does Poetry Have a Social Function” @ The Poetry Foundation

~~~

ALSO, listen in on a conversation I had with Daisy Fried HERE: powered by ODEO

~~~

A POEM A DAY BY DAISY FRIED

1. Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.

2. Write a poem that tells a story in 18 lines or less, and includes at least four proper nouns.

3. Write a poem that uses any of the senses EXCEPT SIGHT as its predominant imagery.

4. Write a poem inspired by a newspaper article you read this week.

5. Write a poem without adjectives.

6. Ask your roommate/neighbor/lover/friend/mother/anyone for a subject (as wild as they want to make it) for a ten-minute poem. Now write a poem about that subject in ten minutes; make it have a beginning, a middle and an end.

7. Write the worst poem you possibly can. Now edit it and make it even worse.

8. Poem subject: A wind blows something down. Or else it doesn’t. Write it in ten minutes.

9. Write a poem with each line, or at least many of the lines, filling in the blanks of “I used to________, but now I_________.”

11. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you’d like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best

friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.

12. Write a poem that uses as a starting point a conversation you overheard.

13. First line of today’s poem: “This is not a poem, but…”

14. Write a poem in the form of either a letter or a speech which uses at least six of the following words: horses, “no, duh,” adolescent, autumn

leaves, necklace, lamb chop, Tikrit, country rock, mother, scamper, zap, bankrupt. Take no more than 13 minutes to write it.

15. Write a poem which includes a list or lists-shopping list, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists,

lists of events, lists of names…

16. Poem subject: A person runs where no running is allowed. Write it in ten minutes.

17. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.

18. Write a poem made up entirely of questions. Or write a poem made up entirely of directions.

19. Write a poem about the first time you did something.

20. Write a poem about falling out of love.

21. Make up a secret. Then write a poem about it. Or ask someone to give you a made-up or real secret, and write a poem about it.

22. Write a poem about a bird you don’t know the name of.

23. Write a hate poem.

24. Free-write for, say, 15 minutes, but start with the phrase “In the kitchen” and every time you get stuck, repeat the phrase “In the

kitchen.” Alternatively, use any part of a house you have lots of associations with-“In the garage,” “In the basement,” “In the bathroom,” “In the yard.”

25. Write down 5-10 words that sound ugly to you. Use them in a poem.

26. Write a poem in which a motorcycle and a ballerina appear.

27. Write a poem out of the worst part of your character.

28. Write a poem that involves modern technology-voice mail, or instant messaging, or video games, or… 29. Write a seduction poem in which somebody seduces you.

30. Radically revise a poem you wrote earlier this month.

Nominations To Begin For 2008 Poet Laureate of The Blogosphere
March 30, 2008

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Nominations To Begin For 2008 Poet Laureate of The Blogosphere

 

Billy is pleased to announce that BloggingPoet.com will again host the Poet Laureate Of The Blogosphere Election for the 4th year in a row with nominations beginning April 1, 2008. The Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere is the only laureateship chosen by readers.Previous winners are 2007 Amy King, 2006 Ron Silliman and 2005 Jilly Dybka.

[ . . . . . . . ] Got You Down?
March 29, 2008

A little Sufjan Stevens to shoot you up, “For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti.” Press play, please.~~

But seriously, when was the last time you thought someone or something was beautiful?

Just wonderin’ …

7 Responses to “[ . . . . . . . ] Got You Down?”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 2:07 am eDown Up Beauty?

    The usual nauseau, in all its names and
    peopled places, has me down.
    The potential nears a peak, the ride slows.
    It hurts. So much not-to-be.

    I see beauty most often
    when a face connects.
    There: that moment.

    Sometimes beauty brings blues.
    Something your soul makes a hole for in an instant,
    but you can never have. Those blues.
    A whole life of never in reverse relief.

    But sharing a thought, that moment,
    is beauty. If it is just…what it is, no blues.
    That brings me up.
    What if we could share lots of them?
    What if we used words?

  2. Jim K. Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 4:08 am eAh….. Sufjan Stevens is the artist.
  3. Tim Caldwell Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 5:21 am eSmile
  4. Ana Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 2:47 pm eUm, daily?
  5. Jim K. Says:
    November 3rd, 2007 at 2:19 am eJoseph Arthur is great!

