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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Poetry, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 3,772
1. Larry King Performs a ‘Farewell Poem’ For Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson will be leaving The Late, Late Show on December 19th. In honor of Ferguson’s departure, Larry King read a “farewell poem” during his appearance. The video embedded above features King’s full performance—what do you think?

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2. Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreamingby Jacqueline Woodson. Nancy Paulsen Books, published by the Penguin Books. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Woodson uses poetry to tell the story of her childhood, growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. She was born in Ohio; moved to South Carolina; and later to New York City. It's a story of Woodson growing up, and learning more about the world around her, and learning how to process that world using words and stories.

The Good: First, yes, this book is wonderful. Perfect. Amazing. I was so, so happy to see it selected as the National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature. I mean, there is so much out there that already establishes this as terrific, what do I have to add to the conversation?

Brown Girl Dreaming starts with Woodson's birth in 1963:

I am born in Ohio but
the stories of South Carolina already run
like rivers
through my veins.

Brown Girl Dreaming is a look at what shapes one girl, born in Ohio in 1963, following her childhood until about fifth grade. And so on one level, the "obvious" level, it's a book aimed at those who are the child-Woodson's age.

It's also about a young African American girl in the 1960s and 1970s, living both in the South and the North, and her many worlds: the world of immediate family of mother and siblings, the bigger world of grandparents and aunts and uncles, the world of friends and school, and then civil rights and what that meant, or didn't mean. And all those things, while being told by a child, are things that readers of all ages are interested in.

For Brown Girl Dreaming, the age of the protagonist doesn't dictate the age of the reader; rather, the interests of the reader make this book open and of interest to readers of all ages.

So, people like myself -- born just three years after Woodson -- are potential readers. As are older readers who lived during that time. Just because, hey, I also remember watching The Big Blue Marble and singing along to the theme song, even if I did it from New Jersey.

The poetry may make it more accessible for some readers, but that doesn't mean it's easy or simple. Teen readers do like to read about teens -- but it's not the only thing they like to read about. Despite Woodson's age during the time of Brown Girl Dreaming, the things she lives through, her experiences, her world is bigger than her age. A parent's divorce; a move; a new sibling; a sick brother; learning about the world through books; and civil rights; all of this, all of what is in Brown Girl Dreaming, are of interest to all ages. I'd even argue that older readers -- older than ten, anyway -- will get more out of Brown Girl Dreaming because they will understand the references and the emotions in a way that younger readers cannot.

And, finally, selfishly, I don't want this to be it. I want the books that take Woodson further along her journey: Brown Teen Dreaming, Brown Woman Dreaming -- just to suggest a couple of possible titles.

Of course, this is a Favorite Book Read in 2014.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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3. Protesting Injustice Then and Now

ferguson 2In August we wrote to you about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Our publisher said then that the matter of representation was urgent; now, four months later, we see that urgency for what it is: a matter of life or death. Michael Brown’s name now sits alongside new names like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Akai Gurley. How many more names will need to be added before things change?

Protests around the country remind us that we are not in a post-racial society, that inequality is still here. This can be a harrowing reminder, but it is also an important teachable moment for young people. How do we put current events in context and help young people engage in today’s big questions?

In difficult moments, books are often a good starting place for conversation. Books that touch on history can be read with fresh eyes in light of current events. For example, in Love to Langston, author Tony Medina describes when a seventh-grade Langston Hughes in 1914 peacefully protests his teacher’s segregation of black students to one row in the classroom. Even when he is expelled, Hughes fights for what he knows is right and his community joins beside him. The teacher is forced to integrate the classroom:

Jim Crow Row
from Love to Langston
By Tony Medina

In the seventh grade
in Lawrence, Kansas
the teacher puts all
us black kids in the same row
away from all the white kids

I don’t roll my eyes
or suck my teeth
with a heavy heavy sigh
and a why why why

I make signs
that read
that read

Jim Crow Row
Jim Crow Row
we in the Jim Crow Row

Jim Crow is a law
that separates white and black
making white feel better
and black feel left back

So we protest
with our parents
and let everybody
know about

Jim Crow Jim Crow
not allowing us
to grow

Jim Crow Jim Crow
don’t put us in a
Jim Crow Row

Whether it was this event or the lifetime of experiences of racism, Langston Hughes was profoundly transformed and wrote about and advocated for equality and justice throughout his life.

I, Too
By Langston Hughes
From the Poetry Foundation

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

How will today’s children be impacted and awakened as activists by images of and participation in the protesting in Ferguson, New York City, and around the nation? In what ways will this moment and experience affect our children’s lens by which they view the world and influence their life’s purpose or calling? What art will they create to express this moment and themselves?

A photo from one of the recent protests in New York City.

A photo from one of the recent protests in New York City.

Further reading:

Books on Protest:


Filed under: Educator Resources, Race Tagged: African/African American Interest, children's books, diversity, Educators, History, Langston Hughes, poetry, Power of Words, race, Race issues, racism

1 Comments on Protesting Injustice Then and Now, last added: 12/17/2014
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4. Fiction and Poetry Competition: Mississippi Review Prize

Our annual contest awards prizes of $1,000 in fiction and in poetry. Winners and finalists will make up next summer's print issue of the national literary magazine Mississippi Review. Contest is open to all writers in English except current or former students or employees of The University of Southern Mississippi. 

Fiction entries should be 1000-8000 words, poetry entries should be three to five poems totaling 10 pages or less. Please attach as one document. There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit.

Online entry fee is $16 per entry. Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. 

Submit online here.

No manuscripts will be returned. Previously published work is ineligible. Simultaneous submissions are welcomed and encouraged as long as you notify us immediately of acceptance elsewhere. Contest opens August 1. Deadline is January 1st, 2015. Winners will be announced in early March and publication is scheduled for June next year. Entries should have "MR Prize," author name, address, phone, e-mail and title of work on page one.

Key dates:

Contest opens: August 1, 2014
Postmark deadline: January 1st, 2015

Winners and finalists announced: March 2015
Issue publication: June 2015

Paper entries will still be accepted.
Send entries and a check for $15 to:

Mississippi Review Prize
118 College Drive #5144
Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406-0001

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5. Writing Competition: Meridian Editors' Prizes

The 2015 Meridian Editors' Prizes are accepting entries through our Submittable account

The contest deadline is January 7, 2015.

The winning story and the winning poem will both appear in our May 2015 issue, and all submissions will be considered for publication.

Please make sure you are submitting your work to our Editors's Prize Contest reading pools ($8.50 fee) and not our regular year-round submission pools.

