tv [untitled] August 17, 2012 6:30am-7:00am PDT
of creative writing. and the ardela literary composition prize in creative nonfiction. her work has been published in several an tholologies including our cheers to muses. in addition to writing and performing she published and hand bound artist books and is a photographer and print maker. lives and creates in oakland. i would like to introduce ahmwa. [applause] flesh of my flesh. the woman who invented clothes was a woman. she knew the power of a well placed leash.
knew there was no looking back. once man laid himself upon her he was cleave into her. need the clay of her. she knew then shield always need a sheath. a shield from shame. the early pain of having been divided. >> first sin. forgive me for coveting my mother's breast until it bled iodine to deceive me. 165. you cried when i left for california. you and bastand figure the driveway. i didn't expect that from you. wasn't prepare for the weeping that would last until i cross the the state border.
when i got to oakland my emotions leaked like a wildfire. they are the kind that destroy you, your security your shell. it almost killed me the home sickness the longing and anger that flawed itself into a stone in my throat. 165 days until i see you again. how many days in a semester. how long before i can go home? sometimes you need to burn everything to begin a new and here there are no science the deaths are not as severe the pure ifkification not complete. to let the natural of the sun have it's way with me. to feel the tips of grass force through the ashes of earth the complicated earth that seechls soft at the surface and yet so deep. that is how i feel the hidden
layers of hardness, liquid and flame. can anything survive at the core. must i always hold people at a distance never let them settle inside me. mother there is not enough room for me in your womb. that's why i left. to seek a home a place where i could grow. 165 miles i crieds, 165 times i missed you today. 165 meals that did not satisfy. 165 was not the number of my dorm room. 165 dollars for a 1 way ticket. 651 the area code home. >> this is a record. phone rings, a set in mother tone asks, what are you eating,
how are you getting around? warns me to lock all the locks on the door. my voice plays over and over half truths with fragmented vietnamese. i don't tell her that the locks have already been locked the click, click change of chain to groove. i don't tell her about my fear. i don't tell her i can't lock out the sirens, smut and paranoia of taxi cabs. the tortured baby crying scents of yeast from the bagel shop. extremes of heat and fall and unexpected rain. i don't tell her that hearing the weariness of her voice i can feel her flannel nightgown wet with my tierce much the smell of ponds cold cream makes me sad.
how i long to wrap my arms around her warm bell e. instead i say, i'm fine. eating, taking subway. i don't tell her that today i wept over a bowel of ph o. >> 100 degrees cellsius. there is no going back you and i. like broth clouded by the blood. so this next poem is actually in the tears to me antholology. a vietnamese woman artist, composure you name it she does it. i wonder if she bakes i never asked her but. this is a buddhist heart.
each time i burned my body for you my heart remanipulained in . i watched the saffron flames engulf me seer my skin, flesh of a plum stripped of it's peel. tender and glowing like mars, i would rise to the sky for you to see me. in those moments i was your torch and we were united. united by the scents the heat the shutter. for love of another i'd say to myself, faithful in muted pain. my hope, my heart extinguishing as you stood there paralyzed each time like a still camera unable to look away.
infraction. if my love were smooth and lustrous would you spit me open and fill me up again. would you kiss the scar you made of me name it and claim me like a mountain. bear witness to holiness where 2 rocks collide. if my was unpenetrable and clear would you search your whole life destroying me just to hold me to the light? i am listening you like rain that slips through fingers missing you like childhood dreams and mother's mill ik. like an earing under a bed. links of moon that pass. with years reflected in glass. the silver seams behind eyes.
if you happen to find my love hidden in the openal of your memory, would you return my uncertainty? my last poem, i'd like to dedicate to all the people who have ever lost someone that they love. and as nancy said you get to a certain age and people start passing away. and it's kind of bizarre when you lose a parent and realize you are a member of some strange society where no one understands how you feel. i want to say this is something that i'd like to share. inheritance. you were stubborn until the end. i felt your spirit tremor in my hand, your fears gach.
the hospital room was filled with ice witnesses that denied me the last thing imented from you to lay curled with you alone once more. to be a girl again and feel the balloon of your belly rise and fall. pat your cheeks soft as apcots. hear your breathing soothe me to sleep. that day i wrapped my arms around the shirt necessary your closet still hanging i felt them fill my grieve felt them hallow in your absence much the waling never ends inside and sometimes i think i have lost you like a hat. misplaced you in the messiness of my surroundings. you see, your stubbornness was woven into me woven into the clothes we both wore.
