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Speak to Me! Poetry Readings[00:00:05] Welcome to The Seattle Public Library’s podcasts of author readings and library events.Library podcasts are brought to you by The Seattle Public Library and Foundation. To learn moreabout our programs and podcasts, visit our web site at w w w dot SPL dot org. To learn how you canhelp the library foundation support The Seattle Public Library go to foundation dot SPL dot org[00:00:35] Let's give it up for the writers you're going to hear.[00:00:41] Number one after I read is going to be Kemarre.[00:00:46] Number two is going to be Carolyn. Number three is going to be number four. Jack Khivaand last Tara Hardy and I will give you all a nudge if you if you forgot that order.[00:01:00] I really wasn't planning on reading and then all my friends gave me mean looks.[00:01:05] So I guess that means I should read two poems.[00:01:11] Yes it's a yes and I'm going to read No.[00:01:17] No. There are people using eight dollar words to talk about race and race relations and youthink that's great.[00:01:28] And all that you can hold in your mouth today is this No.[00:01:37] And you know it isn't frosting on a gluten free cupcake or Ph.D. esque but it's all you canmuster with the vulnerability of the self spread around like hummus and a whole food Cracker nowomen are wearing pricey clothing and expensive jewelry and they are slaying it with the power intheir education. And the folks are saying yes yes you are totally speaking our language. We are goingto be your ally. It's great. You're awesome and all you can push out of your barren lips is no.[00:02:17] And this will not put you in the New York Times best publications or land you a grants orLanzhou an award or land you anything on the bestseller list and you get circulated as a great personbut not the most educated black woman on the scene.[00:02:33] But that's ok.www.spl.org/podcasts l 206-386-4636

[00:02:35] Your lineage is a worker bees haven for desecrated wombs and deaf ventricles that swarmall you can revolution up is no now no no no you are right.[00:03:08] Ok so checking in on Yeah I read one piece substitution by Bohlabela about doo doo doodoo doo doo that addenda dead in that bop bop ah and your name shall be called jazz how will wesubstitute you today we hear you in the elevator. It's not you just a cover of you boo boo boo bop bopbop[00:03:40] Bop bop bop me. Miles Davis mom. Nina Simone mommy boo boo boo.[00:03:47] We will only play a cover not the real you boo boo boo.[00:03:51] You will drink your coffee but what about you. It's the real you. What about you.[00:03:59] We don't know. Where's my latte rubab boo mommy. Nina Simone. Miles Davis[00:04:08] And your name shall be called jazz sold to the highest bidder smooth proprietary pimpsmake you holler Kinni make you holler crawl for your name in curly fonts stick you between corporateHappy Hour and read rhyme and riff. Roots show just enough to present you as exotically acceptable.A hint of kink and a James remake at last from a single lady vegetarian speaking bird suburbanbaby's name Coltrane Rouba boo mommy host Miles Davis BB2 boo hoo Billie Holiday boo boo boo.Where did the band get that and your name shall be called jazz. Just a substitution not the cover notthe cover.[00:04:52] We want the real the real the real jazz Davis and Nina Simone sold sold to the highestbidder sold sold to the highest bidder.[00:05:03] Public radio tries to resurrect who you are is was there is a cost sold sold sold to thehighest bidder bebop only when there is barbequed chicken watermelon or poverty.[00:05:15] Mommy plus miles davis Buddu.[00:05:20] Billie Holiday is a holiday for that substitution.[00:05:23] We want your names to be called jazz though real jazz.[00:05:29] We don't want you to be in the black ground against broad daylight but doo doo doo doodoo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo Calloway Horace Silver Sarah Van Dexter Gordon DinahWashington W.C. Handy Maxine Sullivan Lee Morgan Nancy Wilson Louis Armstrong Nina SimoneKing Oliver Hazel Scott Carmen McRae Eubie Blake. But boo boo boo boo boo. ALICE. ALICE. AliceColtrane. Charlie Mingus. Mary Lou Williams dizzy to collapse the Adam Jones The Loneliest Monk.2