Contest Details: 

--We will be selecting a winner in poetry and in fiction, each of which will receive $1000.
--Our entry fee is $8.50

--Entrants receive an electronic version of the journal (.pdf and ePub) rather than a print subscription
--We are only allowing two submissions per entrant
--We believe this lower cost contest model is better for you, and better for us. Rather than having you pay substantial entry fees to cover the cost of a print subscription (and mailing fees), we’re have a lower entry fee and will e-mail you an electronic version of the upcoming January and May issues. Fewer trees, less cost ... and we’ll still have print versions of Meridian available at modest cost for those who like to keep things tangible.
--We expect to announce winners toward the end of March, and all submissions will be considered for publication in Meridian.
--Fiction writers may submit one story of 10,000 words or fewer. Poets may submit up to 4 poems totaling 10 pages or fewer.
--You may only submit two entries per genre–-no more than two fiction submissions and/or two poetry submissions.
--Please submit your work through our Submittable account only. Please leave your name off the manuscript. The Submittable system keeps your contact info linked to your submission (but hides it from our readers, which allows for blind judging). 

Contest Eligibility Rules: 

We try our very best to run as fair and impartial a contest as we can. To that end,
UVA undergraduate alumni who graduated after June 2010 are NOT eligible.
UVA MFA students and alumni are NOT eligible.
Current UVA students, staff, and faculty are NOT eligible.
Former Meridian staff are not eligible. (If you’ve ever been on our masthead, please don’t enter.)
Friends, relatives, and former teachers and students of current Meridian staff or its advisor are not eligible.
Our former Meridian Editors’ Prize winners are not eligible to enter, even if their win was in another genre.
These prizes are not intended for well-established authors. Authors with two or more published books in a genre are not eligible to enter the contest for that genre. This rule does not include chapbook publications. This rule does include self-published books (If it’s been for sale and it was not a chapbook, it counts). You may enter our fiction contest if your published books were in poetry, and vice versa.

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6. Possibly my best idea ever

I struck a deal with the kids: for every new app or game I buy them, they must each memorize a poem. So far, so fabulous. Huck, my little iPad junkie, is shaping up to be a regular minstrel by the time he’s twenty. :)

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7. Neil Gaiman Recites ‘Jabberwocky’ From Memory

Once again, Neil Gaiman agreed to perform a reading of a beloved children’s story for a Worldbuilders fundraising venture. The choices included Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll, Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss, and Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.

‘Jabberwocky’ received the most votes and the organization has raised more than $639,000.00. The video embedded above features Gaiman in the woods delivering a dramatic recitation of Carroll’s famous nonsense poem from memory—what do you think?

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8. Books to Celebrate Emily Dickinson


Today is Emily Dickinson’s 184th birthday. Enjoy this list of books celebrating America’s greatest poet!

Picture Books:
Emily — Michael Bedard
My Uncle Emily — Jane Yolen
Emily and Carlo — Marty Rhodes Figley
The Mouse of Amherst — Elizabeth Spires
Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World — Jeanette Winter
Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson — Frances Schoonmaker Bolin

Coming soon…
On Wings of Words: A Story of Emily Dickinson — Jennifer Berne

Middle Grade:
Hope is a Ferris Wheel — Robin Herrera
Miss Emily — Burleigh Muten
Another Day as Emily — Eileen Spinelli

Young Adult:
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia — Jenny Torrez Sanchez
Nobody’s Secret — Michaela MacColl
Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things — Kathryn Burak



The post Books to Celebrate Emily Dickinson appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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9. Is detective fiction killing us? Gluten-free treats from a good Mexican girl. On-line Floricanto: ¡43 Presente!

Michael Sedano

On November 24 La Bloga-Tuesday published an advance review of “Skin In The Game” without acknowledging the previous day’s announcement in Ferguson, despite jarringly ugly disconnects between reality and fiction.

Sabrina Vourvoulias remarks in her blog, Following the lede, how she feared a pro-cop sci-fi story she wrote might do harm since it would be published a day after the cop who murdered Michael Brown exited stage right, unindicted.

“Skin In The Game” features chicana detective Jimena Villagran, who strides into the heart of Philadelphia’s most dangerous neighborhoods where something is killing people, ripping them open and eating their organs. “Skin’s” dystopic Philadelphia uncomfortably mirrors the city's neighborhoods. Vourvoulias' journalistic eye further enhances the verisimilitude, the kind that gives good sci-fi its unnerving metaphors.

Both author Vourvoulias and publisher Tor worried that glorifying a monster-fightiing cop hero could damage people already tortured by the failure of process. “Skin In The Game” was to be published on December 2, a week following the November 24th announcement in Ferguson.

Vourvoulias believes words take on a life of their own, that people invest stories with meaning beyond the writer’s influence. She didn’t want her story of a good cop fearlessly fighting for Order and the Good to give a punch in the face to a reader working to make sense of systemic perversions of Justice.

“Skin In The Game” published on schedule, December 2, 2014, because, the editor reasoned, there might never be a week free from news of “hideous injustice”. Was that prescience, or experience?

The day following Tor.com’s publication of "Skin In The Game", New York found no reason to indict the cop in the choke hold murder of Eric Garner. But then, that’s a standard Unitedstatesian value: one hundred fifty years ago, Congress declared the November 29 Sand Creek Massacre an atrocity but allowed the commander to walk away unindicted.

Vourvoulias and her publisher resolved their concerns and published despite the clear contradictions between the fiction and the world as we have it. Similarly, La Bloga’s critical response to this work of art limited itself to the self-contained universe of the fiction.

The open issue screams out loud. Cops are not heroes, why does literature glorify them? Is it harmful to a reader to be rooting for the “good” detective to win when every day news abounds with one dead reason after another to distrust cops?

Persuasion research shows that people are drawn toward favorability of dissonant messages when an admired person advocates for the other side. The latitudes of attitude move away from favorability to the source, but toward favoring the issue. That’s in ordinary persuasion, like politics. Fiction can be perniciously influential. Could it be detective fiction is poisoning the common sense and survivability of a person confronted by a trembling cop with a Glock?

Leave a Comment to share your views. You’ll find the Comments link at the bottom of today’s column.

The Gluten-free Chicano
What’s a Good Mexican Girl To Do?

The Gluten-free Chicano has a sweet tooth. Cookies, pies, birthday cakes, conchas, helotes, marranos, polvorones, are all off-limits to Celiacs and others afflicted by gluten intolerance.

Analogs look like edible food but only in one's imagination they're good. Now, poet reina alejandra prado has found what appears to be a productive way to indulge a  Celiac's sweet tooth. Prado is the Good Mexican Girl in the eponymous bakery.