this locale is the historic center of baghdad book selling, a winding street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls. named after the famous 10th century classic poet, al-mutanabbi, this is an old and established street for book selling and has been for hundreds of years. mutanabbi street also holds cafes, stationary shops, and even tea and tobacco shops. it has been the heart and soul of the baghdad literary and intellectual community. this tragedy is part of a wider and continuing tragedy, but one that we want to isolate and address, not only for the loss of lives but also for the implications underlying the destruction of a street where books were sold. book selling on mutanabbi street is no different from book selling here.
we traffic in memory, ideas and dreams. in that sense, we feel that mutanabbi street starts at the front door of all of our book shops. mutanabbi street starts here. our first reader will be sinan anton. >> when i was torn by war, i took a brush immersed in death, and drew a window on war's wall. i opened it, searching for something, but all i saw was another war and a mother weaving a shroud for the dead man still in her womb. there was a photograph of an iraqi boy on the front page of
the "new york times". he sat on the edge of the truck, 8 or 9 years old, surrounded by his family, his father, mother , and 5 siblings were asleep. his head was buried in his hands. all the clouds of the world were waiting on the threshold of his eyes. the tall man wiped off the sweat and started digging the 7th grave. the next reader is going to be diane dupris. thank you. >> i'm going to read a few things that i wrote sitting in a hotel room in, oh, whatever year that was, 01, i guess, when we started bombing afghanistan. these are short poems on the
afghan war. 1, small bones of mountain children in the snow. two, bags of rice burst open, burlap flaps in the wind. even the label, usa, is fading. three, we air drop transistor radios. can you eat them? will they keep you warm? this one is called les american, october 5, 2001. we are feral, rare as mountain wolves. our hearts are pure and stupid. we go down, pitted against our own. there's one other short thing. we gathered there frequently,
old scholars, printers, book collectors, old and young writers pass through the place on any given afternoon. all kinds of activity came to the shop in the years i worked there. they were the early years of the black awareness, robert williams was active in south carolina. there was a period of time when the cot in the back of the store was a drop off for various disassembled armaments. sometimes someone we didn't know would put something under the mattress, making the cot unusable for several days. someone would come by and take the hardware away in a shopping bag and that would be it for a week or so. there was often a black photographer who would come to the shop with an empty shopping bag.
when he left, he with leave in a zigzag and eventually get on a bus going south. >> i wanted to read a poem that was sent by the poet that i invited to the recent san francisco international poetry festival from iraq i've been in touch with for more than a year and a half. after the united states would not give him his visa, i asked him -- i told him about mutanabbi street and he wrote a poem and he wrote it in english, though he writes in, of course, in arabic. but this one he wrote in english. so i'll read it. one figure in the poem you should know, humbaba, which is an ogre, a monster of
immemorial age. that was a special big garden, a forest, where all types of trees and flowers grew. the trees bending down gently flinging branches. our orchard grew like a crown on the sun's eyebrow. where did humbaba come from? his mother was just a cave, his father unknown. who made him a friend pretending guardian of the orchard. did those nice shrubs need fear to go begging for a garden and have humbaba in his treachery ilk. those plants and flowers were like books everyone could read, not cut and throw away. their different fantastic colors had formed our blood so our veins ran smoothly, our 7
wonders showed. then humbaba made a whirlwind of fire and snow. who crowned him king? who showed him our garden was but a jail? humbaba was great and scary, but not so very strong, though no one could ever conquer him as no one would ever try. time and again, when things grew old, humbaba alone believed himself eternal and young, still powerful, able to defeat all. humbaba didn't want to know one fact: that accumulation will lead to eruptive change. but, sadly, when suddenly he realized it after all, he chose to check its power on all, the tall. he crushed all the shrubs and plants leaving them creeping and broken all over. he damaged the flowers and
colors, the flowers withered, their leaves all burned and soon they were throwing their seeds every which way and when the whole orchard changed into a dry, gray waste, humbaba, his mind like stone, shouted his horrible cry of fire and burned all that gray and yellow, birds of all kinds were flying away with ashes in their beaks which humbaba couldn't oversee any more or ever set on fire. then, grandfather ended his day and continued closing his big thick yellow book, turning to his grandsons and daughters and anding them a big red bud, then bidding them good night and laying his head on his yawning book, he glances solemnly at the full moon in the core of the sky, his eyelids blinking once, searcng for that big,
silvery rose. the next reader is dima shahabi >> i'd like to move on with an iraqi poet, one of the most prominent and brilliant poets of her time recently passed away in cairo, in june, actually. she was not only a poet, she was luminous and free-thinking pioneer in establishing the theory of what has come to be known as free verse in arabic poetry. in addition to her extensive laments on oppression of women and melancholy. she left. no cheek turned pale, no lip trembled. the door did not hear the story of her death.
