Last night I had a nightmare. Today I am thankful that I woke up. And Lord it’s a beautiful today here at my parents house in the mountains, so I am thankful for that, too. And also, for acts of resistance:
All beings were given original instructions, instructions in how to live as a relative with all relations, how to live for the continuance of life itself. Daily, our other relatives, those seen and unseen, continue to fulfill their roles and responsibilities for life to exist. With the exception of some Indigenous communities most “humans” have strayed from our roles and responsibilities. Because of that, it is no surprise we find ourselves in such a state of unbalance.
On this day I give wopila, thanks, to all those who continue in the 500 year old resistance to colonization.
Thanks: to Matt Remle, to Indigenous peoples, to large-minded writers, to every strong-spined person and community who shows us how to be in the world. Or at least, how to try to be, you know?
Doris Lessing, a Rhodesian refugee, is known for her feminist novel The Golden Notebook. However, she claims that she doesn’t want to be remembered for her feminist views expressed in the book. Lessing justified this by saying that she ”thinks [that] all the time we are being manipulated by great social currents. We are not often aware of it.” Since gender is a social construct, it effects all aspects of life. Therefore, Lessing argues that her novel should not be considered feminist, more so as a reflection or contradiction of the societal views and norms.
Five spice candlelight pie witchy moonness up the wind it’s November
(get more Chiharu Shiota)
Mandala is a word which means circle in Sanskrit. Mandala is a circle which holds the universe. Mandala is a journal of art and literature published each spring by the University of Georgia’s Institute for African American Studies.
Mandala is a long conversation with your seatmate on an airplane, a conversation which is actually really wonderful and provoking and not forced at all. Mandala is a heart map. Mandala is not limited-edition. Mandala awoke in the morning and found that they were no longer on the endangered species list. Mandala awoke in the morning and found themselves transformed into a well-adjusted bear. Mandala awoke in the morning and found themselves circling near the ceiling.
Mandala is a point of departure.
Now, each issue of Mandala is usually organized by theme, but this year after some thought we have decided to depart from that, too. Just this once. As the gatekeepers of Mandala, we would like to ensure that the gate is wide and approachable, which in the past has meant welcoming work from all kinds - students, professionals, schoolchildren, and more, from Athens and points beyond. It has also meant being a platform for explorations of race, gender, and culture, and particularly for those whose work may be neglected by traditional media outlets. It still means those things.
But this year, it also means no theme. It’s Mandala Journal, Issue X. Send us your work, and don’t worry about whether or not it may be pigeonholed, squeezed to fit into any thematic box - we welcome it all.
Mandala is a widening circle.
and does not bring poetry with her so much as finds it
may we all be so lucky
So, PBS is producing a series featuring Tretheway on poetry in daily life. You may not need reminding that poetry does not exist on a plane above our lives or on any separate plane at all, but I like such reminders, find them comforting; and I’ll take all the comfort I can get.
I saw in the school we visited, Marcus Garvey Academy, and in the InsideOut poetry program there, the happy outline of my own elementary school and my early engagement with poetry in the classroom. I saw again how poetry can help bring back what’s lost to us, figuratively, and how the study of poetry — the pleasurable engagement with language and the skills that come with it — can help prepare us for the concrete work we must do to as citizens to promote a just and thriving nation.
And PBS correspondent Jeffery Brown, producer of the series, shares this wonderful thing:
It was 12-year-old Quintin Pope, who stayed with me long after the visit. He told us about his poetry coming from his “deep, deep thoughts” and I was startled at first, in part because I hadn’t even asked a question, and yet he had a desire, a need to tell us.
"What kind of deep thoughts?" I asked.
"Like I would say, ‘my poem is a baby going from life to death.’ Everybody gets a life and everybody, well, everybody will have to go to sleep one day."
Quintin Pope! Keep doing what you’re doing, Quintin.
