poet laureat

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FIRSTS WOMEN WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD

Issa Rae (First black woman to create and star in a premium cable series)

Oprah Winfrey (First woman to own and produce her own talk show)

Serena Williams (First tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles in the open era)

Shonda Rhimes (First woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each)

Ava DuVernay (First black woman to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar)

Gabby Douglas (First American gymnast to win solo and team all-around gold at one Olympics)

Dr. Mae Jemison (First woman of color in space)

Mo’ne Davis (First girl to pitch a shutout and win a game in a Little League World Series)

Patricia Bath (First person to perform laserphaco cataract surgery and the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent)

Aretha Franklin (First woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Ursula Burns (First black woman to run a Fortune 500 company)

Rita Dove (First black U.S. poet laureate)

Loretta Lynch (First black woman to become U.S. Attorney General)

#TheyAreTheFirst #BlackExcellence

Image: Tracy K. Smith visits the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (Shawn Miller/Library of Congress)

Tracy K. Smith knows many readers are intimidated by line breaks. She knows people don’t like identifying consonance, assonance or alliteration.

But Smith — the newly announced 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States — wants to help America push past that anxiety.

“What do you hear? What do you feel? What does this remind you of?” she asks NPR. “These are all real and valid reactions to a poem.”

The poet laureate is appointed by the librarian of Congress and fills the role for a year. Smith takes the mantle from Juan Felipe Herrera, who has served two terms.

Tracy K. Smith, New U.S. Poet Laureate, Calls Poems Her ‘Anchor’

There’s no such thing as the Dark Ages, but OK

As a very serious adult, with a respectable career and life, and a healthy ability to let petty shit slide, I spent much too much time last week arguing with strangers on the internet who believe in the myth of the Dark Ages.

The arguments in question focused on a massively inaccurate meme, which some observers of the group pointed out was originally supposed to be about knowledge loss after the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but which some very cool EDGE LORD had changed to be about ‘The Christian Dark Ages’. Please feast your eyes on it in all it’s massive wrongness:

This is, pretty obviously, a bunch of honkey bullshit and also massively incorrect, as many important scholars have noted. As a result, I spent hours of my life – which I will never get back -  pointing out repeatedly that the ‘graph’ in question has nothing to do with reality, and arguing with non-experts about the medieval period.

For the most part – these people were well-meaning. Many pointed out that this was a very Euro-centric world view, and that Asia, Africa, and the Arab world were all making huge advancements in scientific and medical theory at this time. That is absolutely true. White people have never been the entire world. The Chinese had a massively advanced scientific culture by this time, for example, and had been holding it down with hermetically sealed research laboratories since the third century BCE. The Arab world, meanwhile was compiling treatises on eye surgery. Scientific advancement was something that was happening in this period. Europe is not the centre of the world.

Having said that, while it is important to acknowledge that the-rest-of-the-world was making huge strides in scientific advancement during this time, and that Europe and white people are not the entire world, nor responsible for all of human advancement, there was no such thing as the Dark Ages in Europe either.

While everything about the idea of the Dark Ages is incorrect, lets start off with the way the term was meant to be used. The totally ignorant graph above, unsurprisingly, is completely fucking off. Hilariously, the idea of the ‘Dark Ages’ actually originated in the medieval period itself. Petrarch – the poet laureate of fourteenth-century Rome - was actually the originator of the idea that there was a period of stagnation that Europe was moving out of. Petrarch had a political axe to grind. He considered that any point at which Rome – where he lived and worked and had considerable sway – did not completely dominate the world was a BAD TIME. This is not an unbiased assessment of world history.