no window curtain overflowed with sorrow and gloom to follow the tomb until it disappeared. the moon lamenting its depression. the night surrendered itself without worry to the morning. the lights brought the voice of the milk girls, the fasting and the moaning of a starved cat of which nothing remained except bone. the fussing of salesmen, the struggle of life, kids threw stones at one another in the middle of the road while dirty water flooded the avenue and the wind toyed with gates and roof tops, alone in a state of semi oblivion. . >> on the day al-matarazzo
street was bombed, did you notice how quickly it folded in itself? or the broken tea cups and coffee-stained saucers, the gray matter, and just before the street was eviscerated by those, just before that moment, did you hear the patter, the proclamation, the prayer as they wrangled and swore, denied and affirmed, did you hear the words as they fell? for a thousand years we have, two thousand years, more coffee? what do you think?
but this book says -- map, border, industry, collusion, resistance, truth, spirit, faith, doctrine, domain, love, free, portal, wind, cut. did you hear the euphony of the street like a rain forest of song birds pefrpblged among the crinkle and fluttering leaves of newspapers as they addressed if not solved, defined if not created the problems and the promise of tomorrow? did you hear the explosion, the screech, the howl, the scream? did you even know of the dreams imploded inside the molten iron, splayed blood and torn guts across the narrow book-lined street as debate turned to barb's screeches, philosophy into choked smoke and a thousand years of history was buried in the rubble.
or was there nothing except an inxoerable deadly silence. and the next reader is rick london. >> i'm going to read a few poems by the palestinian poet mahmud darish. i have the wisdom of one condemned to die. i possess nothing, so nothing can possess me and have written my will in my own blood. oh, inhabitant of my song, trust in water. and i sleep pierced and crowned by my tomorrow. i dream the earth's heart is
greater than its mouth, more clear than its mirrors, and i was lost in a white cloud that carried me up high as if i were a hupo and the wind itself my wings. at dawn, the call of the night guard woke me from my dream, from my language. you will live another death, so revise your last will. the hour of execution is postponed again. i asked, until when? he said, wait till you have died some more. i said, i possess nothing, so nothing can possess me, and have written my will in my own blood. oh, inhabitant of my song,
trust in water. this last poem has an epigraph, the cypress is the shadow of the tree and not the tree itself, and has no shadow because it is the tree's shadow. the cypress is in pieces like a shattered minaret. it's asleep in the road in its own aesthetic shadows, green and dark, just like it is. no one has been harmed. cars pass by, speeding over its branches, rising dust settling on their windows. the cypress is in pieces, but the dove that chose it doesn't move its exposed nest to a nearby accommodation. overhead, two migrating birds circle the sufficiency of its nesting place and trade gestures.
a woman says to her neighbor, i wonder, did you see a storm come by? no, nor a bulldozer, and yet the cypress is in pieces. and someone passing the debris says, maybe it got bored from neglect or worn out by time, for it's as long as a giraffe and as meaningly as a dust broom and it provides no shade for lovers. a small boy says, i used to draw it without air. its lines were easy to follow. and a girl says the sky today is lacking because the cypress is in pieces. and a young man says, no, the sky today is complete because the cypress is in pieces. and i say to myself, it's not obscure or clear. the cypress is in pieces.
there is only this. the cypress is in pieces. . >> a poem i wrote shortly after 9-11. the terrorists for rachel cory and all those who were idealists and who actually believed that they could make an effect and social change. the terrorists who lives amongst us is not you, the terrorist who lurks in the shadows of our crowded city streets isn't me. he's not a demon with bulging eyes, a twisted mouth full of dirt, a crooked mouth, fangs driping blood. it's not the savage guner in