Click the link to visit the Good Mexican Girl, an artisanal bakery specializing in unique flavor profiles, says the website.

GMG's website observes, "The cornerstone of our business is a cookie - the one I call 'throw me a wedding shower' cookie, most popularly known as the Mexican wedding cookie or Russian teacake. It's buttery, nutty and just scrumptious with a hint of lemon and sweetness from the powder sugar. We made the original Gluten Free Mexican Wedding Cookie."

Here's the origins of the GMG's commitment to the Gluten-free community:

Several years ago, I learned about a gluten-free diet first from my friend Maya. She had to change her diet after under going a series of tests. After I underwent a food cleanse where I could not eat any foods prepared with enriched flour or wheat bread, I became more conscious of what is gluten-free. My awareness of the need for gluten-free products became more pronounced with my business. Clients would ask if I had gluten-free options. In November, with the pan de muerto (Day of Dead Bread), I baked our first gluten-free product.

We continued to produce gluten-free treats with the traditional Mexican sweet bread La Rosca de Reyes and with Mexican Wedding Cookies.

It’s been a joy to meet virtually and in person other Latinas who haven’t been able to eat their favorite sweet breads and now can happily enjoy them again in gluten-free form."

The Gluten-free Chicano isn't uncritical about GMG products, especially the claim "We can make any baked good with gluten-free flour. We make our flour blend that includes Rice Flour or Brown Rice Flour, (whichever one is available), Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, and Xanthum Gum."

"Any" certainly is possible. But as noted, analogs suck, so the Gluten-free Chicano is not ever again buying "bread" or "cake" or "pie crust" made to be gluten-free. The cookies, now that's a different matter.

Full disclosure: The Gluten-free Chicano enjoys Prado's poetry but has yet to taste her cooking. When he finally has the opportunity to scarf down some GF galletas, La Bloga will report the Good Mexican Girl's success. If it's sweet and dunkable, I'm sure I'll like it. I hope I like it. Oh please.

Faltamos 43! On-line Floricanto
Frank Acosta, Ivonne Gordon Carrera, Tara Evonne, Victor Avila, Xico González

“Warrior Poets Rise (Sovereignty, Justice, Peace)” by Frank Acosta
“AYOTZINAPA” Por Ivonne Gordon Carrera
“Mezcla,” by Tara Evonne
"El Pañuelo Negro" por Victor Avila
"Semillas de Ayotzinapa" by Xico González

Warrior Poets Rise (Sovereignty, Justice, Peace)
by Frank Acosta

The stories are blood flowing thru you
Our people’s truth, worthy to be told
In solidarity, set us free to awaken
The strumming of dormant heart-chords
Searching for sacred songs of purpose
Your words are those of the ancestor’s
Spirit voice returning in wisdom
Your offerings of soulful flor y canto
The silenced stanza of a departed child’s poem
Verses of the lost, to violence, ignorance, greed
Tyrannical avarice would still humanity for gold
Shackled deep inside the belly of the beast
Songs, poems, & prayers of the warrior poet
A confluence of hearts, minds, and souls
Flesh & spirit, present & past, one great circle
Let word and deeds flow in transformative love
Sentinels of sovereignty and sanctity of all creation

Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. In 2007, he authored, The History of Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence, published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His professional experience includes serving in executive leadership positions with The California Wellness Foundation, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), the Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. He is presently focused on completing the writing and publishing a two book series for Arte Publico Press focused on best practices to improve the well-being of Latino young men and boys. Acosta most recently co-authored a published “Brown Paper” with Jerry Tello of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI) entitled, “Lifting Latinos Up by Their Rootstraps: Moving Beyond Trauma Through a Healing-Informed Framework for Latino Boys and Men.” Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-focused institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. He is also finalizing writing and editing a book of inter-cultural poetry and spiritual reflections.

Por Ivonne Gordon Carrera

Ayotzinapa, hace poco no podía pronunciar tu nombre.
Ahora no sólo lo pronuncio, no sólo lo repito,
sino que es una herida abierta en la tierra.
Es una violación de la tierra, 43 hijos
de vientres heridos claman, Ayotzinapa
ya no es una palabra, ya no es un lugar.
Ayotzinapa es un monumento a la violencia,
es un campamento de jardines descompuestos.
Es un grito, un aullido, es cicatriz
y carne viva. Ya basta.
Ya nos cansamos
de tanto ataúd y vitrina.

© Ivonne Gordon Carrera (2014)

by Ivonne Gordon Carrera

Ayotzinapa, not long ago I could not pronounce your name.
Now I pronounce it, now I repeat it,
now it is an open wound of the earth.
The ground has been raped, 43 sons
of wounded wombs cry out. Ayotzinapa,
it is no longer a word, it is no longer a place.
Ayotzinapa is a monument of violence,
It is a camp of decomposed gardens.
It is a yell, a howl, it is a scar
of live flesh. Enough, we have become tired
of caskets and showcases.

© Ivonne Gordon Carrera (2014)

by Tara Evonne

I became
the mix
of all those
before me
las abuelitas
enduring me
de méjico
y españa
my mix
of dark
and light
all I’ve ever
to be true
my red heart
beating brown
never did I
this corazón
when distraught
a daughter
trusting life
somewhere else
when flying
I became torn
my parts
the effects
of long term
generational genocide
buried under
the rubble
of mankind
all my relations
praying alongside
to protect
women and children
I became
the written
across maps
of great divides
hate created
by mankind
I became
the shooting star
tearing across
early dawn sky
a woman kind
of star dusting
for others
to follow
the collective
of survival.

Tara Evonne Trudell is a recent graduate with her BFA in Media Arts from New Mexico Highlands University.  While in school she developed a passion in combining the many forms of multi media with poetry to address social issues. In this process she discovered her own purpose and commitment to using these medias to create art and movement. It has become her goal to offer work that instills and emotional impact in the viewer. Her work can be viewed at www.taraevonnetrudell.com

"El Pañuelo Negro"
por Victor Avila

para mg

Porque yo no tenía
el poder de un gobierno corrupto detrás de mí,
O la farsa de un medio cobarde
que no pudo hablar la verdad en mi nombre.
Porque me habían amenazado
a punta de pistola pensando
que sería suficiente
para garanitzar mi silencio - O porque muchos habían desaparecido ya
que iba a tener demasiado miedo a levantar la voz.
Pero hoy me di cuenta" ¿Qué otra cosa pueden hacer me a mí
que aún no lo han hecho?"
Las madres de Juárez claman por sus
Hijas asesinados
Y los fantasmas de los hombres olvidados
persigan el puente donde les colgaron.
¿Qué más pueden hacer me? Se llevaron todo de mí
y eso fue su mayor error
porque también tomaron mi miedo.
Y ahora que ya no estoy asustado…
Si yo no hable hasta ahora
sólo tengo yo la culpa
cuando la policía venga llamar a mi puerta.
¿Son esos sus mismos camiones que se aproximan? Y este simple pedazo de tela
alguna vez insignificante y que ahora significa algo más.
Saludo con la mano en la cara de esos cobardes que tomaron los 43
Enojado levanto en mi puño agitándolo, agitándolo.
Ya no voy a utilizarlo para enjugar mis lágrimas
o los de mis hermanos y hermanas.
Es mi bandera para enfrente a enormes obstáculos.
Si me voy del mundo sepan que no estoy derrotado,
que México no esta derrotado,
y que nos traerá los 43 a casa.

