song for night

of all the books released this fall,
i most anticipate one: song for night,
a novella by chris abani. since graceland in 2004,
i've read each of his subsequent works.
abani's prose is naked, ingenious, and at times, devastating in its intensity.
words the kind that make you
wonder--for days--of the mind
from which they came.
a review of song for night in the los angeles times.


good reading

the current issue of poets & writers magazine (september/october 2007) promises to be an exciting read! of particular interest are the profiles of fiction writers junot diaz and edwidge danticat (pictured on the cover):

The Most Important Story of Her Life: A Profile of Edwidge Danticat ~ By Nina Shen Rastogi "Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat never considered writing a memoir, until the events of one extraordinary year left her without a choice." [read more...]

Chasing the Whale: A Profile of Junot Díaz ~ By Frank Bures "A few years after Junot Díaz made a huge splash on the literary scene with his debut, Drown (Riverhead Books, 1996), a story collection published when he was just twenty-eight, one of his good friends, Francisco Goldman, began to worry."
[read more...]


driving home yesterday afternoon, i saw the following printed on the bumper sticker of the car in front: "speak your mind even if your voice shakes." ~maggie kuhn.


things unsaid

i am interested in this, but perhaps more curious about the forced graciousness that occurs between women friends when enmity has begun its lurk. an excerpt of melissa tandiwe myambo's "deciduous gazettes" (a fiery short story that appears in opening spaces: contemporary african women's writing):

"Why should we put ourselves through the ritual of respectful greetings, feigning pleased surprise and mutual delight at this chance encounter? The words will flow but the body will jerk awkwardly, the pupils oscillate at an extremely high speed and each of us will push our shopping carts in front of us--between us--defensively. So we pretend not to see each other. But it is a more honest sort of pretence."


rituals of renewal

air and sunlight hold the signs of the season's change; i am witnessing the coming of fall. to honor nature's cycle of renewal, i've given myself a delightful, deep-cleansing facial with the following 'homemade' mask:

equal parts of 100% bentonite clay and organic apple cider vinegar (both ingredients are found at a natural foods store). it's that simple, and the result is divine.

here is to the universal flow!


good things come

i am learning that if...
i ask for what i want (truly ask for it: pray, wish, intention it); allow myself to receive it (welcome the opportunities around me); release judgments about it (do not place limits on how or when it might arrive); feel the joy of it (assume it is already on its way); i can have it in ways more beautiful and affirming than i could have imagined.


weekend in review

inspiring moment: receiving in the mail, a 'high priority' book from my wish list; then, discovering the friend who'd sent it had ordered an additional three, soon to arrive.

silly moment: relating the past week's events to a friend in a most dramatic and exaggerated tone; then, deciding to make a habit of this!

proud moment: returning to a workout plan that includes the elliptical and leg press machines.

'so what?' moment: eating an overstuffed stromboli soon after working out.

saving moment: continuing to write, even without external sources of encouragement; then, remembering that this has come in various forms--like the friend who granted my wish for more books.



the way of things

as of late: the things that have worked out are those i decided to just let go. once i removed my focus, and stopped worrying about the outcome, these matters seemed to resolve themselves within a short time.

i am truly understanding what is often required is the ability to let things be. i trust each thing that comes, no matter its initial appearance, is simply in its divine season--the natural universal flow that brings just what is needed.


the possibilities

writer carleen brice's recent post encourages me to think a bit more on my ideal writing space. i envision warm, comfortable, vibrant places. i am creating this, or something better.

(pictured: my fabulous collage.)


what we answer to

"...if you want to call everybody, one thing you have to do is to call them with music...music is everybody's name."~salif keita.

the great malian singer performing "folon" ("the past"). beautiful is it not?


powerful beyond measure

"there is nothing enlightened
about shrinking so that
other people won't feel
insecure around you."
~ marianne williamson

[pictured: a gift from a dear friend.]

before we act

i am learning: when we agree to do something we are unwilling to, we are practicing a form of emotional dishonesty. service performed because of guilt or fear is actually quite dishonoring to the giver and receiver, as the resentment (the giver feels) soon becomes evident. the challenge, i think, is learning to give only when the spirit is aligned with the act--this unity of heart and hands is the mark of true generosity.