The actual phrase ‘Dark Ages’ itself derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, which Caesar Baronius – a cardinal and Church historian - came up with around 1602. He applied the term exclusively to the tenth and eleventh centuries.  However, and very significantly in his use of the term, Baronius was not decrying a state of scientific malaise, or a particularly turbulent political period – he’s talking about a lack of sources surviving from that time.  Indeed, Baronius sees the cut off point for the dark ages to be the Gregorian reforms of 1046, following which we see a massive increase in surviving documentation. Witness an actual useful chart:

When we move into a period where there are more texts to be considered, Baronius argues, Europe moved out of the period of darkness and into a ‘new age’.*

Now this is some real talk. As you can tell from that graph, during the Carolingian Renaissance of the ninth century, we see a flurry of Latin writers emerge, and a lot of text copying. This drops off again until what we term the Twelfth-Century Renaissance – home to this blog’s favourite philosopher/proto-Kanye –  Abelard. (Shout out to my boy.) However, when people use the term ‘Dark Ages’ now, they usually use it to talk about the entire millennium of the Medieval period, and they aren’t talking about source survival.  They aren’t thinking ‘dark’ as in ‘occluded’, they are thinking ‘dark’ as in pejorative.

We can thank the Enlightenment historiography for the expansion of the idea that the medieval period was a bad dark time. Kant and Voltaire in particular liked to see themselves as a part of an ‘Age of Reason’ as opposed to what they saw as the ‘Age of Faith’ of the medieval period. To their way of thinking, any time that the Church was in power was a time of regressive thinking. The Middle Ages, then, was a dark time because it was so dominated by religion. 

The first push back against the term dark ages began with the Romantics. After the, um, unpleasantness of the Reign of Terror, and the major cultural and environmental upheavals of the Industrial Revolution it became fashionable to look at the medieval period as a time of spiritual focus, and environmental purity. Obviously this is a super-biased way of looking at the period – just like it was biased for Enlightenment thinkers to take one look at the primacy of the Church and declare an entire millennium to be bad. I mean, really what the Romantics were doing was just casting shade on the Enlightenment historiography because they felt like it inevitably led to the guillotine. But what can you do?

By the twentieth century historians had moved on from the idea pretty much completely. If you take the time to actually, you know, study the medieval period, it becomes very apparent very quickly that there was a tremendous amount of intensive thought happening. This is the era of Thomas Aquinas – a bad ass philosopher who will think you under the fucking table. Of Hildegard of Bingen – who basically founded scientific natural history in the German speaking lands. Hell, like we talked about last week Rogerius and Giles of Corbeil were throwing it down for major medical advancement. There was a lot going on. On the real, without the contributions of medieval thinkers you would not get Galileo, Newton, or the Scientific Revolution. The medieval period was not a period of stagnation, it was a time of progress.

But it’s not just that the idea of a ‘Dark Ages’ makes no sense when you look at what incredible advancement was happening at the time, it also makes no sense because it implies that stuff was going really well under the Romans. We estimate that somewhere between thirty to forty percent of the population of Italian Rome were slaves. The Romans had total bans on human dissection, meaning that there was no real way for medicine to progress any further than it had by the time of collapse – a problem that medieval people didn’t have. I mean even if you just want to make it about religion - the Roman Empire was Christian at the time of its collapse and had its heads of state worshipped as LITERAL GODS during the pagan era. Somehow every edgy motherfucker with a fedora is totally cool with this and thinks it is super reasonable though. Because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The Romans were not a bunch of really awesome people living a life of idealised rationality any more than medieval people were all ignorant savages living in fear of God.

Is there a time that historians use the term ‘Dark Ages’? Yeah, we do use it to talk about source survival rates. It’s not a term we use as a value judgment, however. We just mean that we don’t have a lot of evidence to go off of. By the same token – if we somehow move on to another electronic format without converting the way things are stored now, we could be moving into a theoretical Digital Dark Age, where historians in the future won’t be able to study what we are writing now. (And that would be a tragedy, because legit, I would kill to be a historian working on Donald Trump’s tweets in the year 2717.)

We’re now moving away from using the term Dark Ages at all, however, because of the frequency with which it is misinterpreted. I mean, if every basic motherfucker out there who never bothered to read God’s Philosophers (hat tip to James Hamman – this book is amazing) will insist on willfully misinterpreting us, we just ain’t gonna give them the ammo.

What it comes down to is that the medieval period was as vibrant as any other period of history. If you’re going to player hate, go ahead, but please don’t act like you know anything about either medieval or ancient history when you do. There is no period of rational supermen followed by ignorant monsters. There are just people doing their best in the circumstances.