Victor Avila is an award-winning poet. Recent work has been included in the anthology Overthrowing Capitalism and Revolutionary Poets Brigade-Los Angeles. Victor is also the writer and illustrator of the series Hollywood Ghost Comix.  Volume Two will be available on Ghoula Press in February of 2015.  He has taught in California public schools for twenty five years.  This is his eighteenth appearance in La Bloga and would like to thank the moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070 for that honor.

"Semillas de Ayotzinapa"
by Xico González

"Nos querían enterrar
pero no sabían que éramos semillas."

Sol, tierra, agua,
cuerpo- semilla rebelde
que enterraron
para luego brotar como rabia y rebeldía

Casas campesinas están tristes
Lágrimas corren por las milpas
porque los elotes salados
de tristeza y dolor
fueron cortados verdes
con machetes amellados
en manos bruscas y ladronas
que no perdonará Dios

Ese maíz nunca llegará a ser nixtamal,
masa o tortillas
Ni nutrirá las mentes y las almas
de jóvenes guerrerenses

Mujeres del color de la tierra
no tocarán a ese maíz
con sus delicadas manos
ni lo purificarán en el metate

Las milpas extrañarán a esas mazorcas
por el resto de sus días
Oh, frutos de vida
decansen en la madre tierra
hasta volver a brotar
y calmar el hambre de justicia de nuestro pueblo.

Educator, artist, poet, and a political/cultural activista based in Sacramento, California.

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10. Citizen

Earlier this year I read and very much enjoyed Claudia Rankine’s book Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. Rankine is a poet whose poetry is written in prose. It has taken me a while to figure this out and I am not certain why. I am used to seeing a prose poem now and then in a poetry collection but an entire book of prose poetry? It puts me off balance. I think it probably does many people because I remember back in college a favorite professor scoffing at the idea that there could even be such a thing as a prose poem.

In the case of Rankine’s newest book of poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric, one is thrown off balance just looking at the cover: stark white with a black fabric thing of some kind. Looking closely the black fabric thing is the hood part of a hoodie. The hoodie became a national conversation piece when Trayvon Martin was shot and murdered by George Zimmerman in 2012. Once past the unsettling cover, comes the prose poetry illustrated with the occasional photograph or illustration.

The poems are about being black in a racist country. They are all written in second person which I can imagine inspires a community feeling for a black reader. For this white reader the “you” pulled me in and forced me to see the world from a different perspective. Sometimes it was uncomfortable. Most of the time I was sad, heartbroken even, and angry over the injustice:

The man at the cash register wants to know if you think your card will work. If this is his routine, he didn’t use it on the friend who went before you. As she picks up her bag, she looks to see what you will say. She says nothing. You want her to say something — both as witness and as friend. She is not you; her silence says so.

The racism in the poems is most often of the every day sort, the small things that happen all the time whether on purpose or through ignorance, the kinds of things that a person privileged with white skin never has to think about.

On the train the woman standing makes you understand there are no seats available. And, in fact, there is one. Is the woman getting off at the next stop? No, she would rather stand all the way to Union Station.

The space next to the man is the pause in a conversation you are suddenly rushing to fill. You step quickly over the woman’s fear, a fear she shares. You let her have it.

The man doesn’t acknowledge you as you sit down because the man knows more about the unoccupied seat than you do.

While most of the poems deal with the every day, there are others that take on more publicized racism. I very much liked the series of poems about Serena and Venus Williams, beautiful women (I love their muscles!) and amazing tennis players who have been the victims on racism both on and off the court. There is also a series of poems described as situation scripts for video in collaboration with Rankine’s husband John Lucas. You can see one of these videos, “Stop and Frisk” as well as a video or Rankine reading one of her other poems from Citizen in a PBS article about Rankine and her poetry. Several of the scripts are about the violent deaths of black men, but also about other things like Hurricane Katrina and last summer’s World Cup.

The poems are short and powerful. The writing lyrical and beautiful. This is a timely book. An important book. It is a book I think people of all colors should read, but especially those of us who are white. As a woman I know what it is like to be part of an oppressed group. As a white woman I have privilege that black women do not have. I vaguely know this but haven’t spent much time thinking about it. I haven’t had to, that’s what privilege gets me. But ever since reading Citizen I have been thinking about it. It’s an eye opening book that will be sticking with me for a long time to come.

Every day your mouth opens and receives the kiss the world offers, which seals you shut though you are feeling sick to your stomach about the beginning of the feeling that was born from understanding and now stumbles around in you — the go-along-to-get-along tongue pushing your tongue aside. Yes, and your mouth is full up and the feeling is still tottering —

Filed under: Books, Nonfiction, Poetry, Reviews Tagged: Claudia Rankine

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11. Call for Submissions: Off the Coast

Off the Coast is accepting submissions for the Winter 2015 issue.

Deadline: December 15, 2014
Send us your poetry, artwork & photos and poetry books for review via Submittable.

Editorial decisions are not made until after the December 15 deadline. Notifications will go out early to mid-January. Contributors receive one free copy. Additional copies of the issue their work appears in available for half the cover price.


Send 1-3 previously unpublished poems, any subject or style, using our submission manager.
Postal submissions with SASE with sufficient postage for return.
Please include contact information and brief bio with submission.
We accept simultaneous submissions, but please inform us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.

Photos & Artwork:
We accept B&W graphics and photos to grace the pages of Off the Coast, and color or B&W for the cover.

Send 3-6 images in tiff, png or jpg format with 300 ppi minimum resolution. Images in portrait orientation work best for the journal.
Please use submission manager to send artwork.

Reviews: For reviews, send a single copy of a newly published poetry book. Please send bound books only, we do not review chapbooks.

