"There is nothing casual / about casualties of war."
I was thirteen years old, a freshman in high school. This was my first mission trip – a week of working in an elementary school in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
Inner-city urban experience, meet private-school-raised girl.
School grounds within the walls of my church, meet bars and constant police surveillance.
The students we were going to serve looked a lot like me, but I could not feel further from their experience
By Stacy Barton
I sit in the light of two fluorescent bulbs –
one flickering above the workbench,
the other swinging over the washer and dryer –
and wonder over my nest, soon bare.
Here in the garage,
with only the leftover laundry to stir my memory,
I find fewer cues to catapult my heart.
30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, after Easter take a look at some of the sketchiest bunnies, post-apocalyptic artwork, Alec Baldwin interviews Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon revisits his news anchor position, "Walden Pond" to become a digital reality, robots make furniture, and 36 big names in their humble beginnings...
Poetry is language made material.
It presents us with objects and the world, yes, that is part of its materiality, but it also – and perhaps fundamentally – makes our very language into a thing, rather than simply a medium. Like remembering that you exist in time, and becoming aware of your temporality, poetry takes what we are always immersed in and says, Remember; become aware.
Thus it is like all art a meditative practice. You must slow down, quiet yourself, and actively receive – a strange gesture, perhaps paradoxical, but one that is, if nothing else, prayer. And so for Holy Week, I want to present four (mostly) contemporary poems that can direct meditation without limiting it, that can engage prayer in our physical existence and the existence of the Resurrection as event, that can slow one down, that can build sensual memory of the acts we do and life we live in constant remembrance of it, of Him.
A look at Poster Cred, the Seattle-based art project, Jesse Eisenberg shares his favorite memories of growing up with Jeremy Lin, "Food Rules," by Michael Pollan is born in stop animation, the new film from the writer of Slumdog Millionaire, and Allen Ginsberg vs. the Westminster Dog Show. All this and even more awesomeness... inside the blog.
A new poem by Sarah Vanderveen
The Painting Lesson, and a PrayerTwo women in hats,
feet solidly planted in the damp grass,
lean toward a canvas
propped against an easel.
One woman dabs intently with a brush,
the other looks out at the ocean,
then makes a staccato gesture--
When Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis departed on his three-month sabbatical at the beginning of January, I sent him a list of books, films and music that I thought would nourish his mind and spirit in, perhaps, different ways than the media he normally consumes do.
Jim's sabbatical — a true Sabbath in the literal sense — is designed to be a time of rest and, more importantly, rejuvenation. It will also be a creative time when he will be working on a new book.
Jim is a creative. A writer. A visionary. He regularly digs deep into his heart and soul, breaks himself open and pours out his passion, hope and faith for the edification of others. If creatives aren't diligent, though, we can work ourselves into the ground. Our wells can run dry.
In sending Jim this list of what I like to think of as "soul food," I hoped to inspire his imagination and give him new fuel for the fire, if you will.
We all knew it would come.
Someday. Always later.
It comes for us all. Sure.
We know that. Someday.
But when someday draws near
for someone you love
whose silenced breath sears
your lungs with flames of grief
and sobs so immense
How dare the sun ascend?
The stars to shine?
Even the yeast to rise!
Ten years on, I'm remembering the literature I read and the music that kept me going in the days and months after 9/11. I had Rumi and Whitman on my bedside table, reading them back to back, alternating between selections of the Mathnawi and poems from Leaves of Grass, sometimes feeling like the two were one, the soul of America, and that the soul of Islam were intersecting at some point beyond where the eye could see:
Whoever you are!, motion and reflection are especially for you, The divine ship sails the divine sea for you. -- Walt Whitman
Come, come, whoever you are, Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving, Ours is not a caravan of despair. Even if you have broken your vows a thousand times It doesn't matter Come, come yet again, come. -- Rumi
Until then, the Quran for me was a book of personal spiritual guidance, a convening symbol for my religious community. But after 9/11, I viewed it as a balm for my country's pain, especially lines from Ayat al-Kursi: "His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them."
Eschewing perfection, they knotted in a flaw,
the human signature and kink that made
the carpet whole -- not less perfect, but more
for the fraying edge, the bleeding dyes
that cloak their treasure in disguise,
an act of indirection modeled from on high:
as when the Deity said Be ...
and out crawled -- the twisted,
the crippled, the deformed.
"I will call them my people, who were not my people. And her beloved, who was not beloved." (Romans 9:25 referencing Hosea 2:23)
Estranged, alienated, and removed; anyone living in an industrialized modern society in the 21st century would be able to define, or at least identify the sentiments of these words. Our time is one of mass communication and instantaneous access to knowledge. And yet our lives are too compartmentalized, increasingly divided, and our society reflects this. Indeed the existential writers of yesteryear were correct in diagnosing the iron cage that would befall us, ultimately leading to an eclipse of reason.