Collaboration and Congratulations

Recently, I had the honor of collaborating on a poem with a friend, Yahia Lababidi, on a poem titled “Holy Mess”…and that poem has now been published at The Friday Influence. You can read it, along with opening insights from José Angel Araguz and our comments on the writing of it, here at The Friday Influence.

While here today, I also want to share another poem from Yahia with you, “Speaking American” (featured on PBS NewsHour), a poem I return to again and again. If you haven’t read this one before, please do scroll down to the end of the post and read (or listen) to it.

I also want to take the opportunity here to congratulate José Angel Araguz on the publication of his most recent collection of poems, An Empty Pot’s Darkness. This is a powerful collection of eight-line poems…thank you, José, for giving me an advance peek at the manuscript before release.

Living is collaboration, learning, reconsidering, revising…

Stay blessed!

 

BOOK OF THE MISSING by Heidi Grunebaum…Praxis Magazine Online digital poetry chapbook

On August 30, Praxis Magazine Online published the first digital chapbook in the 2019/2020 Poetry Chapbook Series, edited by JK Anowe. If you haven’t seen it already, you don’t want to miss BOOK OF THE MISSING by Heidi Grunebaum.

And here, at the beginning of this series, I am reminiscing a little, and want to share a bit of the history. In 2015, Praxis Magazine‘s publisher Tee Jay Dan (Daniel John Tukura) asked me if I’d be open to coming on as an editor…and I was worried about the time commitment, worried about the amount of emotional and mental investment it takes to be on the team of an online literary and arts journal. I was already (and still am) on staff at Right Hand Pointing, where editor Dale Wisely gave me an opportunity to learn how to BE an editor…with integrity, discretion, and compassion. And I’d already learned that it takes a LOT of hard work, and that many of the people who submit to journals don’t realize how much work goes into it, how much of their own time editorial team members at online journals have to dedicate to bring other people’s works to publication. (I know I certainly didn’t have any concept of the time commitment involved while I was still submitting poems to journals, but not volunteering at a journal myself.) So I’d declined Tee Jay’s invitation initially, not feeling sure I was prepared to dedicate that kind of time.

Then JK Anowe, a friend of mine, shared a draft poetry chapbook manuscript with me, and he wanted to submit it to Praxis, and had done me the honor of asking me if I’d write a Foreword for it. I did that, and since I also knew Tee Jay didn’t have anyone on staff at the time to do formatting, I worked with JK on getting it formatted so that it would be presentation-ready, should Praxis decide to accept it. We received permission from Robert Rhodes to use a painting of his as the cover image. (Robert Rhodes is an amazing artist…and he’s provided images for a number of digital chapbooks at Praxis since, as well as the cover art for two of my own poetry books, Anchorhold and 19 Ghazal Street.) Praxis accepted the manuscript and published it in March of 2016: The Ikemefuna Tributaries, by JK Anowe.

After it was published, Tee Jay asked me…told me I needed to…come on staff at Praxis and curate a digital chapbook series. And I’d had so much fun with Anowe, I agreed. And, because Tee Jay gave me all manner of creative and editorial freedom and discretion, we also started the Around This Fire response chapbook series. The next manuscript we published was Romeo Oriogun’s Burnt Men…both Romeo’s brave self and his brave poems have gone on to receive international attention, recognition, and acclaim. And I remain deeply humbled to have had the opportunity to work with him on making his first chapbook of poetry available to an international community of readers.

Time under the bridge…three and a half years later, and now JK Anowe is Editor – Poetry Chapbooks, and I’m serving as Managing Editor, working with a whole team of amazing volunteers…from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe…and contributors and readers from all around the world.  (Part of why JK Anowe is an editor IS because I begged him to consider it…same way Tee Jay begged me…asking and wheedling shamelessly. I trust Anowe’s eye for poetry, and for how a manuscript collection forms a cohesive, coherent whole. And frankly, I did resort to this one day: You and your Ikemefuna Tributaries got me into this. So you need to come in too, because I need you.  And when he was finished laughing at me, he also joined the team.)

Some days, when I’m tired, I wonder if maybe I should reach out to Tee Jay and let him know I just can’t…can’t keep making the time commitment, can’t keep going through the heartbreak of having to send 1000 decline emails for every 20 acceptances…and then JK sends a manuscript for a poetry chapbook he’s selected and edited to be published at Praxis… and I read the poems…THE POEMS… and am re-energized and excited to be a part of it in any way all over again. Heidi Grunebaum’s chapbook brought the tide of enthusiasm back in again for me… so if you haven’t already, do read it.

Stay blessed!
Laura (Halima)

Meditatio Divina – poetry film by Paul Broderick

In 2014, I wrote a poem inspired by Kate Fadick’s poem “Lectio Divina”… a tribute to poet Hashim Shaabani (executed 1/27/2014).

Filmmaker Paul Broderick has turned it into an incredible film, which you can see here on Vimeo. (TRIGGER WARNING: the film is disturbing, for mature audiences only. One wishes the same type of warning could be given regarding actual life events.)

 

“Poetry has the power to bridge divisions” – a conversation with David Ishaya Osu

Spring of this year, I had the honour and pleasure of having a conversation-interview with the amazing David Ishaya Osu. He asked me all sorts of intriguing questions, and I learned some things about my self in the process. For those of you interested in reading, the conversation has been published at Gainsayer: Poetry has the power to bridge divisions – David Ishaya Osu.