Mail to:

Off the Coast
PO Box 14
Robbinston, ME 04671

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12. NYPL to Host the ‘Emily Dickinson: Musician and Poet’ Exhibit

nyplThe New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is hosting the “Emily Dickinson: Musician and Poet” exhibition. It celebrates Dickinson’s connection to music and how music has influenced her as a writer.

Curators collected letters and poems for this display. This pop-up exhibit will open on December 10, 2014 (Dickinson’s 184th birthday) and close on March 06, 2015.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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13. Call for Submissions from Writers with Whidbey Connections: Whidbey Writes

Whidbey Writes is a collaboration between the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts and Whidbey Life Magazine. Its purpose is to encourage writers with a Whidbey connection to submit short fiction and poetry for publication in the online and print versions of Whidbey Life Magazine. The program is an outgrowth of the Whidbey Island Writers Association's annual "Spirit of Writing Contest," which was founded by Dorothy (Dot) Read in 2000.

Writers can submit their work for consideration anytime. An editorial board will review submissions quarterly and pass the best work on to Whidbey Life for publication online.

Whidbey Life will monitor how many views and comments each submission that it publishes online receives. The poem or short story with the most views and comments will be published in the annual print edition of Whidbey Life Magazine. The author of this piece will receive a free one-year membership to the Whidbey Island Writers Association (a $50 value) as well as five free copies of the printed magazine (a $25 value).

Once a year, a reading that celebrates all the writers whose short fiction or poetry was published in Whidbey Life will take place at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts.

For submission guidelines, or to submit your work for review, click here.

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14. Harlem Hellfighters

Harlem Hellfighters   by J. Patrick Lewis illustrated by Gary Kelley Creative Editions, 2014 ISBN: 9781568462462 Grades 6 and up The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her local library. Former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, has released a powerful, new picture book. The book introduces middle grade and teen readers to the15th New York National Guard or Harlem

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15. ’14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes’ Poetry Video Goes Viral

Doc Luben wrote a poem called “14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes.” He recited the piece at the Individual World Poetry Slam.

The Button Poetry YouTube channel posted a video (embedded above) featuring Luben’s performance and it has since drawn over 29,000 views. Follow this link to read the full text.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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16. Mary Oliver: What I’m Giving

At Powell's, we feel the holidays are the perfect time to share our love of books with those close to us. For this special blog series, we reached out to authors featured in our Holiday Gift Guide to learn about their own experiences with book giving during this bountiful time of year. Today's featured giver [...]

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17. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen is a stunning book. Before I could even read a word (and believe me, ever since I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was in high school, in which Holden Caulfield discusses the fate of the fish in the lagoon near Central Park South when it freezes over, I have been intrigued by how certain animals survive winter, and was

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18. Interior Gongs Puro Fun. News 'n Notes. On-line Floricanto

This Is For Puro Fun - Throwback Tuesday

Michael Sedano

It’s after midnight when the phone rings. Time for a study break, she commands. I head out for a neighbor’s apartment building, gratified for the distraction from the term paper.

My knuckles tap shave-and-a-haircut on the front door then I listen for someone inside to stomp the floor twice, or call out in two-bits rhythm “come in!” Nothing.

They laugh a lot behind the green door. I hear excited shouts of “Wow!” and "Uu, groovy." People talked like that in 1966. The door's unlocked.

I push open the door to see five people bent at the waist, fingers in their ears, dancing weirdly and laughing wildly. They are swinging wire coat hangars that dangle from their necks, gyrating side to side in a manic dance, striking the wire against furniture and shouting in pleasure.

Interior Gongs

That was my introduction to Interior Gongs.

Undergraduate study breaks went like that sometimes. Wild and out of left field. There was the night we levitated the drama starlet who later ran off with a professor. And the night the swamp creature freaked us out. But those are transitory events, like the night Greco taught Bob Dylan to do the dog. You had to be there.

Nowadays, gente just push buttons on their $500 telephone and replay a movie of everything. Interior Gongs are "old tech" bordering on quintessential rasquasche. In fact, eschewing luxury you'll find few cheaper and easier ways to pass time come that brief December day when weather locks you inside--or during Dead Week and Finals study breaks--than Interior Gongs.

Fashioning Interior Gongs as a group activity gets everyone involved from the git-go, no gloomy gus sitting around watching. Once everyone is swinging their Interior Gongs, even the most curmudgeonly will jump in and do the dance.

1 ea wire coathangar.
1 ea sewing thread.

Untwist the hook end of the wire coat hangar and pull apart the ends to form a wire U.
Hangars with cardboard tubes are ready-to-tie by removing the tube. Plus, they have half-loop ends.
Measure an arm’s length of thread and cut to length.
Tie the string to the open ends of the wire. Bend over the wire to ensure the string doesn’t slip off.

Using Your Interior Gongs
Wear the string over your head and across your ears.
Position string across a thumb or finger tip and gently press and hold the string in the ear hole.
Bend slightly at the waist to allow the Interior Gongs to hang freely.
Move your shoulders slowly side-to-side until the wire strikes a solid object.

To observers, the action is silent. Your ears are filled with mighty reverberating peals.

Interior Gongs makes a great holiday gift! Make six of them and give as a matched set.

Artist Sale at Ma Art Space

Yolanda Gonzalez' studio resides in a quiet industrial park. It's worth the easy drive from anywhere in Southern California. Heck, the quality of art and jewelry at the annual event makes a drive from Arizona or Texas worthwhile.

Gonzalez' paintings command major league prices because they are major league works. She also has smaller pieces and ceramics that have Yolanda Gonzalez style without the MOMA prices.

Luring me to Gonzalez' space is the rare opportunity to see Sergio Flores' silver and gold wearable sculpture. Flores brings three cases filled with pins, aretes, necklaces, bracelets, rings. He work features gems like amethyst, ruby, tourmaline, coral, onyx, fire opals of incredible brilliance. Sergio will design custom pieces. I ask him to convert pierced earrings to clips for my wife's ears.

Gonzalez' niece has a tabletop where she sells watercolors and ceramics. I am going to pick up at least one of her black ceramic skulls for my calaveras collection.

Located at 800 South Palm Ave #1 Alhambra CA 91803, Alhambra, California (626) 975-4799, Ma Art Space is just south of a large Costco so if you've driven from Texas you can gas up at Costco.

San Antonio
Aztlán Libre Celebrates Two New Collections

Los Angeles
La Palabra Lines Up Poet Laureate & Friends

La Bloga friend Karineh Mahdessian writes:

We are completing my first year of becoming the hostess with the mostest. What better way than to celebrate but to welcome black man of happiness, Peter J. Harris, poet laureate of Los Angeles Luis Javier Rodriguez and singer of Las Cafeteras Hector Flores.

