Hold It All

Month: July, 2012

Arab Writers in Translation Reading Group for August

On Wednesday 22 August, we will discuss Iraqi novelist Mahmoud Saeed’s short 2004 work, Saddam City.* We meet on the 4th Wednesday of the even-numbered months at the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, 1077 South Newstead Avenue in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood (63110).

We gather for a potluck dinner at 6:00. Fatima Rhodes will facilitate our discussion of the book beginning at 6:45.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the novel from the web-site Kutab: Reading into Arabic Literature:

One morning Mustafa Ali Noman, a teacher in Baghdad, was arrested as he reached the school gates. For the next fifteen months he was brutally interrogated, moved from prison to prison and barred from contacting his family; as he witnessed countless scenes of torture. It became clear to Mustafa along his journey through the desert gulags that the question of guilt or innocence was irrelevant. How do I know that I am not dreaming this? he asks himself, as, under intolerable pressure, his grasp of reality begins to weaken.

Here’s a passage from the novel that reminds me of Nawal El Saadawi’s Memoirs from the Women’s Prison:

Yet despite the exhaustion, restraints, and reduction of my humanity to the banality of a mere number, I found myself in a space suffused with human warmth. These men might have violated the laws of society or they might have been criminals from the point of view of the state, but I believed in their innocence partly because I knew my own and partly because they received me with open arms; I felt I was one of them. This conferred upon me the privilege of asking a favor.

Go here for more information on the author and novel.

Saddam City

*The literal translation of the title from Arabic is “I Am the One Who Saw.”

Introduction to Poets: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

In late August, we will resume our monthly Introduction to Poets gathering.

I will be happy to share on the life and work of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whom I would occasionally see on the streets of North Beach, San Francisco in the days when I studied in Berkeley.

For those friends who are reading my manuscript, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine, I should say Ferlinghetti has been a strong influence on me. He’s a national treasure!

Here’s a small taste, one of his poems from the last decade.

(After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except to praise conquerers
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away

My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!

Banned Books Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlighetti, outside his City Lights Bookstore in North Beach, San Franscico.

Send Me (J’aurais toujours faim de votre écriture)

Bella Levenshteyn

Send me your grocery list.
Send me your nerdiness über alles summer reading list.
Send me a 100-line poem with old-school rhyme scheme.
Send me your uncensored 30th  (but who’s counting?) birthday wish.
Send me your five favorite Arabic slang expressions, with transliteration, por favor.
Send me your strategy for when you can play the role of Sally Bowles in off-off-off-off Broadway.
Send me your ode to your new home.
Send me  8 1/2  déjà vu moments you had reading the first 60 pages of that manuscript.
Send me seventeen sibilant syllables.

Perry Schimmel


An Evening with Elizabeth Driscoll

Join us for a potluck dinner and discussion with Elizabeth Driscoll, SLU alum, Karen House Catholic Worker, Intercambio animator and Master’s student in Contemplative Psychotherapy at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

Elizabeth will share reflections on her experiences at this Buddhist university and how spirituality, therapy and social work may be brought into fruitful conversation and practice.

Jim and J’Ann Allen are kind enough to host us at their home at 4519 Oakland Avenue, Forest Park Southeast (63110) on Wednesday 8 August.

Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m. and Elizabeth begins sharing at 6:45.

Bring a friend you think may be interested in this discussion.

Liz Driscoll

Chicago Gratitudes/1346

Mary Shannon, Annie Kratzmeyer, Bridget Bee Garrity, Carolina Mussa-Ivaldi,& Melissa Banerjee …Namaste forever!

Gratitude of the Day

La dolce vita with Amy Nuismer at Gelateria.

July 19

“By Final Judgment of the world you should understand
The destruction of injustice on earth
And the reign of the Spirit of Light and Truth, that’s to say Love.”

– Augusto Cesar Sandino
(via Ernesto Cardenal, Cosmic Canticle)

sandino vive

Oda a las gracias by Pablo Neruda

Gracias a la palabra
que agradece,
gracias a gracias
cuanto esta palabra
derrite nieve o hierro. Read the rest of this entry »


Someone asked Sister Dang Nghiem:
“What is most important to you?”

She answered:
“My awareness.”

Sister Dang Nghiem, Healing: A Woman’s Journey from Doctor to Nun