Every few years around this time, I read or see or hear a version of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Such a beautiful prose poem where the words sing like the wind and the sea herself. This year, I drew to a reading of the piece, as I found the very LP record that we used to have when I was a child, … Continue reading The Close and Holy Darkness! Winter Solstice and the Song of Poetry: A Moment with Dylan Thomas
Dear all, it is with a heavy heart that I am letting you know Georgina Herrera has passed on yesterday. She was an inspiring and much beloved poet whose glittering sparseness was a counterpoint to the Spanish classical flowery formalism of older Cuban writers. Her personal story centers Afro-Cubanhood as the location, from where, and for whom, she wrote. Her experience of the formative years … Continue reading To the Land of the Maroons! Commemorating Georgina Herrera
I haven’t been on the blog for quite a while. 2021 is proving to be a year of elusive concentration, spiralling exhaustion, sadness, and intense physical pain. I have re-acquainted myself with some drawing, although I have been reading about the state of the world and am often disturbed by what I see our little planet coming to. But visually, October, and the autumn in … Continue reading Season of Verses
I’m late this year in commemorating the anniversary of September 11, 1973. This infamous date came into being as the day that the military dictatorship of General Agusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of socialist President Salvador Allende Gossens in Santiago, Chile. Much has been written and recorded from that time and in terms of historical and personal testimonials of thousands of Chileans who … Continue reading Late September Commemoration
More than fifty years ago, a young singer songwriter burst on to the exciting and boundary breaking music scene in Brazil, a country grappling with the legacy of cruelty, colonization, migration, and above all, enslavement. Burgeoning movements for racial and regional equality, along with student and feminist movements, workers, and small peasantry, found themselves clamouring for both more and just representation in Brazilian social, economic and … Continue reading Who’s Your Troubadour? Fifty Years of Chico Buarque
I see the chaos being fomented in Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia… All places where I have had the fortune to travel and the misfortune to read the news of those countries forever after… They are locked in my heart like the humble pleasures of nostalgia for friends in my country of origin. Yet health has always forced me back to Canada… So this verse … Continue reading The Real People
I’ve slowed down on my blog due to health and other very important circumstances. But I have not stopped… I have been, like so many of us in Canada, overwhelmed by the physical forensic evidence of a genocide so recent that it is actually on-going. Kamloops Residential School, Cowessess First Nation Marieval Residential School, and other Residential schools have provided evidence of over 1300 deaths … Continue reading Our Eyes See the Blood on the Red of Your Flag
Happy Pride Month! It’s been strange to be as fragmented as the LGBT community has been even before covid19. But lack of face to face contact has in particular been hard for LGBT people, especially young people who may be living with homo/transphobic or disapproving family members. So it’s a month to honour our many communities’ resilience, our survival in spite of centuries of exclusion, … Continue reading Intersecting Pride and Resistance
It’s been 6 weeks since I have been on the blog. I have been watching the state of the world with eyes that want to look away, but can’t. It seems we are on a collision course with hopelessness and destruction, vaccine or no vaccine. Human rights are being violated and lives taken with impunity, due to governmental inaction (India, Brazil, Peru) and governmental action … Continue reading Our Uncomfortable Dread: From George Floyd to Henry Dumas
This spring, the second of the covid19 pandemic, is another lockdown. I remember my fear and isolation during the first one, the first stay at home order I had ever experienced. I am grateful that I am able to be out in sun, sitting on my balcony and enjoying the calls of the birds. The cat is also filled with alertness and enjoyment from her … Continue reading A Groundhog Spring! Haiku
I’ve been a bit slow on the translation front. I’ve been working on a selection of poems from Cuba’s Georgina Herrera. This writer really captivated my interest when I was studying in Cuba for my doctoral research. Her slim paperback volumes were on display at UNEAC in the Vedado and my favourite poetry bookstore in La Habana, Fayad Jamis, in old Havana. Here is a … Continue reading Poetry for the Peeps! Georgina Herrera
I’ve been away from the blog for nearly a month this time. I’ve been grappling with flares of chronic health issues and also been feeling somewhat disheartened by the announcement of a surge of covid-19 patients where I live, the increasing shuttering of small businesses, the business as usual approach of capitalist warlords, the rise of tent cities in the parks around me and an … Continue reading Poetry for the Peeps! Adam Zagajewski
I’ve not been able to watch the fall of the British Monarchy and the Republican Revolution as televised by Oprah. Just not happening! Every time I think of the British royal family, I am reminded of Sue Townsend’s classic, The Queen and I, a masterpiece of Republican humour. As you’ve guessed, I haven’t succumbed yet to the Crown! Instead, I returned to the influences of … Continue reading A Little Somethin’ for Megan Markle?