Our circle will be round. Our open mic will be open. I will smile, hug and laugh.

Please bring money to purchase the new poetry Bless the Ashes publishes by Tia Chucha Press.

On-line Floricanto: ¡Faltamos 43! 
Alma Luz Villanueva, Paul Aponte, Francisco X. Alarcón, Felix García, Graciela Vega

December opens with five poets joining voices with last month's 13 for Ayotzinapa On-line Floricanto. As with last month, the poems are nominated by Moderators of the Facebook group, Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance.

"Forty-three Lost Sons, Each One" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"No estamos lejos de mi México" por Paul Aponte
"Ayotzinapa Haikus & Tankas" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"El corrido de los 43 estudiantes" por Felix García
"Itzpapalotl: Prayer for the Dead" by Graciela Vega

Forty-three Lost Sons, Each One
by Alma Luz Villanueva

La Llorona y Coatlique,
weeping mother,
skull mother,
dangerous, alive mothers,

magical mothers,
furious mothers,
tender mothers,
raging mothers,

mothers of life
and death
and birth
and rebirth,

give birth to our lost
43 sons, you know
their names,
each one,

sing their
each one,

their names,
each one,
remember their

each one,
our 43 lost
sons who wait
at your womb

gate, give
them light,
give them

each one.

**To the 43 so young men teachers
in training, massacred in their
Mexico lindo y querido--we will
remember each one.

Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...
Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, 'Soft Chaos' (2009)- and a new collection, 'Gracias,' to be published in 2015. A few poetry anthologies: 'The Best American Poetry, 1996,' 'Unsettling America,' 'A Century of Women's Poetry,' 'Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World.' Four novels: 'The Ultraviolet Sky,' 'Naked Ladies,' 'Luna's California Poppies,' and the most recent, 'Song of the Golden Scorpion.' The short story collection, 'Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories.' Some fiction anthologies: '500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century,' 'Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America,' 'Coming of Age in The 21st Century,' 'Sudden Fiction Latino, and 'Prayers for a Thousand Years.' The poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past sixteen years.
     Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past nine years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on stories and memoir, always the poetry, memory.

"No estamos lejos de mi México"
por Paul Aponte

Hoy quitan las vendas de sus ojos,
desvisten los susurros, sueltan su gran voz,
y su son quiebra el cristal transparente de sus gobernantes.

¡Poder a mi México!

La música de mí México es bellísima:
Amistades por doquier, fiestas por cualesquier,
vecindades entretejidas en sarapes coloridos.
Valentía de sobras, y familias de obras.
Trabajadores de gran ética,
y pueblos de gran estética.
Posibilidades económicas para cantar,
y todos listos para subir a su albar.

La música de mi México es bellísima
y el tiempo de acción es hoy!

Traigan su música a los pasillos gubernamentales,
y con su música limpien esas sillas, paredes, escalones y pisos
y sáquenle brillo – un hoy y futuro nuevo.
La revolución de renovación.
El águila devorándose a la serpiente.

Erradiquen las palabras altisonantes,
las frases elocuentes que dicen nada,
y las explicaciones exculpatorias
para que la frase de arriba desaparezca.

Si nomás “tomás” -
te vas al “arrás”!

El nuevo lema.

Los que sí quieren justicia,
los que sí quieren la paz para todo mexicano,
los que sí practican lo de Don Benito Juárez,
los que sí escuchan a los Emilianos Zapatas,
los que sí toman acciones para un mejor México,
los que sí están listos para librar la música de México,
son los que deben
dar liderazgo a México.

México grita por justicia.
México somos todos.
México somos 43.
México mide 43x43.
México llueve 43,
un número primo,

Paul Aponte is a Chicano poet from Sacramento, California USA. Paul, was a member of the performance poetry group "Poetas Of The Obsidian Tongue" in the 90's, and now is a member of "Escritores del Nuevo Sol". He is the author of the book of poetry "Expression Obsession" published in 1999, and has been published in "La Bloga" and in the book "Un Canto De Amor A Gabriel Garcia Márquez"

facebook website:

"Ayotzinapa Haikus & Tankas"
by Francisco X. Alarcón

o burning fire
o flower of words –

“Ayotlinapa” —
great Pregnant Turtle
weeps for her sons

* * * * * * * * * *

oh fuego vivo
oh flor de palabras —

“Ayotlinapa” —
gran Tortuga Preñada
llora por sus hijos

"El corrido de los 43 estudiantes"
por Felix García

Cuarenta y tres estudiantes,
De noche se los llevaron
Policias municipales
Al narco los entregaron
En presencia de soldados
Se hicieron que no miraron.

Amí no me queda duda
Es terrorismo de estado
Tres niveles de gobierno
Estaban involucrados
Con sus narcos militares
Y el crimen organizado.

Masacre de Ayotzinapa
No eres un caso aislado
En Acapulco copreros
Cayeron asesinados
Por pistolero a sueldo
Pagados por el estado.

Narco estado mexicano
Represivo y criminal
De Ayotzinapa, Aguas Blancas
Sin olvidarnos de Acteal
Son genocidios de estado
De lesa humanidad.

Nos han cerrado la lucha
Pacífico, electoral
Sólo nos queda un camino
Que es la guerra popular
La autodefensa del pueblo
De la bota militar.

De insensato, irrresponsable
Vas a llamar mi corrido
Si no tomamos a las armas
Nos van a quemar los niños
En Hermosillo, Sonora
La justicia nunca vino.

Guerra sucia no ha parado
En este estado costero
Desde los años 70s
No encuentran los guerrilleros
1200 camaradas
Del estado de Guerrero.

La normal de Ayotzinapa
Tiene principios muy finos
Lucio y Genaro salieron
A defender campesinos
Genaro Vázquez y Carmelo
Te vigilan el camino.

43 estudiantes
Son hijos del mundo entero
Con un diluvio de amor
Te esperamos con anhelo
Con cantos de libertad
Desde tu pueblo sincero.

Vuela, vuela palomita
Palomita de la paz
Si vivos se los llevaron
Vivos deben regresar
Tlateloco los espera
Pa’ que vengan marchar.

"Itzpapalotl: Prayer for the Dead"
by Graciela Vega

A poem for our 43 young sons
whose dreams were cut before the harvest

Tzinaka call into the night
prayers for the dead
Tzinaka call into the night
prayers for the dead
Search for our babies
until we have them again

Tzinaka flex your muscles
sparrow wing soar
Tzinaka flex your muscles
sparrow wing soar
Safe in our homes
to laugh and play

Tzinaka find our disappeared
with your night voice
Tzinaka find our disappeared
with your night voice
locate their injured bodies
to give us peace.