[00:06:05] Mommy The Loneliest Monk.[00:06:10] Kid Ori Lena Horne. Art Blakey. Bessie Smith. John Coltrane. Melba Liston. SidneyBouchard's. Alberta Hunter. Coleman Hawkins. Duke Ellington. Sun Ra. Shirley Horn. Max Roach.[00:06:27] But doo doo doo doo.[00:06:29] Nat King Cole. Esther Phillips. Betty Carter.[00:06:33] But doo doo doo doo doo.[00:06:37] Real jazz. No cover.[00:06:39] No substitutions and your name shall be called jazz.[00:06:51] All right I'm going to welcome my first poet and then the night will go along on its own.[00:06:56] Please get up for Kemarre bright Hello lo.[00:07:07] I definitely thought Anastasio will be reading at the end. So we have to go right after.[00:07:14] My name is Kemarre right.[00:07:15] I'm going to be reading a mixture of poems for you all some from my book and some froma new project in the first piece is retold fables on a day overwhelmed with sunlight in a kingdom likenever seen before. She looked from atop her throne and doubted herself face stolid and unmovedheart retched. She looked at every face that shone towards her every mouth that blessed her stepsevery hope that deemed her queen and she doubted herself. Was pulled between the possibilities.Either she would be the pride and protection of her own reflexions standing before her or she wasvain and selfish in denial about her connectedness to the Rays out yonder. So she sat there confinedin that throne unsure of what she'd done was right.[00:08:17] And she opened her mouth to speak with the people hanging on her lips. But made nosound of reassurance. Instead taking that moment to the throne her doubted self as the kingdomwatched in collective agony. On the day the queen plummeted two hundred feet down from Glory'stower. This piece is called notebook. She wrote the perfect poem once not perfect because of itsmeter or form but perfect in its account. It took that Tennessee spring day with her face to the sky andback on a slab sitting next to a committed. Lee Brown boy who was either a guard or a thug. Thedifference being comfortably minuscule turned that one day into all the days she had captured thewind in her script. Halane still listened to the secrets of old whispered in a breeze that experiencedthose experiences and made them a poem perfect scribbled in the notebook of a guide or author.[00:09:32] She decoded the secrets of the wind and never saw its perfection again.3

[00:09:45] And I am working on a new project that looks at the connection between Christian mythsand their influence on present day patriarchy.[00:09:55] And so that's a little bit of context for these. So the next forum is called How to Make abelief. Number one lacquer your ideas ten fold until they neither bend nor flex. Use the thick bile fromyour liver to provide them structure. Keep them from becoming something else. Number 2 let dry.Number 3 wrap your ideas in shrapnel discarded from wars with other ideas. Shrapnel and opposingincisors. Number 4 varnish your ideas with your plasma graft them patches of your skin. So in tufts ofyour hair now your ideas are beliefs. Now they are personal and attack against them is an attackagainst you. Number five allow your beliefs to set numbers 6 once they have set. Wrap yourself inyour beliefs. They are your second skin. They will not pry from you easily. Number 7. Drill a holethrough all the layers back down to the core idea but only pin sized it is not there to remind or wecenter. It is only there to relieve pressure.[00:11:21] In the beginning in the beginning there was her the abyss the abyss looked in upon her selfand saw all the possibilities and things to come.[00:11:32] She saw God read order forming in her midst and the creations that were soon to follow.And as is the case with most chaos a secret order. Read god came from her endlessness and Godsprang forth from the abyss and created limitations.[00:11:52] Those were a he and he despised her with all of the triviality of a self dimensional creation.But she cared not of his anger from her. He had come and through her he would be lost and Godcreated a she in the likeness of her. With a piece of endlessness in her belly God called it thefirmament. So he began to hate she for the source that would always be within her.[00:12:21] But he needed she to remember being endless. Because to feel but not recall his ownvastness was an ache unhindered by consciousness a torture freshly born soon his feelings ofdespise independence mixed in an upset stomach until he vomited them and created land.[00:12:46] In this way since the genesis of time the relationship between Earth and Sky has alwaysbeen complicated ceremony take wound and pan sear flesh side down. That is seal off any bleedingparts let wound rest retain juices for bone deep cuts.[00:13:20] Garlic and turmeric Peck back to where you used to be whole allow yourself time to absorband transform submerged in water and boil until you no longer bleed. Until you are not so easilysliced your blood is caked and you are done.[00:13:46] You are ready OK.[00:13:55] Two more another beginning. We landed in the middle of a plot. Walked around under theweight of our own importance. That's how we came to be here. That's what kept us grounded from4