Thank you for reading…stay blessed!

LOVE NOTES

LOVE NOTES

Reflecting on the Vote at the Special Session
of the United Methodist General Conference
====================================

I took a walk with God last night
(because if you can, why not?)
and some ways down the road He

said “Hold up,” and stopped
at the front steps of a church
and said “I need to leave

a note, would you kindly reach
Me that box of stationery?”
And sure enough, there it was,

box of “36 Assorted Greetings,
with verses from the scripture”
and I passed it over, saying

“With Bible verses yet!” and
He murmured something sounding
like (shameless self promotion)

but murmured it so lowly I
wasn’t absolutely sure where
He’d put the hyphen. He took

a card and envelope, began to
write the note, and He knelt
low enough to let me read over

His shoulder. “Dear LGBTQI
Friends and Fam: I am so deeply
sorry that this happened. I am

so deeply sorry that you’ve
been unwelcomed. And I get it.
I really do, because the vote

was just as much about Me as
about you, all of us have been
advised of what our limits

ought to be, told who we are
and aren’t supposed to love.
But keep faith, I’m also out

here, right here with you. Be
strong. Stay loving. Steady on.”
When He put it in the envelope

and put it on the handle of
the door, I was able to see
the message on the cover:

Wish You Were Here.

And then He looked at me
and said “Perhaps We ought
to leave another?” And I

nodded, reached in the box
and picked one, put my name
below the greeting, and then

so did He, and this second
one He slid beneath the door
into the sanctuary entry:

Get Well Soon.

-Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba), 03-March-2019

16-January-2019: ‘Collateral Damage’ anthology from Glass Lyre Press

This week’s mail brought a contributor’s copy of Collateral Damage, a Pirene’s Fountain anthology from Glass Lyre Press. The contributors’ list here is outstanding, and I’m a little shy seeing my own name on the back of the book alongside the names of poets whose work I consider not just ground-breaking, but world-changing. This is a benefit anthology, and a powerfully good read, so do consider putting your hands on a copy if you are able to do so.

Stay blessed!
Laura (Halima)

Sharing the Journey, 13-November-2018

It’s been awhile, but I’m finally back here at the ark of identity to share a recent poem:

 

ASYLUM SEEKERS

I would tell you a story
about a brother and sister,
children of a poor man,
good man, wood-cutter
who went walking
through forest (and desert,
and mountains, and rivers)
without any breadcrumbs
to leave in a trail
behind them.

I would tell you a story
about a brother and sister
who walked through forest
toward a gingerbread
house, the walls and roof
constructed of sweet
spicy biscuits, icing
affixing tempting candy
ornaments along the eaves
and picket fence.

I would tell you a story
about a brother and sister
who walked and walked
and walked, trying to find
their way to a safe
place, whose hearts lifted
in hope when their
(mind’s) eye spied
the sweet house, when
they thought they could
finally stop fearing.

But you know the story
of Hansel and Gretel
already, and you know
what they found when
they reached it.

-Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski), 08-November-2018…for our human kindred who have been walking across half a continent with hope that the people ahead will be kinder than the ones they’ve fled.

Sharing the Journey, 07-July-2018

Today I’ve returned to a poem from friend and colleague Saddiq Dzukogi, one that was published at Glass: A Journal of Poetry in May 2017: “What The Poem Said”

 
A Poem to the Poem
 

inspired by, and with lines from,
Saddiq Dzukogi’s “What The Poem Said”

 
when the poem shows up again
perhaps (by then) I’ll have the courage
to ask it a question

courage is the heart
perhaps (by then) I’ll have the heart
to ask it a question

fre courage is free will
perhaps (when the poem shows up again)
I’ll have the will to ask it a question

poem! my nemesis… poem!
my playmate… poem! my shadow dance
behind the curtain

poem! you said:
If I stay long enough on a spot,
my feet will become roots

poem, this morning
I stood beside a young magnolia tree
one that’s yet too young to blossom

one I planted some few years ago
from a slip of twig no larger
than my smallest finger

one that has grown
twice as tall as me
poem! dearest poem, pay attention

while I ask this: how may I too
become so patient? how may I make
time to take the time

to put down roots at least as deep
as I’ve grown tall? how may I
make time to take

the time to sip the cups
of last year’s wine, the winter
rains that came and have been

cellared in the darkness
waiting for someone to put down roots
deep enough to drink them?

poem! dearest poem, tell me:
how may I sit here in the evening
beneath this tree and listen

to the smallest of musicians,
the voices / the crickets make at night,
the poem, a prayer / same as a song?

–07-July-2018, Halima Ayuba (Laura M Kaminski)

 

lyrical alignment: Richard Rodriguez

Perfect! Thank you for this light today, José Angel Araguz!

The Friday Influence

This week’s lyrical alignment is drawn from an interview with writer Richard Rodriguez conducted by Hector A. Torres for the book Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers (University of New Mexico Press).

louiskahnI came across the passage below from a journal entry during my third year doing the PhD. I remember being struck by Rodriguez’s apt and rich metaphor in response to being asked about style. Not only is the narrative he develops through anecdote compelling, but the way he pivots its meaning towards his own writing process at the end really hits home with me. It’s the kind of statement that acknowledges the form and method side of writing but also allows for the fluidity and surprise that lie at the heart of the best writing.

In setting the prose into verse, I settled on working with five words per line; while the poem ends unevenly outside this…

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