Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Month: March, 2012

Nawal El Saadawi: Uncalled-for-boldness

This year I have invited people to participate in an Arab Writers in Translation Reading Circle. Last month, several friends and I met to discuss Egyptian writer Nawal El-Saadawi’s 1983 Memoirs from the Women’s Prison, an account of her two months in confinement on orders of Anwar Sadat in 1981.

When reading Nawal, I was reminded of Pierre Hadot’s description of the philosophical school of the Cynics:  “They did not fear the powerful, and always expressed themselves with provocative freedom of speech [parrhesia].”  Among the eight of us who met to discuss Nawal’s book, we were each impressed by her strong, brave, defiant spirit. Read the rest of this entry »

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You Have To Be Ready For Ridicule by Ed Sanders

Leonardo packing up the Mona Lisa in 1516 to live near the King of France
You have to be ready for ridicule
The plane plops on the beach in 1903 after just a minute
You have to be ready for ridicule
You silkscreen Marilyn Monroe all in gold in the fall of ’62
You have to be ready for ridicule
You get an idea that the continents are all adrift on thick plates of the earth
You have to be ready for ridicule
You saw a saucer on the high sands of time
You have to be ready for ridicule
You don’t think a mall should be built on a meadow
You have to be ready for ridicule
You’d like a nation-wide, affordable non-profit health care system
You have to be ready for ridicule

Start with a Postcard

Seriously, send me some of yr random ricochet words
Old school style via USPS
Your wild mind that existed eons before TFA
Your dream mind that will be glowing long after the NSA

For Amal and Amal

The enemy is all about erasure
Tactics: derision and denial
Insults and salt in the wounds
When you’re a student of history
It’s no surprise—
That’s what the powerful do
So tell them over and over and over
The stories you have lived
Heard, witnessed, nightmared
Catch your breath
Shore up your sanity
And tell them again
They are a compass for the young
A splash of cold water in the face of amnesiacs
A pinprick to the comfortably settled
Hope is telling one story after another

On Sunday afternoons
You come to our meetings
Your exuberance fills the room
Of sometimes weary adults
Who need to laugh or smile
(It may have been a few days since that last laugh
We justify ourselves saying, “Look at the news”)
But you’re the good news
A reincarnation of that great anarchist revolutionary
By the flash of your eyes you declare:
“If we can’t have fun doing a flash mob
I don’t want to be part of your BDS movement”
From your elders you’ve absorbed some of your history
Keep that alive with your joie de vivre
Hope is offering one smile after another

— Amal Tamari assisted Amal Salem at her presentation this past Sunday at the U City Library on “The State of Mental Health in Occupied Palestine.”

Sink or Savor (After the Haitian Poetry Discussion)

This week I’ve had these eerie premonitions
(I really need to say my mantram a few thousand times to Sri Anandamayi Ma)
“Eerie” because of my selfishness
Premonitions that you will be going to San Francisco for the next four+ years of your life and it’s only 2057 miles from here
“Eerie” & disorienting & gotta catch my breath
(“Is there a doctor in the house?”)
Because soon there’ll be no opportunity for
Walking with you in the Central West End
Eating at bistros
Revealing and reveling about reading & writing
And simply seeing your face
And something inside me sinks …

But there you were tonight
Didi to all these academic, pre-med youngsters
You, so serene, so wise, so cool
To come to an event that probably most 4th years would find inconceivable
But why shouldn’t you come
Since you too are a poet
(With a blog to prove it to the entire world wide web) Read the rest of this entry »