Archive for April, 2016

A valid piece on a community interest

Spikey Mouse Photography

librarys closedClosing library’s

Reading, one of the most useful, mischievous, secretly rebellious of acts. I can remember from an early age going to the local library with my mum to change my books and then later with my friends to do homework and to hang out. They were always a quiet peaceful place to go and sit and read a book or magazine in. If you needed help the librarian could always be counted on to find what you were looking for. In the days pre internet that consisted of Encyclopedia Britannica and paper and pen!  Closing libraries is a fine way to keep the poor powerless, anyone could walk through those solid wooden doors and read quietly and learn. Our local library is the free custodian of local stories packed with drama and emotions and the history of where we live, filled with radical, stupid, exciting ideas all in one place…

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a common girl

with barrow came

laden with folded cloth

the queen did look

and saw but nothing

yet advisors say

it is so beautiful

befitting for a millionaire

a common girl

seamstress sew perfect

said she could make

the most wonderful gown

a gown that those

on the other side

of palace walls

would admire and say

how radiant and divine

in chamber warmed

by embers of the poor

took this cloth

about her frame

and posed in mirror

that glittered gold

she did look divine

and decided on a procession

at the gates the dedicated few

who bought the mugs

and waved the flags

and sang anthem on

brainwashed breath

had heard of this

most wondourus gown

stepping from the carriage

the people

gasped in awe and horror

some began to cry

for this gown

the seamstress sewed

was of the flesh

of poor and subjugated

histories oppression an

awful stench

pinned together

with the bones of

crushed rebellion

the cheering stopped

more tears did flow

and a little boy

called out

she must go

gutless form of

grey flannel

and bowler hat

tapping briefcase

with finger

pencil callused

autocratic directions

of how the

shapeless should fit

tailors chalk on cloth

decisive lines

to trim or sew

mouths stitched so

neatly shut

limbs severed so that

the fall of material

should be so suitable

old money new money

contra entries

that become the washerwomans

laundry

in colonial towns

with brighter sun

and sweated brows

grey flannel choke

and soft eton tones

cruciform stretched

with benefits denied

g&t cold pink lemonade

taking canapes on landscaped lawn

take a bow doff your cap

grateful for what you

don’t receive

inbred subservience

of the golden age

long shadows

keeping us in the dark

mouth torn open

begins to shout

blood on lips

blood on tongue

strike a match

to cauterize

and light the beacon torch

flannel shadows

cannot keep us hidden

or denied

we have voices

as we are many

and you are few

 

copyyright Chris Lawrence

 

 

Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Posted: April 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ozone Journal

By Peter Balakian
from “Ozone Journal”

 

Bach’s cantata in B-flat minor in the cassette,

we lounged under the greenhouse-sky, the UVBs hacking

at the acids and oxides and then I could hear the difference

 

between an oboe and a bassoon

at the river’s edge under cover—

trees breathed in our respiration;

 

there was something on the other side of the river,

something both of us were itching toward—

 

radical bonds were broken, history became science.

We were never the same.

 

The title poem of Peter Balakian’s Ozone Journal is a sequence of fifty-four short sections, each a poem in itself, recounting the speaker’s memory of excavating the bones of Armenian genocide victims in the Syrian desert with a crew of television journalists in 2009. These memories spark others—the dissolution of his marriage, his life as a young single parent in Manhattan in the nineties, visits and conversations with a cousin dying of AIDS—creating a montage that has the feel of history as lived experience. Bookending this sequence are shorter lyrics that span times and locations, from Nairobi to the Native American villages of New Mexico. In the dynamic, sensual language of these poems, we are reminded that the history of atrocity, trauma, and forgetting is both global and ancient; but we are reminded, too, of the beauty and richness of culture and the resilience of love.
BIOGRAPHY
Peter Balakian, born on 13 June 1951 in Teaneck (NJ), is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University, where he has taught since 1980 and where he directs the Center for Ethics and World Societies. He received his BA (1973) from Bucknell University, his MA (1975) from New York University, and his PhD (1980) from Brown University. Balakian is the author of six earlier books of poems, most recently of Ziggurat (Chicago 2010) and June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000 (HarperCollins 2001). He is also the author of the memoir Black Dog of Fate (Basic Books HarperCollins 1997), which was featured in the New York Times and in the Los Angeles Times, and the prose work The Burning Tigris (HarperCollins 2003) on the Armenian genocide, which was a New York Times best-seller and which was featured in the New York Times and in Publishers Weekly.
He has also appeared on such programs as 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, The Charlie Rose Show, Terry Gross’s “Fresh Air,” Scott Simon’s “Weekend Edition,” CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, and several other radio and TV shows. His essays on poetry, culture, art, and social thought have appeared in such publications as American Quarterly, Art in America, Boston Globe, Chronicle of Higher Education, Commentary, New York Times Magazine, New York Review of Books, and Poetry, many of which are collected in his latest book, Vise and Shadow (Chicago 2015).