* Caesar Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici Vol. X. (Rome, 1602), p. 647. “Novum incohatur saeculum quod, sua asperitate ac boni sterilitate ferreum, malique exudantis deformitate plumbeum, atque inopia scriptorum, appellari consuevit obscurum.”

washingtonpost.com
Tracy K. Smith named new U.S. poet laureate
The Pulitzer Prize winner hopes to rekindle “the pleasure of poetry” for all readers.
By https://www.facebook.com/roncharles

“Tracy K. Smith grew up in a house lined with books, an eclectic library that included dime-store mysteries, 19th-century novels, science fiction paperbacks, Shakespeare’s sonnets and Reader’s Digest Abridged Classics. It seemed vast to her as a child, but soon she’ll have full run of the world’s largest library: On Wednesday, Smith was named the new poet laureate of the United States.

Smith, 45, is the author of three widely praised collections, “The Body’s Question” (2003), “Duende” (2007) and “Life on Mars,” which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. She is the first poet laureate appointed by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, who succeeded James H. Billington last fall. The poet laureate position, which comes with an office in the library, a travel budget and a modest stipend, has few official duties and no political entanglements — no required sonnets on the occasion of Donald Trump’s birthday, etc. Smith, who plans to continue living in New Jersey, will be free to define her role however she’d like.

“It’s what every artist is hoping for: time and space and support for the freedom to create,” Smith said. “I get to immerse myself in the conversation that poetry generates.”

Read the full piece here

Congratulations Tracy K. Smith!

The Body’s Question: PoemsDuende: PoemsLife on Mars: Poems 

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Can poetry change the world? United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera thinks so. But he tells NPR that the change poems can effect in people is often subtle, by nudging along shifts in perception or understanding.

Juan Felipe Herrera On Poetry In Tough Times

So, if you put Lance down in front of a camera and tell him to talk about anything he wants, he’ll babble about Allura for 3 minutes straight. Relatable.

Honestly, though, I really enjoyed the vlog. Of course Lance wouldn’t talk about his insecurities, and I don’t know why you all expected him to. They manifest in his unconscious mind; he’s only aware of them a little bit, and he doesn’t like to think about them because they make him upset. He wants to talk about things that are easy to talk about, that he likes talking about, so he talks about Allura.

I really am sad that he’s not gonna end up with her, just because he likes her SO much. But it’s extremely obvious that he won’t, even when you don’t factor in what Lauren and Joaquim said. By how much they’ve emphasized that he thinks she likes him back, whether it’s all for show or not, it would be a LITTLE creepy to have her reciprocate, and it wouldn’t allow Lance to mature as a character. I still love and ship All/urance, but yeah, definitely, 100% not gonna happen.

Also, hi, yes, Lance isn’t a word person. That’s been established. I’ve talked before about how much I hate when people bend over backwards to make him secretly a genius in bad circumstances, because guess what? Some people aren’t good at numbers! Some people aren’t good with words! Just because Lance isn’t a math/science person or a poet laureate doesn’t mean he’s not smart in other ways.

We’ve known since season 1 that he likes Allura and fools himself into thinking she likes him back. We’ve know since season 1 that he only starts talking about what’s bothering him when SOMETHING IS ACTIVELY BOTHERING HIM. We’ve known since season 1 that he’s not good at math, that he mixes up his words sometimes. None of what was in the vlog was new information, but it still gave us valuable insight into his frame of mind and what he naturally likes to talk about. If you’re upset by his characterization, then I’m sorry, but you’ve been so wrapped up in his fanon persona that you’ve failed to take into consideration what his canon personality is, and that he’s capable of having negative traits.

Moving Day (Tom x Reader HC)

Originally posted by tomhollandisdaddy

Summary: Finally you and your longtime boyfriend Tom are moving in together and here’s every step of the process.

Author’s Note: Hey guys, here’s my second completed request (I know I’m getting request, I’m shook). And it was fun to do. I love the idea of moving in with Tom ughhhh I need this to happen in my life.