This week, I joined RonovanWrites’ Haiku challenge, centering the words “time” and “slip”at https://ronovanwrites.com/2021/02/22/ronovan-writes-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-346-slip-and-time/. Some of you may know I lost my father last summer to Covid. I was trapped by coronavirus policies and my own chronic health issues and unable to be with him. I miss him lots, especially when reading literature from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America that he introduced me to, … Continue reading Haiku of Mourning
Rumi says: You are not a drop in the ocean. You are an ocean in one drop. Here I offer my drop of awe and respect for water, life giving and taking. I hope you enjoy them! Continue reading Drop in the Ocean: A Picture Gallery
It is International Mother Tongue Day, today, the 21st of February. It’s an important day to celebrate because imperial monopolies of language (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French) have erased so many forms of communication and Indigenous and languages. Only this month, the Mexican government recognized 68 Indigenous languages as national languages alongside Spanish. This took over 500 years, to return official status to languages that existed … Continue reading Poetry in a Thousand Tongues! International Mother Language Day
I’ve joined the Haiku Challenge from RonovanWrites again this week! The words for this week’s challenge were “teeth” and “bite”. Wintery words for me! Went for a drive and saw pristine winter landscapes in the middle of a cold snap.Like so many, I was fascinated by the light. But the bone chilling cold bites hard! winter bites me hard bones and joints bare teeth even … Continue reading Polar Vortex Haiku!
This is a continuation of my previous blogs in which I present my translations of the AfroCuban poet Georgina Herrera. I find her an amazing poet whose economy of language and simple words belies the deep and complex essence of her feelings and poetry. She balances a righteous anger with a hope for wholeness, with regard to both self and community. Her early life was … Continue reading Poetry for the Peeps! Georgina Herrera, Cuba
This week, I’ve been trying to get through the winter blues and the covid blahs by reading some humour. Over a hundred years ago, journalist and humorist Don Marquis created some of funniest free verse around. Wikipedia tells us: Marquis’s best-known creation was Archy, a fictional cockroach (developed as a character during 1916) who had been a free-verse poet in a previous life, and who supposedly left poems on … Continue reading Of Feral Cats and Cockroaches!
For many years I have thought of reflecting upon and examining certain conjunctures and countries where I have had the opportunity to spend some time. Unlike many of my middle-class peers in Canada, my experiences of studying, researching and living abroad were often shaped by both overt and covert racism and sometimes homophobia and sexism. Instead, I have been focussing on where I make my … Continue reading Reluctant Witness: Kids Books, History, and Whiteness
The following three poems are by the contemporary Afro-Cuban poet and scriptwriter, Georgina Herrera, who has graciously given permission to share and translate her work . Author of numerous collections of poetry and radio and television scripts. I have done the English translations you see below. I’ve included a biography from Wikipedia, to give you some idea of the achievements of this great poet, who … Continue reading Poetry for the Peeps! AfroCuban Poetry in Translation
I am taking the time today to reflect briefly on my blog and the reasons for starting it… It’s been a year and a half. And what a journey these times have been. In my poem Pachacutec, I refer to the world being upside down and there’s no doubt the covid-19 pandemic has brought about complete upheaval. But things have unfortunately stuck in their place … Continue reading With a Little Help from my Friends!