being called up to the sky like Rapture things and we didn't speak about the possibility that we maynot have been what we said we were important because we knew that something that is no thingfloats and we liked our dead underground and dirt beneath our souls.[00:14:38] So when we we count the story we make our selves the heavy start in the beginning andthe last piece that I want to share is something I wrote for an exhibit that I have coming up in thesummer that looks at marginalized communities relationship with the United States. And it it changesit from person to institution to person a person. So we personified Americans said What would yourrelationship look like if the mayor who was a person. And so that was the inspiration for this poem.And this is called impasse. You've got this loving man and you don't know what to do.[00:15:20] His love goes deep like the crimson of your ruptured capillaries burst. You tell him youcan't breathe that far below sea but he keeps on because his love is pure like your white bonegasping for air through waves of flesh and agony. Break. You try to tell him not to summon buoysfrom your limbs but his love is thick like the patches of Deep Blue Velvet sprawled across yourcarcass.[00:16:03] Batture you aim to say that your body can't hold a galaxy of starless skies. But by then hehas loved you.[00:16:13] Red white and blue. What to do what to do what to do with this love.[00:16:25] Thank you stop clapping here.[00:16:41] Like oh all these wonderful tall people. And you know when you've been riding for a whileand they start talking about poetry of stature and I say yeah I'm always the shortest. So that takescare of that well. Thank you so much for inviting me for speak to me. Thank you all for coming. I'mgoing to read a couple of things. I'll start with my new book this dream world. I was very I always triedto reply to the context. And so the reading turns into kind of a conversation. So I never quite decidewhat I'm going to read. I have an idea but i always change it. This poem from the new section of thisstream the world New and Selected is called woman at the well. And you may recognize that imagebecause the woman at the well it's the well of Jacob which was in Sumeria I believe and it is a wellthat is sacred to all three of the religions of the book. Right. Judaism Christianity and Islam. And after9/11 which was you know a terrible trauma for this country and really the whole world. I found myselftrying to think of an image that would speak to all three communities and this is the poem that cameout. It's in it's in memory of the poet Agha Shahid Ali who was the poet who brought the ghazal formin its true form to America to English to the English language because it's a form from Arabic Persianword do et cetera.[00:18:26] So you'll hear repetition at the ends of the first two lines and at the end of each succeedingcouplet woman at the well in this late season who is the woman at the well drawing water reflectingon the woman at the well millennial fishers in the whale room weed choked cracks were brackishwater rises for the woman at the well at the bottom of the well shaft the sky's reflective eye opens5

closes on the woman at the well where are the reins of bygone era as predator it whether yields morerusted buckets full for the woman at the well ancestral well of Jacob where weary traveler rests whereJesus asks for water from the woman at the well old plain trees of Sumeria where in whose shade astranger speaks of artesian faultlines to the woman at the well Khaldi in fountains oases of datepalms and minarets how they flourish in the dreams of the woman at the well mirages of marblepomegranate flowers cedars of Baalbek shimmer in the sight of the woman at the well.[00:20:00] On the night of Destiny The Angel Gabriele descends and hovers by the footprints of thewoman at the well.[00:20:10] Jacob's Ladder leans against the door of heaven on the bottom rung the woman at the wellwomen of sea car women of Sheringham draw aside your veils reveal the features of the woman atthe well wise ones.[00:20:33] Why do you weep. Do you fear your fate. Tips a mirror toward the woman at the well oartisan of sorrow mysteries precision. Sit down beside your sister.[00:20:51] Second Self the woman at the well I went.[00:21:03] One thing I forgot to mention about that poem is in the ghazal the final couplet the poet issupposed to name him or herself or refer to him or herself.[00:21:13] Now what do you want to do when you to