LinkedIn Facebook Twitter RSS Feed
Browsing articles in "Travel"
Jun 25, 2012
Comments Off on Poetry Warriors & Other Such Heroes

Poetry Warriors & Other Such Heroes

My wife & sister both said on separate phone calls that I sounded good this week, sounded like I was floating.  We can blame the floating on the Cave Canem summer retreat I attended outside of Pittsburgh this week.  A hard (not soft) break from work, untethered – no Blackberry, no webmail in the cloud.  This type of letting go is usually unexpected when in a position of partially being the glue to an operation.  (check in, check email, answer back, call back, if you’re unlucky dial into a conference call 3,000 miles away – but I couldn’t possibly call my retreat a retreat if I stayed on the work grid.)  I did use a grey Ethernet cable to jack in and set my “out of office” message up on day 2.

The Unexpected – #1 sleep deprivation

I came prepared as a first year fellow to write & write.  I just didn’t know how writing would go.  I am a slow flow-er.  I have written one or two poems as exercises in 30 minutes, and that one or two flash pieces have actually been published without a lot of heavy handed editing.  Usually doesn’t happen that way for me.  Partially because I haven’t been disciplined enough to set a regular date with myself and push a  timer button to work my writing out.  But at Cave Canem the right before bed or hang out on a bench to 4 in the morning fellowship reminder is “10 at 10 in the bin.”  A poem a night, 10 copies printed and ready for a three hour workshop by 10 am the next day no matter what time you went to bed 11 pm (hah!), 2 am (maybe), 3:45 am (too often.)

The Unexpected – #2 mentored craft talk

I came prepared to see Cave Canem founders Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady, the 2012 faculty Thomas Sayers Ellis, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Angela Jackson, with guests Amiri Baraka & Nikki Giovanni.  I did not come prepared to be with the faculty; I did not come prepared to hear loving gestures in their questions signaling (you might want to take a closer look a this part.)  In one case Terrence asked out the starting gate “why is this a poem?” in a tone that suggested we would engage in a brief (welcome) philosophical discussion on the elements of poetry.  Truth is the tell was – nice job bro but this thing here on the Buffalo Soldier on the western border is a personal essay… or not.  I did not expect Nikki Giovanni to ask come sit in our workshop, ask me a question “Till Pharoah and Tell Pharoah, is that what you meant.”  On the solid, secure in my work but a little star struck,  I answered, “yes” not a bit unsure if my telling Nikki & the class till meant until and tell meant say something about something.  Reading between the lines, those soft faculty questions were a telegraph to the deeper craft talk they often danced around in terms of going all in or not – perhaps you should make that more clear so your reader knows it ain’t a typo.

The Unexpected – #3 star struck – black poetry rock stars & legends

Yes, I brought cash to buy books for signing.  My only disappointment was not having enough greenbacks to buy one of each!  And the readings – I made sure to get front row seats so I could be, see, & hear everything these wonderful poets had to share.

Amiri asked, “where you from?”  (a question I think he asks everyone to break the awkward ice when signing a book for a complete stranger clearly in the state of AWE.)  “LA originally but I live in San Francisco”  He responds with a wicked chuckle, “LA is an awful place.  Don’t know why anyone would want to live there.”  Underneath, I agree with a smile and walk away from the extended line with a signed copy of Razor.

 The Unexpected – #4 City of Asylum Pittsburgh

I had not heard of the City of Asylum in Pittsburgh & sister organizations/projects before Cave Canem.  Thank you Toi for your involvement on the board & connecting your fellows to the mission of this important work providing housing to writers in-exile.

The Unexpected – #5  tears, terror, ferocity dancing at 2 in the morn, teaching a few samba moves.
And now, writing this post on US Air’s Go-Go network – I hope the unexpected will continue in the pages of my writing journal.
Thank you Cave Canem!

 

Mar 14, 2012
SN Jackson
Comments Off on Blue Door

Blue Door

IMG_0313

I've always wanted a blue door.

IMG_0311

My front door is painted black.

IMG_0309

Not green or orange, but jet black.

IMG_0986

There is nothing on my door to ward off an evil eye.

IMG_0674

No knocker to say you've arrived.

IMG_0914

My black door is cool.  But it's not blue.

Feb 11, 2012
SN Jackson

Missing Morocco

IMG_0670
I miss Morocco.  The breadth and call five times a day.  The men who almost look like me, their hair like mine.  I miss the push of the street, the meat, the vegetables, the village dust.  I miss the mint tea, the no protein for breakfast but perhaps a little yoghurt and an egg.  I miss the rose water in our riad, the fear/excitement of not knowing a language (are you Berber?)

IMG_0482
IMG_0476
IMG_0913
IMG_0355

Categories