    But dropping Sufjan’s beautiful low-fi piece
    is dropping an obvious showcase item that
    was driving clicks right into amazon to buy
    CDs.
    The record execs don’t even know when they
    are f***ing themselves out of a seat at the table.
    That vid wasn’t suitable fidelity for poaching, it was
    perfect free marketing for albums and tickets.
    That’s sort of beyond the music-stealing issue,
    since it’s just a home-cam job.
    Oh well….the future arrives, with or without them.

  6. Erin Says:
    November 4th, 2007 at 8:57 am eAt a bar tonight sipping stout, watching a woman accompany herself on accordion while she sang so purely it hurt to watch.

    I just asked this question over at the exquisite corpse. It’s a good question to ask. And often. Thank you.

  7. Jim K. Says:
    November 4th, 2007 at 8:32 pm eExcellent moment, Erin. Reminded me of a small concert
    I watched long ago. Stabbed by this one song. The stout
    would have put it over the top.

Arrivederci, Tenore Matrice
March 29, 2008

“I don’t classify myself–I let other do that. If you sing all the roles put in front of you, you are a tenor [as compared to a lyrice tenor or a light lyric tenor]. Punto [period.] If you are also an actor, or a good driver of your voice, if you have personality and a stage presence, personality in life, you become something more than a tenor, more than just a voice.” –Luciano Pavarotti

“People think I m disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.” –Luciano Pavarotti

“I’ve been buying the same lambrusco from Correggio [a town between Reggio-Emilia and Modena] since 1965.” –Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti (October 12, 1935 – September 6, 2007)

5 Responses to “Arrivederci, Tenore Matrice”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    September 6th, 2007 at 6:17 pm eDevotion: posessed of the spirit.
    “It ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it”..
  2. Gary Says:
    September 7th, 2007 at 5:14 pm eBeautiful. Thanks Amy.
  3. Amy King Says:
    September 7th, 2007 at 9:17 pm eWhy it makes me cry, I haven’t figured out.
  4. Jim K. Says:
    September 8th, 2007 at 3:17 am eLook how it posesses even him at the end.
    He has trouble stifling your reaction himself, and he’s sung it so much.
    A moment of emotional transcendence….just from the tone.
    Pretty amazing. (gets kleenex)
  5. SarahJ Says:
    September 9th, 2007 at 1:45 pm elove the quote about devotion.
    nessun dorma is such a gorgeousness

December 11, 1922 – August 22, 2007
March 28, 2008

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I love her stories, which I still teach in my classes, and her pacifist activism was an absolute inspiration.

Peace to Grace Paley and much gratitude.

~~

Interview at Salon.

Another interview at Salon.

NY Times on Paley’s books.

Listen to Paley read and a conversation at UPENN.

~~

“Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.”

“You know the mind is an astonishing, long-living, erotic thing.”

“. . . people will sometimes say, ‘Why don’t you write more politics?’ And I have to explain to them that writing the lives of women is politics.”

–Grace Paley

~~

2 Responses to “December 11, 1922 – August 22, 2007”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    August 24th, 2007 at 12:08 pm eHey….she made the yahoo headlines yesterday.
    Any excerpts of her poetry?
  2. Amy King Says:
    August 24th, 2007 at 7:35 pm eI didn’t really follow her poetry much. I was a fan of her short stories … I’m sure her verse is online.

In Case We Forgot …
March 20, 2008

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The U.S. entered Iraq with bombs ablaze on March 18, 2003 — nearly five years ago. Many Iraqi citizens, living their lives much like we do, were killed in the middle of the night, and for months to come. Until that night, America was at peace with Iraq, and neither country had attacked the other.

The U. N. was in Iraq investigating illegal weapon’s allegations (until we warned them to leave), and U.N. members were in talks with Hussein’s government. Hussein was a bastard, but he was cooperating — and Iraqi citizens were minding the business of their lives, as we were when bombs were hurled upon them in the name of the United States of America and her citizens, us.

Ironically, many facts escaped our senators when they spoke for us and voted to support this atrocity, putting our own soldiers at risk while also giving away our constitutional rights. An important fact that still remains in the background for many of us: most of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia (none were from Iraq or Iran), and the core group, Al Qaeda, had relocated to Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia has been a U.S. “ally” for sometime now. So where do we, the U.S.’s citizens and patriots, stand five years later, knowing what we know, today?

~~

FLASHBACK TO NOW

In 2002, football star, Pat Tillman, and his brother, Kevin Tillman, joined the U.S. Army and served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004 at 27 years of age. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, wrote a powerful, must-read document:

After Pat’s Birthday
Posted on Oct 19, 2006
By Kevin Tillman

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman

~~~