Requested: “How about you do a reader x tom moving in together? Like the whole process? How it was brought up, apartment shopping, furniture shopping, and the actual moving, etc. I think that would be pretty cute!”

Masterlist

Wordcount: 2029

Warnings: Fluff, sexual things, swearing (probably)

Taglist: @tbholland @stephie-senpai @cersei-lannister @i-love-superhero @chinalois @behxndthemask


The Question:

  • After dating Tom for 4 years, your lovely boyfriend decided now was appropriate to ask the move in question.
  • Both of you had sleepovers at each others place all the time but he wanted to make things official, now that you completed your desired degrees he wanted to make sure his girl was with him at all times.
  • You and Tom would be out for brunch one Sunday morning.
    • The restaurant sat you in a private corner so no one could fawn over Tom.
    • Your eyes would skim over the menu while Tom’s eyes stayed focused on you. 
      • “Something wrong babe?”
      • “What? No, why would you think that?”
      • “As much as I love your beautiful brown eyes, they haven’t glanced away from me for the past 10 minutes.”
      • “Just drinking in your beauty.”
      • “Thank you, poet laureate. Seriously tell me what’s up?”
    • Tom couldn’t help the nerves he was feeling but he finally decided to spill. 
      • “I want us to move in together…because I love you.”
    • For a moment you would sit there quietly in shock, which would make Tom think you were mad at the suggestion.
    • Suddenly, your arms would reach out around him across the table, pulling him into a hug.
    • The squeal that escaped your lips caused some attention but Tom didn’t really care.
    • He chuckled, pulling you into a kiss
      • “I’ll take that as a yes angel pie.”
  • For the rest of brunch, you couldn’t help but start rambling off ideas.
    • “Apartments are great or we could get a house! ooh what if we got a houseboat so we could travel. Speaking of boats we could move somewhere close to the water and have a boat, not that I know how to drive one but still it could be cool. Where are you thinking about staying? I know London’s home but I also know you love New York and then L.A. is good for business. How are we ever going to decide? I need to start searching for a job and oh my God there’s just so much to do.”
    • “Love, I just asked you two seconds ago.”
    • “Moving is a big deal, Tommy!”

The Hunt:

  • The two of you would decide on a place in NYC.
    • Tom said in interviews he prefers New York over Los Angeles
    • Since he normally filmed in North America New York was just an easy flight for him to take.
    • It was also an area of opportunity for you to build your career
  • You settled on wanting a townhome.
    • Apartment’s just seemed unsafe, you worried about random fans finding your complex and hounding you.
  • While you had a budget it was pretty flexible because Tom wanted you to be happy.
    • Those Sony paychecks were really coming through
  • Even though you knew you could have whatever place you desired you tried to keep things under budget, not wanting to feel like you’re taking advantage of him.
  • The first place you saw was…old and not in a cute vintage way.
  • The second place was unbearably small
    • While you loved Tom you didn’t want to be that close to him.
  • There was about a month of unsuccessful house hunting until you found the place. Your home.
    • Tom had to leave 2 weeks prior to filming in Montreal, leaving you to do the house hunting by yourself which was daunting, to say the least.
    • He trusted you and said you had final say on wherever your new home would be. 
    • You had lost hope in finding anywhere, so you weren’t exactly enthused to go on this trip with your perky realtor. 
    • “I think this is the one.”
    • “You’ve said that three times.”
    • “No, but this time I’ve found the perfect place. It screams you and Tom.”
    • The home’s location was in Greenwich Village.
    • You couldn’t help but smile at the charming brick exterior with green plant life on the windowsill and around the front entrance.
    • Like most townhomes in the city, it was built higher than wider.
    • 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, and a spare room that the current owners use as an office.
    • There was also a gorgeous balcony with a stunning outlook of the city skyline. 
    • “Do you love it or do you love it?” Your realtor asked. 
    • “It’s stunning, in a nice area. We can take Tessa for walks. Now, what’s the price?”
    • Your heart stopped hearing the price tag
    • It should be illegal to have so many zeros in anything being sold.
    • You started second guessing yourself thinking the price was just way too outrageous. 
    • “Maybe this isn’t the right place we can’t afford this.”
    • Your realtor took it into her own hands to make a quick call to Tom, begging him to talk some sense into you.
    • A few minutes later you received a Facetime call from your darling boyfriend.
      • “Aren’t you supposed to be working?”
      • “Hello to you too darling. Just checking to see how you’re feeling about the house.”
      • “It’s…alright.”
      • Tom quirked his fluffy eyebrow, seeing right through your lie. 
      • “A little birdy told me you love this place.”
      • Your realtor quickly dipped out of the room.
      • “It’s nice but expensive, we’ll find somewhere better.”
      • “Baby-y-y-y, don’t worry about the money.” 
      • “Tom, I don’t want to feel like I’m using you.”
      • “You’re not using me, just sign off on the place. Think about how happy we’ll be. She even said there’s room for Tess and we’re close to a cafe where we can have our infamous brunch sessions. If you don’t say yes, then I’ll go ahead and get it anyways.”
    • And with that, the two of you were now homeowners of a 4 story townhouse in Manhattan. 