even when

yesterday, i had the kind of morning in which i'd ask "why me?" aloud, at least twice. somewhere, somehow, a pipe burst, and water dripped for hours, onto the bathroom floor. and as all of this--laying more towels and sheets--was happening, i had a preset obligation to meet (and as the minutes passed, more arose).

in some way, i felt calm--blessed, even. all things considered, if the greatest worry of the day is a broken pipe, and a few hours of cleanup, all is well. so, after the plumber left, i put a favorite cd on blast, and cleaned.


so it is

i've been thinking, as i often do, about how experience usually begins with the thoughts, the images we hold in our minds. just a bit ago, i came upon this:

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.” --Albert Einstein

"treat life as a workshop"

acclaimed nigerian writer, ben okri, is a brilliant man. this (as appeared in an interview by jurriaan kamp, in the may 2006 issue of ode magazine) is one reason why:

“The problem of our world is not just that there are people who are ideologically unsound; Our problem is that there are too many people who are not properly fitted for their jobs...Many people are in vocations that are at odds with their true natures. That is not the best way for them to contribute to this world. When you are at odds with your vocation, you acquire a skewed view of the world. And what you give to the world winds up being skewed too...If only more people would be true to their sense of their vocations, we would have more happiness in this world.

Education tends to divert us from our true selves. Education is not about putting facts into the heads of children. Education should help children discover their talents and their best qualities—no matter how humble or how exalted. I think it goes back to our parents. I was fortunate enough to have a father who at a certain point allowed me to go my own way. He wanted me to be a lawyer, but when I persisted in my desire to become a writer, he let me be. If you have parents who are over-determining, it will be too late before you discover where your best talents lie. They should let you treat life as a workshop in which you are working solely on yourself, working out who you are. Making your mistakes, stumbling along, it will eventually become apparent that you are better at this than at that. Or that you are feeling happier when you do one thing than when you do another. I think that is what enables good fortune...[read more on ben okri's perspectives on vocation...]"


waiting on time

some months ago, i wrote on cesaria evora, and her haunting, beautiful morna--a genre of cape verdean music, which centers on the aching of nostalgia. i admire that evora came into 'success' quite untraditionally: she completed her first acclaimed album, miss perfumado, in 1992, at age 51, after years of uncertainty.

an e-mail exchange with lisa of eudaemonia reminded me of evora's story--that each of us is on a unique path of actualization. while we might look to the achievements and experiences of others for inspiration or lessons, nothing in anyone else's journey dictates what might (or not) be for us.


can't deny it

i spent the early morning attending to bills--organizing them, and arranging their payments. i learned this some time ago, and so, was resolved to witness the day's blessing, however it might arrive. it came in this way: because of a last-minute decision to stop by a place i hadn't been in some time, i came across someone who treated me to a delicious lunch.

i am grateful for good food, and the kindness of acquaintances.


with love

last evening, i went to the mailbox hoping for a book i'd ordered, and found one of the dearest gifts i've ever received. my good friend--a woman with whom i'd had an immediate connection at the writing workshop i attended about a month ago--had sent a lovely handmade bookmark (pictured above), along with a note, which reads in part: "i hope this book mark is something you can use and i hope it reminds you--each time you are reading the work of others--of your own magnificent gifts and stories and novels to come..."

this morning, i am feeling tremendously blessed.



so long a letter by mariama ba has long been a treasure of african fiction writing, and women's fiction writing. i first read this novel some years ago as an undergraduate in a post-colonial literature course. since then, i've reread it twice, and last evening, i went to it again to rediscover what it is that makes this eighty-something page novel so rich and enduring. i think in part, it's ba's lyrical writing, which so beautifully captures that inimitable love between women friends. from the opening page:

"If over the years, and passing through the realities of life, dreams die, I still keep intact my memories, the salt of remembrance.

I conjure you up. The past is reborn, along with its procession of emotions. I close my eyes. Ebb and tide of feeling: heat and dazzlement, the woodfires, the sharp green mango, bitten into in turns, a delicacy in our greedy mouths. I close my eyes. Ebb and tide of images: drops of sweat beading your mother's ochre-coloured face as she emerges from the kitchen, the procession of young wet girls chattering on their way back from the springs.

We walked the same paths from adolescence to maturity, where the past begets the present. My friend, my friend, my friend. I call on you three times."