Thoughts from Poets for International Women’s Day

What would happen if one woman told the truth about
. . . . her life?
. . . The world would split open

 – Muriel Rukeyser, from Käthe Kollwitz, part 3

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Tell all the truth but tell it slant (1263)

by Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —

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ON THIS DAY: March 8, 2019

March 8th is

International Women’s Day *

Girls Write Now Day *

National Peanut Cluster Day

National Proofreading Day *

Women’s Collaboration Brew Day *

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MORE! Louise Beavers, Beatrice Shilling and Lilia Ann Abron, click

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Word Cloud: SYNTHESIS (Redux – Women’s History Month)

by Nona Blyth Cloud

The United States is a nation of borrowers. What we borrow is stuff from other cultures: words, food, music, clothing – whatever catches our eyes and ears. Then we put our own spin on it, or combine something from one culture with something else from another part of the world – American fusion. It’s one of our great strengths as a country, although there have always been groups that seek to post ‘Keep Out’ signs to protect the ‘purity’ of America – whatever their fantasy of the ‘Good Old Days’ might be.

If one of these groups were ever to succeed in building a 7,600-mile barrier around – and above and below – the shared-border states of America, and then they could pull up all the drawbridges (sacrificing Alaska, Guantanamo, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and a number of other  islands), the country would undoubtedly wither into a new Dark Ages.

Some of the best work in contemporary American poetry is coming from emigrants, refugees and their children, who synthesize the cultures they straddle, and re-define what ‘American’ means. We are far too interconnected with the rest of the world for isolationism to work, so let’s embrace and celebrate the many gifts of these Americans.

One of my favorites is Naomi Shihab Nye (1952 — ), born in St.Louis, Missouri. Daughter of a father who came to America as a Palestinian refugee, and a born-in-America mother. “I grew up in St. Louis in a tiny house full of large music – Mahalia Jackson and Marian Anderson singing majestically on the stereo, my German-American mother fingering ‘The Lost Chord’ on the piano as golden light sank through trees, my Palestinian father trilling in Arabic in the shower each dawn.”

During her teens, Shihab Nye lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her BA in English and world religions from Trinity University.

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Her poetry vibrates with life – when she reads it, her enthusiasm is irresistible.



ONE BOY TOLD ME

Music lives inside my legs.
It’s coming out when I talk.

I’m going to send my valentines
to people you don’t even know.lopsided-heart

Oatmeal cookies make my throat gallop.

Grown-ups keep their feet on the ground
when they swing. I hate that.

Look at those 2 o’s with a smash in the middle—
that spells good-bye.

Don’t ever say “purpose” again,
let’s throw the word out.

Don’t talk big to me.
I’m carrying my box of faces.
If I want to change faces I will.

Yesterday faded
but tomorrow’s in boldface.

When I grow up my old names
will live in the house
where we live now.
I’ll come and visit them.

Only one of my eyes is tired.
The other eye and my body aren’t.

Is it true all metal was liquid first?
Does that mean if we bought our car earlier
they could have served it
in a cup?

There’s a stopper in my arm
that’s not going to let me grow any bigger.
I’ll be like this always, small.

And I will be deep water too.
Wait. Just wait. How deep is the river?

Would it cover the tallest man with his hands in the air?

Your head is a souvenir.

When you were in New York I could see you
in real life walking in my mind.

I’ll invite a bee to live in your shoe.
What if you found your shoe
full of honey?

What if the clock said 6:92
instead of 6:30? Would you be scared?

My tongue is the car wash
for the spoon.

Can noodles swim?

My toes are dictionaries.
Do you need any words?

From now on I’ll only drink white milk
on January 26.

What does minus mean?
I never want to minus you.

Just think — no one has ever seen
inside this peanut before!

It is hard being a person.

I do and don’t love you—
isn’t that happiness?

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ON THIS DAY: March 7, 2019

March 7th is

Be Heard Day *

National Cereal Day *

Crown of Roast Pork Day

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A Poem for the New and Ancient Math

“It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul.”  
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . – Sonya Kovalevsky

Naomi Shihab Nye is an American, an Arab, a Poet, a parent, a woman of Texas, a woman of ideas. Her poems speak of ordinary things―things we take
for granted until it’s almost too late.” 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ―Bill Moyers

Naomi Shihab Nye’s father was a Palestinian refuge. She was born in St.Louis, Missouri.  “I grew up in St. Louis in a tiny house full of large music – Mahalia Jackson and Marian Anderson singing majestically on the stereo, my German-American mother fingering ‘The Lost Chord’ on the piano as golden light sank through trees, my Palestinian father trilling in Arabic in the shower each dawn.” During her teens, she lived in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, and the Old City in Jerusalem.

The Math of the Middle East is incredibly difficult to understand. There are too many maimed and dead to count on all sides, the problems shift and change even as we read them, and no one’s answers are always right or always wrong. Naomi Shihab Nye writes this poem from the point of view of a Palestinian schoolboy living in the Gaza strip, on an ordinary day which suddenly explodes.

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To read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Before I was a Gazan” click here:

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ON THIS DAY: March 6, 2019

March 6th is

Oreo Cookie Day *

Frozen Food Day *

National Dentist’s Day

White Chocolate Cheesecake Day

European Day of the Righteous

Sonya Kovalevsky High School Mathematics Day *
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A Poem for Absinthe Day

Absinthe gained quite an unsavory reputation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its high alcohol content (90 proof or higher) combined with its popularity among adherents of bohemianism, especially artists and writers in Paris, led to its condemnation by social conservatives and prohibitionists.

When a doctor reported that concentrations of thujone, a chemical compound present in absinthe only in trace amounts, caused seizures in lab rats, many countries in Europe banned absinthe. The United States banned it in 1912, and didn’t lift the ban until 2007.  More recent studies have proved that absinthe is not more hazardous than any other high-alcohol-content spirit, and the trace amounts of thujone it contains will not cause hallucinations or seizures in humans.

Marie Corelli (1855 – 1924), was an English novelist, poet and Christian mystic. Some of her books outsold Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling. Her first novel, A Romance of Two Worlds, was a fantasy with elements of science fiction, including an evolution vs. creationism debate and galactic travel. Today’s featured poem “I am the green fairy” is from her novel published in 1890, Wormwood: A Drama of Paris. While it was produced in the traditional Victorian three-volume format, it is considered an early proto-modernist work. Much of the book is about the effects of absinthe on the denizens of fin-de-siècle Paris. The poem represents the view of absinthe at the end of the 19th century as a dangerous hallucinogenic drug, ‘the green fairy’ leading those who imbibe its sweet green poison to their destruction.

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To read Marie Corelli’s poem, “I am the green fairy”, please click

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