The Decorating:

  • You and Tom were pretty hopeless on actually furnishing the house.
  • Both of you always had furniture that was picked out by your parents or came included with the apartments you stayed in.
  • Now you both had to start from scratch and it was terrifying.
  • Every weekend Tom flew down from Montreal, to go furniture shopping with you. 
  • “Do we like espresso wood?”
  • “Can we turn the espresso into a latte?”
  • “No my caffeinated King.”
  • Tom would insist on tons of mirrors around the house
    • “Sometimes I wonder how I can stand your vain ass.”
    • “Mmm, true but I like being able to watch myself when I make you scream.”
    • Suddenly, you would be on board with this mirror idea.
  • The general style you decided to go with was chic and home-like.
  • You both weren’t really into the sleek minimalist style, instead preferring a comforting touch.
  • The color scheme you chose were calming earth tones. 
    • Off-whites, muted reds, natural greens, soft blues and warm browns.

The Move:

  • Moving day felt like a chaotic dream.
  • You arrived at your empty home at 5 am, cleaning up the floors and preparing for all the moving trucks. 
  • Tom arrived with your crew of movers, aka Harrison and the twins.
    • They were late but honestly, you couldn’t expect much more from them.
      • “Hollywood made Harrison go grab him his latte so we were late,” Harry explained.
      • “Stop calling me that!”
  • They arrived with two vans packed with personal items such as clothes, dishware, electronics, etc.
  • You had staggered the furniture companies to arrive with your larger pieces throughout the day so there wouldn’t be a backup of trucks.
  • Tom and Harrison were assigned to unpacking clothes.
  • Harry and Sam began to unpack cooking/dining supplies since the kitchen didn’t have any new units coming in.
  • You were in charge of bossing everyone around and were doing a pretty good job.
  • Every once in a while Tom slipped away from his task at hand and snuck off to come to you. 
  • His large arms wrapped around your waist, pulling you into his chest as he pressed soft kisses on your shoulder blade.
    • “Tommy, please we need to stay on schedule. You and Harrison need to finish so then you can come help get the living room stuff in.”
    • “My darling, you’re so tense everything is going to work out. There’s no need to rush.”
    • “Tom, I want to sleep here tonight instead of living out of a suitcase in a hotel like I have been for the past two months.”
    • “Y/N, everything is going to be fine. We’re going to be all moved in tonight I promise. Now let me help you blow off some steam.”
    • “Not with the guys here.”
    • “C’mon.”
  • Well, you had to break in the new house sometime.
  • You and Tom snuck away to what would be your future dining room and closed the sliding door so none of the guys would be scarred for life.
  • Tom’s lips practically attacked you, feverishly kissing all over your face and neck.
  • The doorbell began ringing, but you both ignored it.
    • Harrison ended up grabbing the door to be met with movers.
      • “We’re here with the dining set for the Hollands.”
      • “Oh yeah, I’m Tom’s assistant I can show you where it needs to go.”
    • Poor Haz slides that door open and is exposed the movers to you and Tom.
    • With Tom’s hands all over you, you forgot that one of the furniture companies were coming in with your dining set.
    • You buried your head in your boyfriend’s chest in embarrassment.
    • The movers couldn’t look away, making Tom a bit pissed.
      • “Hey, need me to sign some shit. Stop looking at my girlfriend.”
      • And then he takes his sweatshirt and covers your body with it.
      • The movers cautiously came over and gave him the paperwork to sign off on.
      • “That’s enough looking, we’ll get out and you’ll bring our stuff in.”
