Tag Archives: poetry

Noise In My Mind [Culturelicious Review]

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

We all have a noise in our mind at some point.  That thing we are thinking about, contemplating, frustrated over.  It buzzes in your ear and on your brain.  Rudyard Fearon’s Noise in my Mind is a collection of the thoughts that have the Jamaican poet up at night writing after a lot of thinking.  In his minimalist style the talented scribe says a lot with very few words.

Working at a library by day Fearon puts pen to pad at night.  He stays at work after his shift ends to read, write, re-write, and better himself at his chosen craft.  And you can see it in his short poems made up of five or so lines that leave you thinking for five hours.

In The Better Way, Fearon explores a reality that many hope never to witness: suicide on the subway.  You always hear rumors about daily jumpers; the codes spoken over the loud speaker get people thinking that every “emergency” at another station means death; and a couple of times a year the cover of the newspaper has a story about someone deciding their end, or worse, the end of another.

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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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Interview With Cree/Metis Poet Marilyn Dumont

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

Marilyn Dumont’s first collection, A Really Good Brown Girl, won the 1997 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award presented by the League of Canadian Poets. This collection is now in its twelfth printing, selections from it are widely anthologized in secondary and post-secondary literary texts, and it is a course text in twenty-three post-secondary institutions in Canada and the U.S.

Her second collection, green girl dreams Mountains, won the 2001 Stephan G. Stephansson Award from the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Her third collection, that tongued belonging, was awarded the 2007 McNally Robinson Aboriginal Poetry Book of the Year and the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year.

Marilyn has been the Writer-in-Residence at the Edmonton Public Library, the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto-Massey College, Windsor University, and Grant MacEwan College. She has also been faculty at the Banff Centre in Literary Arts and since 2009, she has taught in the Aboriginal Emerging Writers Program at the Banff Centre.  In 2009 Marilyn published her first novella, entitled Stray Dog Moccasins.

She is on-leave from Athabasca University while fulfilling the role of Writer in Residence at Brandon University and working on her fourth poetry manuscript in which she explores Métis history, politics and identity through the life and times of her ancestor, Gabriel Dumont. Marilyn serves as a board member on the Public Lending Rights Commission of Canada.

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Culturelicious: Interview with Queer Latina Poet Janet Romero-Leiva

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

Janet Romero-Leiva is a queer feminist Latina visual artist and writer whose explores immigrant displacement, denied aboriginality, queer and of colour existence, living and loving in dos lenguas, and the continuous intersection of identities that shape who she is and how she moves in this world. Janet immigrated to canada at the age of 7 and has since been trying to find her footing between america of the north and america of the south. she loves smoothies, cartwheeling and can often be found reading children’s books at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore.

BCP: Why did you start writing poetry?

JR: It was by accident, I didn’t really know that is what I was doing…but I started writing because I felt a need to express and somehow release things  I was trying to make sense out of – like my queerness, my feminism, my latinidad, my indigeneity, my experience of being an immigrant child.

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Culturelicious: An Interview With Mohawk Poet Janet Marie Rogers

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

Janet Marie Rogers is a spoken-word poet from Six Nations Territory in Ontario, Canada who started writing in 1996.

Her literary passions are Native heritage, feminism, historical territories, human love, sexuality and spirit.

Rogers hosts Victoria, BC’s only Native radio program, called Native Waves every Tuesday at 2:30 pm on CFUV 101.9 FM.

BCP: Why spoken-word poetry?

JMR: This is easy to answer. I was first exposed to poetry readings at a local pub. And there was plenty of “bad” poetry being shared. People droning on and reading a type of therapeutic poetry which is like masturbating in words. So I vowed then and there that I would NEVER bore my audience. Plus I believe in my words and wanted people to pay attention to my messages, so I began “teaching myself” the spoken word genre and its been growing from there ever since.

BCP: What is your process?

JMR: I wait for the good stuff. Some writers are disciplined and are able to write everyday. Myself, I know when a poem wants to be born. It is a strong energy in my stomach, then the words begin to sound in my head and I’m off to the races as they say. And during the execution of the poem, I keep telling myself to stay true, be honest, go deep, make it interesting and creative. I tell other writers and artists, there is no great crime than to be boring and unoriginal … I live by that code.

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Review: Broken Arrow: Native Men’s Writing, Art and Culture

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

There’s a new zine out that’s kick ass: “Broken Arrow”.  Its fifty-two pages are comprised of poems, plays, short stories, photos, and artwork; all of which bring the reader to the many different lives of its twenty-eight contributors.

For the last year, Toronto writer Emily Pohl-Weary has given a weekly workshop to the men at the Sagatay Native Mens Residence in Toronto’s west-end with the final result being “Broken Arrow”.

In her introduction to “Broken Arrow” Weary writes, “Working with the writers at Sagatay for the past year has been the highlight of my life.  Each Thursday, my mind came alive with new ideas and stories.  I could be having the most difficult, busy week, but after spending a morning with them, suddenly life felt manageable again.  I only needed to take time to slow down and appreciate the power of sharing our stories.”

Everyone has a story but not everyone is willing to share his or her story.  The men at Sagatay don’t hold back.  Honesty, bravery, and humility are displayed throughout the pages of “Broken Arrow”.  Whether writing of street life, different forms of abuse, loves lost, and the ever present colonization of Turtle Island now known as Canada, these men shoot arrows at their targets with perfect aim.

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Open Mic Night: Enter At Your Own Risk

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

I always wonder why the hell white people go to open mic nights at Busboys and Poets.

Busboys and Poets is “a restaurant, bookstore, and gathering place for people who believe that social justice and peace are attainable goals.” Their website neglects to mention that they are one of the hottest intellectual chill spots in the U Street corridor, with comfy couches, free wi-fi, and a bookstore full of provocative titles. Combine that with sexy and eclectic people, good music, and a decent food and drink menu, and you have my home away from home.

Every time I take a seat in the Langston Room (the venue for events), I find myself scanning the crowd to check out the racial mix.

Neo-bohemians of varying shades of brown flow in, dreds bouncing, blue jeans and hoodies melding with city couture and drab business casual. Snatches of spanish float through the air, but are largely drowned out in the cacophony of voices talking about politics, social movements, classic novels and new media. I take my seat, order a mug of fruit-flavored tea, and sip quietly waiting for the show tonight.

Now, sometimes everything goes fine. The night is a mix of revolutionary poetry, tearful odes to lost love, humorous erotic pleas, and classic poetry interwoven into the frenetic pace of the evening. Poetry nights can be mixed affairs, featuring soulful poems and poignant reflections about society in general. But on other nights, well…

Let’s take my last visit to Busboys as an example. I sat, clicking away on my laptop between sets, waiting for the next poet to start. Then I hear:

“THE WHITE MAN THINKS HE’S GOD!”

The poet, one of my favorites, takes a decidedly antagonistic tone that evening.

After railing against war-mongering, the destruction of the environment, and the systemic eradication of native peoples, he closes the poem, last lines dripping with contempt:

“THE WHITE MAN THINKS HE’S GOD!

Spelled backwards is DOG!”

He abruptly departs the stage, leaving the mic reeling in the stand.

The white people in the audience shift uncomfortably in their seats. Quietly, after the sets finish, they begin to slip out of the wooden doors. By 10:30, the venue consists solely of people of color.

In the arena of political poetry, white people would be wise to tread lightly. While every evening does not feature verbal missiles lobbed at white privilege and a racist society, it can quickly become that evening’s theme. And that common theme, the bonding over shared outrage at a racist and oppressive society, can unite some poetry lovers and alienate others. Continue reading