© Graciela Vega

Graciela Vega Cendejas born in Michoacán, Mexico and raised in the Central Coast. She earned a BA both in Film and Video Production and Gender and Feminist Studies. An artist, organizer, educator and cultural promoter Graciela Vega is raising her two children, promoting the arts with Hijos Del Sol Arts, arts non-profit and teaching in a dual-immersion program at Alianza Charter School in Watsonville, CA.
Following the example of the National Writing Project philosophy, Graciela Vega models writing in her classroom alongside her middle school students.

On-line Floricanto Bonus

On Friday last week, Manuel Ramos marked the completion of our tenth year. Xánath Caraza, who shares los Monday with Daniel Olivas, contributed a poem that has since become a You Tube hit. Click the link here to read along with the poet as she reads Aterrizando en St. Louis, Missouri 
por Xánath Caraza.

Today is the first Tuesday of La Bloga's Eleventh Year. A day like any other day, except you are here. Thank you for reading La Bloga.

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19. Slam Poet Performs a Piece in Response to the Ferguson Tragedy

Danez Smith, an author and poet, wrote a piece in response to the tragedy in Ferguson called “Not an Elegy for Mike Brown.” Smith recited the poem during the preliminary rounds at the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam.

The Button Poetry YouTube channel posted a video (embedded above) featuring Smith’s performance earlier this month and it has since drawn more than 17,000 views. What do you think? (via Upworthy)

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20. The Collected Poems of James Laughlin

Fall has brought us a true gift in the publication of the massive The Collected Poems of James Laughlin, published by New Directions in an exceptionally beautiful hardcover edition. The book includes an inexhaustible number of poems, in a lovely 1,214(!) page tome. Laughlin is best known as the founder of New Directions Publishing, the [...]

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21. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold Poems written by Newbery Honor Award Winner, Joyce Sidman; Illustrations by Rick Allen Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014 ISBN: 9780547906508 All ages; birth to infinity. To write this review, I borrowed a copy from my local public library. I am writing this review on the morning after a nasty snowstorm that caused massive power outages here in the

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22. Scroobius Pip Crafts Poem in Praise of Libraries

Are you a fan of libraries? Scroobius Pip (pictured, via), a spoken word poet and hip hop artist, crafted a poem to praise these beloved public institutions.

The video embedded above features an animated clip of Pip’s piece commissioned by Chris Hawkins for BBC 6 Music. What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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23. Literary Triggers

Olga García Echeverría


This past October, Wendy Oleson, Pat Alderete, Cheryl Klein, Bronwyn Mauldin, and I gathered in the lobby of the North Hollywood Laemmle's. It was a Wednesday night, and we had come to participate in the NoHo Lit Crawl. From the onset, the allocated space for our reading seemed awkward. A narrow strip of carpeted hallway had been reserved and bordered off by retractable belt barriers. Yet despite feeling a bit corralled, we (both the readers and our audience) managed to successfully squeeze in and do what we had come to do—participate in a literary event, The LA Word: Exploded Guns.
No real guns exploded that night in the lobby of the movie theater, but around the world bullets were blasting, thundering, ricocheting through time and space.
Guns are not the source of all evil, we know. There are other evils. Greed. Racism. Misogyny. Classism. Homophobia. The quest for domination and power. But the gun (fueled by these other evils) has been and continues to be a tool used for some of the most heinous crimes committed against humanity. The legacy of gun violence in the Americas can be traced directly back to colonization. When the Europeans first conquered and “settled” the Americas, they brought with them the mighty gunpowder. The West was “won” with the help of guns. What would Manifest Destiny be without guns? Entire peoples and nations have been subjugated and enslaved at gun point.
Despite the common misconception that the passage of time = progress, gun-culture today is alive and thriving, interweaved into every aspect of American society, transcending race and class (one has only to examine the numerous suburban school shootings perpetrated by White males to realize this). We are a culture that glories guns on TV, in movies, in music, in video games, in toy manufacturing, in our weapon industries, and, of course in our legislation. The sale of high-powered weapons to other countries, even when illegal, goes mostly unnoticed and unchallenged. And despite the growing number of people who support gun control, the powers-that-be in this country, seem to remind us all: Don't mess with “our” Right to Bear Arms or we'll shoot you!
In the midst of all the gunpowder, The LA Word: Exploded Guns was merely a moment to pause and reflect. These short excerpts from our reading in October are literary snapshots of the casualties of the American gun culture. We share them with you today.

The first selection is from a ghazal poem written by Bronwyn Mauldin. Every title included in her poem is a gun model taken from an actual gun catalog. The names of these guns speak volumes: 
Rodeo cowboy action, colt mustang, wild bunch,
Saddle shorty, Indian bureau rifle.

Lady derringer, ladysmith, Baronesse Stutzen,
Brittany side-by-side, lightweight stalking rifle.

Multipurpose weapon, executive carry,
Professional success, business rifle.

Predator, super X pump marine defender,
Versa max zombie, counter-terrorist rifle.