      • With that, Tom picked you up and carried you out of the room.”
  • You were embarrassed beyond belief.
    • “I want to die-e-e-e.”
    • “Just take over closet duty love, Haz and I will handle the rest of the moving.”
  • So you switched off tasks while you let your embarrassment calm down. 
  • The rest of the day went pretty smoothly with all of your furniture arriving safely.
  • Everyone worked tirelessly attempting to dust, unpack and decorate the whole place.
  • Tom’s attention span ran out around 8 pm, tired from unpacking books and DVDs for the shelves you had in your living room/entertainment room.
  • He walked over and came to sit in your lap, as you unpacked pictures.
    • “Ow! Spiderman muscles hurt babe!”
    • “Oh stop being a baby, you sit in my lap all the time.”
    • You dramatically sprawled out on the floor pretending to be crushed by him.
    • He chuckled and laid on top of you, giving you soft kisses.
    • You gently push him off.
    • “We don’t need a repeat of earlier, back to your job Thomas.”
    • “But I’m hungry. I’m a grown man.”
    • “Fine, I’ll let you off your duties to go retrieve our dinner.”
    • He licked your cheek (knowing it drove you crazy) and got off of you.
    • “Just like a dog,” You say wiping off your slimy cheek.
    • “Nah, you just taste sweet.”
  • Tom returned 45 minutes later with two large bags full of food.
    • “I thought we were getting dinner not groceries.
    • “Um this is dinner, I need to feed my muscles.”
    • You scoff and take the bags, placing them on the table. 
    • He went to a Mediterranean place and returned with gyros, souvlaki, tabouli, and baklava.
  • You, Tom, Haz, and the twins ended up feasting in front of the TV, watching some UFC fight.
    • Tom’s arm was wrapped tightly around you, while his other focused on his food.
    • The guys yelled during the fights, and you just smiled lovingly up at Tom.
    • You could imagine doing this every weekend in your new shared home.
    • He noticed your eyes and looked down at you smiling before pulling you in for a kiss.
      • “This is our home angel.”

HALF-MEXICAN

Odd to be a half-Mexican, let me put it this way
I am Mexican + Mexican, then there’s the question of the half
To say Mexican without the half, well it means another thing
One could say only Mexican
Then think of pyramids – obsidian flaw, flame etchings, goddesses with
Flayed visages claw feet & skulls as belts – these are not Mexican
They are existences, that is to say
Slavery, sinew, hearts shredded sacrifices for the continuum
Quarks & galaxies, the cosmic milk that flows into trees
Then darkness
What is the other – yes
It is Mexican too, yet it is formless, it is speckled with particles
European pieces? To say colony or power is incorrect
Better to think of Kant in his tiny room
Shuffling in his black socks seeking out the notion of time
Or Einstein re-working the erroneous equation
Concerning the way light bends – all this has to do with
The half, the half-thing when you are a half-being

Time

Light

How they stalk you & how you beseech them
All this becomes your life-long project, that is
You are Mexican. One half Mexican the other half
Mexican, then the half against itself.

Juan Felipe Herrera

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Orchardleigh Estate,  Somerset, England

The rich history of Orchardleigh is one of the most unspoilt English Country Estates. The Poet Laureate Sir Henry Newbolt was inspired to write his finest works from his love of Orchardleigh.

It was built in 1855-1858 to the designs of T.H. Wyatt for William Duckworth. The house is not, by country house standards, large, but was clearly build as  a family home. There is a stable block, a boathouse and a kitchen garden with glasshouses some distance from the house. A woodland walk led from the house to the formal entrance into the kitchen garden. 

