In Memoriam: Poet Akilah Oliver (1961-2011) [Culturelicious]

Grief is a complicated emotion but also an inadequate word in many ways. Maybe it isn’t so much that the term fails to encompass a range of emotional states, but I think also death itself, as an event, as a limit, as a field of investigation, is too many things at once.It’s solid and it’s slippery. For me what I’m doing in A Toast is using language to walk through that field to find out about love, the collapsible body, what it means to be human, all of that. Also, I think that I am trying to transcribe rapture. I mean that in the ecstatic sense of the word. The opening poem, “In Aporia, ” is taken from Jacques Derrida’s exploration of the limits of a border, language’s inability to capture the tension of this impasse, death. The poems in the first section of the book are written directly from that impossible field where nothing seems grounded. I am in a state of seeking. Grief is a part of that seeking, but so is redemption and anger, the forgivable and the unforgivable, this ecstasy of being in a kind of light, the simple astonishment of the impermanence of absence.

– From an interview with BOMBLOG

Tell me about the lightness my mother told me to pick out the best
how it signals everything I ever wish to believe true just holy on my ship.
I jump all over his house. this is it [what i thought is thought only,
nothing more deceptive than]
I his body keeps thinking someone will come along, touch me,
As like human. Or lima bean.

I’m cradling you to my breast, you are looking out. A little wooden lion
you & Peter carve on Bluff Street is quieting across your cheekbone. Not
at all like the kind of terror found in sleep, on trembling grounds.

It is yesterday now. I have not had a chance to dance in this century.
Tonight I shall kill someone,
a condition to remember Sunday mornings.

– Excerpt from “In Aporia,” included in A Toast In The House Of Friends


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links for 2011-02-24

  • "Much of the chatter on the lefty blogs and immigrant rights networks in the weeks of the trial has been dominated by bitter confusion about the lack of media coverage the case got. As Gabe wrote last week, the tragic deaths of two 9-year-old Arizona girls received very different public responses. It may be that the country is not interested in the scary lessons that Brisenia Flores’ murder offers about the real life consequences of the national discourse surrounding immigrants."
  • "America is not a poor country. The public has just been hypnotized into believing that the richest and most creative nation on Earth has only two choices in this crisis: massive austerity (as championed by the Tea Party/Republicans) or SEMI-massive austerity (as meekly offered by too many DC Democrats). It is ridiculous.

    "Fortunately, the people in Wisconsin know that. So they are fighting courageously. Their efforts could blossom into a compelling, national force for the good — offering a powerful alternative to those false choices."

  • "What does it take to be President of the United States of America? What are the necessary skills, education, experience, world view, demeanor and presence/charisma that make one a viable President? What is the right mix of everything?

    "This thought has been on my mind ever since the election of Barak Obama as our 44th President. I must admit that I was skeptical about seeing an AA male or female holding this office in my lifetime in spite of the advances (we as a country) have made. All is not perfect in Oz, but I move forward."

  • "I'm hesitant to trot out my dating history here, because this is a broader issue that everyone should care about. You should be offended by Davies' cavalier, exoticizing attitude, no matter your race or whom you've slept with. But the heart of my discomfort with the book, the reason I've been pulling it out and showing it to friends and exclaiming, 'Can you believe this?'is that, as a white woman who has dated and slept with people of various races, I don't in any way want to be thought of as being like Davies."

An Interview With Lillian Allen

By Guest Contributor Jorge Antonio Vallejos, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

Dub poet Lillian Allen continues to define the form and explore its leading innovative edge. She has performed her work in many major venues in North America taking poetry to larger and larger audiences. She has produced Juno award winning recordings, critical acclaimed publications, and she has performed her work for television, film, radio, and print media across the world. Lillian is also a professor of creative writing at the Ontario College of Art and Design, inspiring students to claim space for their dreams in the world and to use their creativity to make revolution.

BCP: Why poetry?

LA: You ask why poetry? To that I would say, why not poetry? Poetry is the deprogramming faculty we have as humans that they would like us to believe is, or should be the purview of only a few. With poetry we can create our own textures and our own picture of life, we can create community, name the nameless and put out a point of view, a way of seeing that says we are unique and we can think for ourselves. Poetry is the answer to the roll call those in control have forgotten to do. Poetry is the “present” to this imaginary roll call.

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Quoted: Nawal El Saadawi on the U.S. Role in Egypt’s Revolution

TR: What role would you like the U.S. to play?

NS: I don’t expect the power or support or interference of anyone, of any government. We here in Egypt are fed up with U.S. colonialism. Obama is a pragmatic person and thinking of the interests of his country; I understand this. But now he is confused: One minute he supports Mubarak, one minute he doesn’t; one moment he is afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, the next he is not. Now I believe in the people of Egypt only, I depend on the people of Egypt only.

~~Excerpted from interview with Rebecca Walker at The Root. Read the rest here.