Today, I’ve chosen a child’s memory of Christmases past, not in Wales, but in Cuba. Daughter of poet Eliseo Diego, Josefina de Diego’s prose poem, El Reino del Abuelo/Grandfather’s Kingdom, is a gentle and melancholic look back at Christmas time in a house full of inquisitive children, and adults immersed in the literary and musical worlds of Cuba in the 1950s, just before the Revolution.I’ve … Continue reading A Child’s Christmas in Cuba: Grandfather’s Kingdom
Today marks the shortest daylight in our hemisphere, and the arrival of winter’s official season. But as of tomorrow, the days will lengthen again imperceptibly, and for those of us who need the light, like morning glories or sunflowers, hope will gradually be born anew. Indigenous and pagan peoples celebrated and celebrate the energies and magic of this day when the darkness must be propitiated … Continue reading Solstice 2020
there have beenso many armiesso many hungersfood, land, water,the naming and naming of ourselves,chanting out in slogansthe red, brown, black of usthe “not-you” of us. there have beenso many citizensso many subjectskidnappings, rapesbuyings and sellings at auction blocks.since then ships and trains hurtling, planes gleamingso many travellerstrading home for outsidershiptrading belonging for hopethere have been so many. there have beenso many handssowing, tilling, building, diggingso … Continue reading Citizen Heart
Another contribution from me to Ronovan Writes’ weekly haiku challenge. This week’s words were “mad” and “sane”. The haiku’s form provides structure. Our minds provide the creativity! The link is here: https://ronovanwrites.com/2020/12/14/ronovan-writes-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-336-mad-and-sane/. As a person with fibromyalgia and chronic conditions, I am always heartened to see the work of others like him who push through their circumstances to find humour and creativity. Girl, it’s not … Continue reading Why Now? Haiku
On this 17th day of December, and in this year 2020, especially, I honour Babalu Aye, the great Yoruba Orisha of illness and healing.Whether it be ourselves, our loved ones, this beautiful earth, the vast oceans and blue lakes and rivers, the air we breathe; they who invoke Babaluaye on this day, invoke transformative and curative energies. His colours are purple and yellow and brown. … Continue reading For Hope and Healing: A Visual Homage
The following drawings have been done over the last month. The greying days and short daylight hours contrive to make gloomier, an already difficult time under a second, though hardly stringent, lockdown. Every day has been a litany of anxiety and sadness, grief and powerlessness. Every day ordinary people triumph over extraordinary odds to grapple with how to keep themselves safe, fed, and sheltered during … Continue reading Antidote to Grey! A Picture Gallery
It’s my third attempt with https://ronovanwrites.com/2020/12/07/ronovan-writes-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-335-curl-and-paw/. The challenge is real, hahaha. Word prompts remind me of slam poetry, and the adrenalin of having to “come up with something”. And the more I delve into the haiku form, the more I see its possibilities. It’s spare and contained syllables contain worlds! This week’s words are “curl” and “paw”. seems like a paw, softcurling nails that tear … Continue reading Haiku: Words and Worlds!
Once again, I joined in https://ronovanwrites.com , Ronovanwrites’ Haiku challenge based on the two words, “grace” and “slip”. I enjoy the exercise for my rusty brain. And for me, so much more enjoyable than writing essays! The Haiku form has been around for centuries. It’s very sparseness makes it alluring. It’s like the very distilled form of story telling. 90 proof! Salud! Wind Speaks Winter … Continue reading The Wind Speaks Winter: Haiku
Autumn is a time when spiders look for warm places to spin their webs and lay their egg sacs. I’ve always been terrified of large and hairy spiders but outside among the plants they design the most beautiful webs which catch the dew or frost of colder times. While, I’m not a fan of spider infestations, one or two small ones don’t terrify me. In … Continue reading Poetry for the Peeps! Of Spiders and Refugees
I recently found a blog on haiku which also offers up writing challenges, by assigning words to construct a piece around. I hadn’t engaged in that sort of thing since high school. But I decided to try my hand at it. I learned that a) it’s harder than it seems and b) that it is fun to do once in a while. I hope you … Continue reading Life, View, Haiku
What a year this has been. After the loss of my father to covid 19, I watched a lot of early Bengali films that I had seen first with him. Although I started watching Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, I could not continue.I remembered being a small Bengali girl in a white provincial Canadian suburb, harassed by passengers and bus drivers, as we went, in our … Continue reading My Father and Soumitra: Mourning and Memory
Many people living with chronic illness, worry, and pain, experience insomnia. In fact, even children can experience it. It is a very insidious problem, and with the current state of affairs, I suspect that more people are staying awake than before. Paradoxically, even those with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, may be unable to sleep, although they feel exhausted. Sometimes, after exertion, whether cleaning or shopping … Continue reading Late Night Haiku
I seek answers in the sky.Astronomy. The stars hang like freshly washed clothes.Around me cities writhe. Pandemics and empty promiseswritten in neon. When will they preen again? Can you imagine our lives now?Astronomy. Replicating the starsMalcom lived by, Billie sang by. Harriet led by.Stars made of the dust of a thousand footsteps. Astronomy. Replicating the starsthat John Carlos held in his fist.That Sandinistas, or Zapatistas, … Continue reading The Great Unknowing
So, I was recently challenged to rethink the ideas I put forward in my blog about the 2020 U.S. elections. In fact, the very idea that “the battle is over, but the war goes on”, is rooted in the validity of the present capitalist system, a system that has proven time and time again to be morally and materially bankrupt when it comes to the … Continue reading The Parable of the Axe: Reflections From a Small Sliver
The battle is over , but the war goes on…The biggest thanks goes to the ordinary people, who stood in lines for hours during a deadly pandemic, or negotiated on-line voting for the first time, those who kept the faith through the humble act of counting; and the Black, Muslim, Indigenous, Chicano, and Mexican peoples of the United States, whose citizenship has come through so … Continue reading The Battle is Over, but the War Goes On!