For the historian Orchardleigh is exciting because of the survival of the service wing virtually intact. It retains the kitchen, with ranges, dressers, and warming cupboards; a full board of service bells; and, most remarkably, the servants’ sleeping cabins, which resemble stable accommodation.  

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Natsuo Kirino | Out

Clarice Lispector | The Passion According to G.H.

Jacqueline Rose | Women in Dark Times

Hélène Cixous | The Laugh of the Medusa

June Jordan | Poem Because the 1996 U.S. Poet Laureate Told the San Francisco Chronicle There Are “Obvious” Poets—All of Them White—and Then There Are “Representative” Poets—None of Them White

Natalie Eilbert | Conversation with the Stone Wife

New York sludge/doom pioneers 13 are best remembered as being the band that launched Liz Buckingham’s career before she joined Electric Wizard, but this does a great disservice to their talented poet laureate of a front-woman, Alicia Morgan. A one-time girlfriend (and still close friend) of Eyehategod’s Mike Williams, Alicia was a bit of a trailblazer on this music scene back in the early ‘90s - not many women were fronting doom bands back then, little on women with androgynous/harsh vocal deliveries. Along with drummer Ellen Mieczkowski, 13 created a memorable sound and helped to pave the way for other women to enter the doom metal scene, which is now largely dominated by female musicians.

5

Poem Psalm by Wisława Szymborska, Polish Nobel Laurate, 1976

~ Earth/Terra: More important than homeland!!! 


“Oh, the leaky boundaries of man-made states!  How many clouds float past them with impunity; how much desert sand shifts from one land to another; how many mountain pebbles tumble onto foreign soil  in provocative hops!

Need I mention every single bird that flies in the face of frontiers or alights on the roadblock at the border?  A humble robin - still, its tail resides abroad  while its beak stays home. If that weren’t enough, it won’t stop bobbing!

Among innumerable insects, I’ll single out only the ant between the border guard’s left and right boots blithely ignoring the questions "Where from?” and “Where to?”

Oh, to register in detail, at a glance, the chaos prevailing on every continent! Isn’t that a privet on the far bank smuggling its hundred-thousandth leaf across the river? And who but the octopus, with impudent long arms,  would disrupt the sacred bounds of territorial waters?

And how can we talk of order overall? when the very placement of the stars leaves us doubting just what shines for whom?

Not to speak of the fog’s reprehensible drifting! And dust blowing all over the steppes as if they hadn’t been partitioned! And the voices coasting on obliging airwaves, that conspiratorial squeaking, those indecipherable mutters!

Only what is human can truly be foreign. The rest is mixed vegetation, subversive moles, and wind.“

~ Translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh

nytimes.com
Tracy K. Smith Is the New Poet Laureate
Ms. Smith, 45, says she hopes to be a poetry evangelist of sorts, going to parts of the United States “where literary festivals don’t always go.”
By Alexandra Alter

In her memoir, “Ordinary Light,” the poet Tracy K. Smith describes reading a poem by Emily Dickinson in her fifth-grade class and feeling a flash of recognition, as if she were “privy to magic.”

“I couldn’t help but memorize a poem whose meter had worked upon me quickly and in a way I didn’t quite yet understand,” she writes. “Its rhyme scheme cemented, for me, a new sense of inevitability.”

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Love After Love by Derek Walcott - Read by Tom Hiddleston

“I read this poem often. Once a month at least. In the madness and mayhem of modern life, where every man seems committed to an endless search for approval and esteem of his fellows and peers, no matter what the cost, this poem reminds me of a basic truth: that we are, as we are, “enough.”‘ Most of us are motivated deep down by a sense of insufficiency, a need to be better, stronger, faster; to work harder; to be more committed, more kind, more self-sufficient, more successful. We are driven be a sense that we are not, as we are, ‘enough.’ But this short poem by Derek Walcott is like a declaration of unconditional love. It’s like the embrace of an old friend. We are each of us whole, perfectly imperfect, enough.”
Tom Hiddleston

Love After Love
By Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Nobel laureate poet Derek Walcott died aged 87 at his home on the Caribbean island of St Lucia on March 17 2017.