Dissipator, downsizer, decocker,
Persuader, enforcer, traveler takedown rifle.
The following selection is from a prose piece written by Pat Alderete.
          Ronnie lay on the ground, blood pouring from the gunshot wound in his 15 year old forehead. The blood was pooling around his head with big red clots mixed in. He moved slightly, as though his body was very heavy, and started vomiting. His eyes opened weakly but he didn’t say anything.
The paramedics got there at the same time that Ronnie’s mother, Rita, arrived. She inched her way carefully through the crowd, growing more nervous as people dropped their eyes as she came into sight. Spotting her son laying on the dirty pavement, she threw back her head and wailed, kneeling by his feet. The paramedics grabbed their cases and started wrapping gauze around Ronnie’s head but I could see the utter hopelessness on their faces. You didn’t have to be a doctor to know Ronnie was bad off.
          Princess, who was 8 years old and had a crush on Ronnie, was sobbing uncontrollably, snot running into her mouth, her tears washing clean spots on her face.
“Some car drove by,” Princess cried, “and when I heard the bang I looked up and saw the blood spurting outta his head!”
          The paramedics lifted Ronnie onto a gurney and put him in the ambulance, Rita climbing in with him. Princess pounded on the door but they pulled away. We stared as the ambulance turned up the street, its tires and siren screeching. Dumbly I turned towards the sound of water and realized that the man in whose yard this had happened had a water hose and was washing the blood and vomit off his lawn. I watched it drain into the sewer like so much trash and I felt my stomach get tight and my head get light. I wanted to cry but I bit my lip and forced myself not to, even though it would of been okay since I was only a girl.
The next piece is an excerpt from, “Hey, Little Man,” written by Cheryl Klein.
          There are five of them in the car, four heavy black weapons, a few dozen tattoos. Jordan feels like a weapon. There is a spring coiled in his chest. There are devil horns tattooed on his shaved head, and a word like a brand across the back of his skull.
          “Move, you crowding me,” grouches Tiny Ninja, who has the middle seat. He is the newest and youngest. Last summer, Jordan had the middle seat. He’d felt like a kid stuffed into a parent’s car on the way to the movies, and he’d secretly been fine with that. Now he is bigger. When he doesn’t feel like dealing with the streets, he stays in his room eating chicharrones. He has a belly pressing against the waistband of his boxers.
          “You move,” Jordan says. “Stop trying to touch me where my bathing suit covers.”
The other guys in the car laugh. “Fuck you,” Tiny Ninja says.
          They turn onto the street where their enemies hang off porches and take girls down alleys. It looks like their own street. Government brick and metal window frames from the 1950s, sidewalks veined with weeds, tsking grandmas pinching clothes onto clotheslines, smug in their own quiet violence. It looks the same, but it feels different. A parallel universe where everything is just a little lopsided, or brighter, where alleys hang left instead of right.
          Who will make himself a target first? Who will step away from his kid or his mama or his six homies? Jordan holds his gun just below the rolled-down window. On the street, people look without looking. Everyone knows why they’re here.
          A guy Jordan knows as Painter offers himself to them. He’s on Jordan’s side of the car, between the pistol’s bloodhound nose and an open garage.
          Painter is his. He is glad. And also, he is sinking. It’s not as if anyone really gets away with it. You go to jail or your enemies find you. He doesn’t mean to pause before squeezing his index finger, but his homies are yelling and grumbling. They’re following a script, but maybe they’re glad, too. For the pause. Because prison is one thing and murder is another.
          The bullet skims that line. Past one parked car, through the windshield of another, so close behind Painter’s head that it would make ripples in his hair if he had any.
          Jordan is as surprised as anyone. In the gap of time between the rise of his arm and the embedding of the bullet in old Señora Castillo’s flower box, his devil horns sprout. They push against his skull and then his skin, emerging sharp and bloody. There is no turning back. There is a box he will have to check on job applications for the rest of his life, and no nice girl will ever love him again, but technically, no one dies.
This is an excerpt from my prose-poem, “Flores for Brisenia”
The morning radio speaks of wars, “over there,” far away. And here? The roosters started crowing at the break of dawn. I’m in the kitchen imagining the falling of a bomb. Ceiling blasted into smithereens. Sparrows murdered in their trees. It’s the radio making me imagine the silencing of songs, the crumpling of walls. There are the walls of people’s homes being knocked down. And the walls of nation-empires being built. Everywhere. Apartheid walls. Border walls. Prison walls. Memorial walls. Which remind me of how we like to make monuments of things we kill. Soldiers. Children running down the streets with angry stones, fighting tanks. Who’s there behind the gunner, behind the missile, behind the barrel, behind the bullet?

This morning I can’t stop thinking of Brisenia Flores, that little girl murdered in Arizona. Minutemen vigilantes broke into her family’s home. A woman and two men plagued by hate, stealing, shooting, killing because they could. In America people love their guns. The weight, the steel, the metal extracted from the earth. The lever of power. The trigger. The trigger happy. He shot her in the face. The little girl who pleaded, "please don’t…"
And although Subcomandante Marcos was not physically present at our poetry reading in October, he was there in spirit. I leave you with these words that I am sure will resonate with all of you out there, who like us, are grappling with the current horrific violence in the world. Violence that, although complex and full of intricate layers, transcends geographical borders and nationalities, asking all of us to take a stand, break silence, and fight for a more just and peaceful world.
I have a dead brother. Is there someone here who doesn’t have a dead brother? I have a dead brother. He was killed by a bullet to his head...Way before dawn the bullet that was shot. Way before dawn the death that kissed the forehead of my brother. My brother used to laugh a lot but now he doesn't laugh any more. I couldn't keep my brother in my pocket, but I kept the bullet that killed him. On another day before dawn I asked the bullet where it came from. It said: From the rifle of a soldier of the government of a powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another in the whole world. The bullet that killed my brother has no nationality. The fight that must be fought to keep our brothers with us, rather than the bullets that have killed them, has no nationality either. For this purpose we Zapatistas have many big pockets in our uniforms. Not for keeping bullets. For keeping brothers.




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24. Call for Submissions: Switchback

Submissions link.

Switchback is now accepting submissions for our upcoming issue, current from now until January 31. Send us your best previously unpublished fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. We're looking for daring work, literature that electrifies with language strong enough to sweep us away. There's no submission fee, so what are you waiting for? Send us your work now! 

Please send us only one piece of fiction at a time and only previously unpublished works. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us immediately of acceptance elsewhere. Make sure your name DOES NOT appear on the submission itself. (Word Limit 7500) 

Please send us only one piece of nonfiction at a time and only previously unpublished works. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us immediately of acceptance elsewhere. Make sure your name DOES NOT appear on the submission itself. (Word Limit 7500) 

Please send us no more than three poems per submission period. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us immediately of acceptance elsewhere. Make sure your name DOES NOT appear on the submission itself. 

Switchback is a publication of the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program of the University of San Francisco. 

For more information visit our website.

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25. Call for Poets: Woman Made Gallery Literary Series

Call for Poetry: Woman Made Gallery Literary Series
Theme: DOCUMENTATION: For The Record
Date: Sunday, February 1, 2015, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Place: 685 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL

We are seeking work that addresses all aspects of the theme:

A document provides evidence, or serves as an official record that something happened or simply exists. We are looking for Poems as Documentation or Documentary. Poems in the form of documents: How-to manuals, FAQs. transcripts of imagined interviews, policy documents, inventories, legal or constitutional documents, etc. Poems about the transciber or documentarist are also of interest. Let’s see what you can come up with.

Please send 4 – 6 poems on the theme ALONG WITH a 50 to 75 word bio, IN THE BODY OF AN E-MAIL to: 

galleryATwomanmadeDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

by December 22, 12:01 a.m.. We will make every effort to inform those chosen of our decision by January 20. Although we can't afford to pay readers, this is a great opportunity to sell books and read with other talented people in a very special environment.

Selections will be made with an eye to assembling a program that represents a diversity of poets, styles, and approaches to the theme.

Selected poets MUST be available to read in person. 

Read more about poetry events at Woman Made Gallery here.

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