I love the myriad colours of fall. Along with early summer, there is so much variety in textures, hues, and scents. The scents of fall are unique to our Northern climate; just as tropical humidity carries the echo of over-ripe vegetation, the fall is a time of life buried beneath the insulating carpet of leaves, readying itself for the next rebirth. Similarly, moisture, the covid … Continue reading Fall Beauty
This year the colours of autumn are as beautiful as ever. But the rhythm of the year seems so disrupted by the coronavirus and climate crisis in so many places. This year the colours of fall seem to invite one in. I return, like the seasons, to drawing parks, morning glories, evening skies, and of course, the little mews/muse! Like so many artists of colour … Continue reading The Colours of Autumn
Today marks a very special day for me. It is the occasion of my hundredth blog post. I started this project as a labour of love and as a way to contribute to a culture of resistance, love, and hope for a more just and equitable world about a year and a half ago. I had no idea when I started, that Covid19 would make … Continue reading One Hundred Posts Against Solitude!
I’ve decided to focus on 2 poems today, They are short and remind me in some ways of the poems of Langston Hughes. Their author is woman who I had the pleasure of hearing once, a member of UNEAC(National Union of Artists and Writers, Cuba), and an inspiration herself, to a younger generation of Afro-Cuban women poets. Below, Wikipedia gives a succinct account of her … Continue reading Water Finds its Own Level
I was unfriended during the summer of “we’re all in this together” on my social media page for writing the following poem. You can have a look for yourselves. Not surprising that a white woman would find it offensive, if she feels her position somehow needs defending. This reminds me of the old story, that if you talk about racism, acknowledge its existence– you are … Continue reading I read the news today, oh boy…
No much up to writing lately, and they say a picture is worth a thousand words. 5 Septembers ago, the equinox gave me the gift of a new face. I was afflicted with a virus called Bell’s Palsy. It changed my life. We are all judged on first appearances. I used to be excruciatingly self-conscious after my face became paralysed. Even today, eating in front … Continue reading Post-Equinoctial Saudade
Just this past week, Cuba had its Saint day, as La Virgen de la Caridad de Cobre, her patron saint, was celebrated in Santiago de Cuba on September 8th. On the 12, Yoruba deity, Oshun, the syncretic counterpart of Cachita (Caridad), daughter and goddess of rivers, love, femaleness, guile, and beauty, is celebrated. One of her symbols is the sunflower, and among other things, she … Continue reading Poetry for the Peeps!
Today I am sharing a poem by Emmanuel Ortiz. It was written back in 2002. I remember receiving it in my email so long ago. But it speaks to the importance of this date, September 11th, for millions of Americans–no, not from the United States, but from Chile. Like millions of people, the word “American” for me is not confined to the stars and stripes. … Continue reading A Moment of Silence
Mine is reading. For many years, I have escaped or disappeared into texts. Writers have made the visible world invisible and the invisible world, visible. They have shown us downward plummets and paths toward happiness. They take us on journeys into the core of the earth or the heart of the sky. When the world is going to hell, whether it be through bullying and … Continue reading What’s Your Superpower? Children’s Books in a Pandemic World
We are entering into the beginning of fall, turning the corner of summer into autumn’s path. This bizarre pandemic year with its spring lockdown, cool early summer, and sweltering July and August is bringing a September of extremes to us! I am hoping for a warm sunny fall that stretches out for as long as possible! Thought I’d share the poems of two poetesses, giants … Continue reading Autumn’s Corner
poetry and art that speaks to the spirit, the mind, and the heart! Continue reading Deep Song: Poetry for Our Times!
Many people have started to ask me why I have not put anything on this blog in more than a month. Since I started this project a year and half ago, I have tried to respond to issues that have moved me deeply, created a moral restlessness, and an artistic response. I believe that art– visual, poetry, story-telling, music– has a great and necessary role … Continue reading Love in the Time of Coronavirus
If Bob Marley were alive today, it is likely that he would be assassinated again, by the U.S. government and its agents. His 75th birthday would be tomorrow, February 6th, although he perished at the age of 36, a man in the prime of his music, lyrics, and creativity. It is fitting he was born in February, a free spirited Aquarius and in the month … Continue reading Hey, Bobby Marley!