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links for 2011-02-23

    "'Well several people I know who had never mentioned the issue of childhood sexual abuse before said, ‘But Shantrelle, this happens to black boys, too!’ And I had to say, ‘I’m curating this exhibit, and it’s about black girls. If other people want to curate another exhibit about black boys, they can do that.' The fact is: I will never demonize black men, under any circumstances. I grew up in a family full of incredible black fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins, and I know the types of issues and oppression [black men] deal with, like being harassed by the police and being [sexually] abused themselves. But we still have to hold black men who abuse black girls accountable for that abuse.'"
  • "The student who filed the complaint, Arlene Johnson, said in her own e-mail to the AP that she's happy that Wattier is retiring, adding that it shows that his actions toward her were 'disrespectful.'"
  • "In response to soaring food prices that are hurting the poor in India, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister KV Thomas has proposed curbing lavish weddings to reduce food wastage. According to Reuters, Thomas wants to introduce a bill limiting the amount of food served to guests, because he claims 15% of India's food grains are wasted at such events. 'We believe we can preserve food grains for the poor and needy of this country by restricting its use at such extravagant and luxurious social functions,' said Thomas."
  • "Chinatown has long had a dense infrastructure to help new immigrants find their footing. Without leaving East Broadway, a fisherman fresh from a Chinese village could get a job washing dishes in Arlington, Va.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; or Flushing, Queens. He could also find a bus to take him there, and an apartment to share with six other men from his hometown. And while waiting for all that to be arranged, he could visit a doctor, consult a lawyer, take in a bootleg movie and slurp a lunch of noodle soup."
  • "Even as more customers turn to online banking, said Kathleen Engel, a law professor at Suffolk University in Boston, the presence of brick-and-mortar branches encourages 'a culture of savings,' beginning with passbook accounts for children and visits to the local bank. 'If we lose branch banking in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, banks stop being central to the culture in those communities,' said Ms. Engel, author of a new book, 'The Subprime Virus: Reckless Credit, Regulatory Failure and Next Steps.'”
  • I understand the slant in this post–the man runs a pre-paid card company–but it's interesting to see Black women with children and no post high-school education characterized like this when they're usually negatively stereotyped.–AJP "What jumps out is how the group that is most over-represented for using alternative online banking comprises African American mothers with no college and incomes below $30k. People adopting online financial services are ahead of the curve. And people adopting newer, alternative services are true early adopters. In the high-tech world where I've spent my career, ahead-of-the-curve early adopters rarely fit this profile.

    "This group represents what Visa characterizes as strivers. People may be under-banked, but they're motivated to find newer, better ways to manage their finances. It's too soon to say who the oncoming five percent of under-banked people will be, but they can look to strivers for inspiration."

America’s Food Sweatshops and the Workers of Color Who Feed Us

By Guest Contributor Yvonne Yen Liu, cross-posted from Colorlines

Juan Baten came to this country from Guatemala seven years ago in search of a better life. A bus in Cabral, Guatemala, hit his father so Baten left home at the age of 15, to make the journey north. He made his way to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he found work in a tortilla factory in an industrial corridor along the Brooklyn-Queens border. He worked six days a week, nine hours a day, from five in the evening until two in the morning, operating the machines that churned out tortillas. The $7.25 per hour he earned was sent back to his family in Guatemala, supporting his four brothers.

Baten also found love. Seven months ago, his common law wife Rosario Ramirez gave birth to daughter, Daisy Stefanie. They dreamed of a day when they could move their family back to Guatemala.

However, one Sunday, Baten’s arm got stuck in the blades of a dough-mixing machine and he was crushed to death. The 22-year-old dad’s story splashed across the pages of the New York tabloids, and his death led to investigations by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state Department of Labor. The Workers Compensation Board discovered that the factory owner was not offering worker’s compensation to his employees and issued a stop-work order. The factory is now closed, pending payment of insurance and fines by the owner, according to news reports.

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Voices: Remembering Dwayne McDuffie


Compiled by Arturo R. García

There is a hardcore piece of the audience whose back goes up whenever you go into these issues, and they don’t even realize it. What kills me about it is, when they’re writing about it, they’re always hyper-rational: “Look, the fact is there are more white characters, and if you pick randomly, you would end up with all-white teams, and the fact that there are three black people on this team is statistically ridiculous. It’s obviously a quota.” And the quota arguments on fictional teams crack me up. I’m sorry, is somebody losing a job here? Which fictional character is losing a job? They’re not talking about what’s going on in the comic books – they’re talking about what they think is going on in their lives, and that’s not really going on, either.

– Dwayne McDuffie, in the video above (starts at 1:57)

The word “loss” encapsulates a lot of concepts, large and small. You lost that receipt with an idea on it — an irritation. You lost a job — financially crippling. You lost your mind at that club — not so shabby.

It is difficult to describe what it’s like to lose a person to the gaping chasm of death when you didn’t know them all that well. That’s some of my challenge with the passing of Dwayne McDuffie.

Hannibal Tabu,

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