(h/t The Georgia Review)
Kara Walker on fact, fiction, and her (in)famous work titled “Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred Between the Thighs Of One Young Negress And Her Heart”:
Overhead projectors are a didactic tool, they’re schoolroom tools. They’re about - in my thinking, they’re about conveying facts. The work that I do is about projecting fictions into those facts.
I think every writer stand in the doorway of their prison.
Half in, half out. The very act of storytelling is a return to the prison of what torments us and keeps us captive, and writers are repeat offenders. You go through this whole journey with your prison, revisiting it in your mind. Hopefully, you get to a point when you realize there was beauty in your prison, too. Maybe, when you get to that point, “I’m on the reservation of my mind” can also be a beautiful thing.
Spoken word poetry connects people in ways others forms cannot; a well-performed poem links the poet’s passion to the audience’s.
I had the incredible pleasure to meet spoken word poet Buddy Wakefield in Athens last February when he went on tour. After his performance, he waited in the back of the venue for an hour so that everyone who wanted to could introduce themselves. When someone couldn’t afford merchandise, he would discount it to almost nothing or give it away for free– just because someone wanted it. That night I wrote in my journal, “tonight I rushed to Normaltown to see Buddy Wakefield perform his spoken word. Talking to him, he seemed to be made up of more kindness in a moment than I’ve given in a year. Feeling grateful and compassionate and full.” Nothing seems more true about him.
Wakefield’s poetry is filled with a mix of kindness and intensity that we’re often to scared to confront. I’m inspired that someone’s passion for words translates into a love for people.
Through his poetry, Buddy Wakefield taught me that my words don’t have to be nonsense– that what hides behind the seemingly unimportant is something more meaningful. Even when I’ve lost my words, waiting to find them is worth it.
Here’s a recording from a performance he gave in 2009 at NYU. The poem is called “Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars,” and it’s about the importance of using words (and so much more):
And you can learn more about Wakefield on his website.
Lo, it is Saturday, and now we may say (at least) that a woman who writes about women has won a Nobel Prize in literature. Say hello to Alice Munro, Nobel Prize winner:
If you want to celebrate, maybe a good way would be to read this old essay in the Missouri Review by Cheryl Strayed (another woman who writes about women, incidentally). It’s about writing, becoming, needing a surrogate mother, and living in Munro Country. It thinks and feels, and it’s lovely:
"One afternoon when I was twenty-five, I opened the lid of the black metal mailbox that was bolted to the front of the house where I lived and found a plain white envelope addressed to me in a grandmotherly scrawl from an address in British Columbia. It was January in Minneapolis and cold-really cold-but I pulled my gloves off anyway and tore the envelope open and stood on the frozen wooden stairs to read the letter inside. Dear Cheryl, it began in the same hand that had addressed the envelope:
Your letter and story were forwarded to me here in B.C. where I am staying until April-near to 2 of my daughters and my one grandchild. I want to say that I was moved and delighted by the Horse and Blue Canoe. It’s a wonderful, unexpected kind of story and I wouldn’t change a hair on its head. (That’s what my favorite editor always says to me before he proposes about 50 changes.) You are quite right to stay out of academic life if you can. Are you eligible for any grants? If you were in Canada I’d certainly urge you to apply for one from the Canada Council. You must continue writing but you do have lots of time. You’re two years younger than my youngest daughter. I wasn’t writing nearly so well at your age.
With great good wishes-Alice Munro
A shaky, sickening glee washed through me and then drained away almost immediately, replaced by a daffy disbelief: Alice Munro had written to me.
Alice! Munro! Those two words were a kind of Holy Grail to me then: the lilting rise and fall of Alice, the double-barreled thunk of Munro. Together they seemed less like a name than an object I could hold in my hands-a stoneware bowl, perhaps, or a pewter platter, equal parts generous and unforgiving. They bore the weight of everything I loved, admired and understood about the art and craft of fiction, everything I ached to master myself.”
Strayed is delighted to find that Munro’s country, like hers, has fundamentalist Christians, deer hunters, and rock shops. So does mine, and it delights me, too.