Hold It All

Month: May, 2020

Sending a Poem and Its Translation to a Friend

This is by Nicanor Parra.
Sound familiar?
As in Violeta Parra (Nicanor’s sister).

As in Gracias a la Vida.
As in her own recording of same
(YouTube hers, not Mercedes’s)
As in try and not feel indescribable shivers even if you’ve heard it 279 times {“That’s all?”} before.

Bow our heads
For these two Treasures
Sister and Brother
From Chile, South America.

Playing Ophelia Helped Lindsey Navigate Her Own Grief

My comrade and teacher Lindsey Trout Hughes was published yesterday in Catapult … incredible writing, with more to come…

Treat Yourself

Read Virginia Woolf on Montaigne.


Share the Wealth with Matthew Miller: Rumi, Sufi Path of Love, and the Politics of “Mysticism”

Matthew Miller will lead us in a wide ranging discussion about Persian Sufi poetry. He will touch on the problems with many popular translations of Rumi and explore the “Sufi path of love” by introducing us to a few new Sufi poets who have not received as much popular acclaim in the “West.” Laced throughout this discussion will be a consideration of how the “mystical” and political are intertwined in both liberatory and oppressive ways.

Matthew Miller grew up in Cincinnati, OH, spent many, many years in school in St. Louis at Washington University, and current lives in Washington, DC. His day job is as an assistant professor of Persian literature and digital humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park. In his free time he tries to be a social justice activist and urban farmer, too.

Join us
Sunday 31 May
7:00 p.m C.S.T.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL

Drs. Matt Miller, Nima Sheth; Neil Munjal; photo by Dr. Neeta Shenai

Countering Chaos

Alexander Cockburn, A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture
Verso, 2013

Daisy Cockburn: When I was a teenager my father used to suggest I read the dictionary when I had a spare minute, or if I was feeling a bit down. His own father Claud had recommended a dip into Marx if darkness descended. The point being made was a reminder not to collapse, to find meaning, counter chaos with spirited punches—get to the root of things and then improvise, blow your trumpet from there. 571

These words by Alex Cockburn’s daughter are at the end of the magnificent volume of his writings from 1995 to 2012. Rereading him in the time of descending darkness during COVID-19, I return to the following passages to find meaning and counter chaos for purposes of necessary improvising….

Boyd had that rare talent: relentless intellectual focus on the task at hand. To hear him dissect tactics employed at the battle of Leuctra, when the Thebans beat the Spartans in 371 BC, was as overwhelming as to hear him discuss the relevance of Gödel, Heisenberg and the Second Law of thermodynamics to human behavior. Beyond all that, Boyd was an honest, modest, populist who never lost his humanity amid a life devoted to the consideration of war. 80

Like Greece, the strength of the Occupy Wall Street movement lies in the simplicity and truth of its basic message: the few are rich, the many are poor. In terms of its pretensions the capitalist system has failed. Nearly six million manufacturing jobs in the United States have disappeared since 2000, and more than 40,000 factories have closed. African-Americans have endured what has been described as the greatest loss of collective assets in their history. Hispanics have seen their net worth drop by two-thirds. Millions of whites have been pitchforked into penury and desperation. 515 Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Sari Althubyani: Ramadan Kareem

Sari will share with us his various experiences of Ramadan, from his homeland in Saudi Arabia to United States in these last few years. Bring your questions or share your own experience of this time of spiritual strengthening, Qur’an reading, and communal solidarity.

Sari will be a senior at Maryville University this fall; among his passions are automobiles and deep sea diving.

Join us
Sunday 24 May
7:00 p.m C.S.T.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL


Active Participants in a Democratic Society or Effective Corporate Employees?

Alfie Kohn, What Does It Mean to be Well Educated?
And More Essays on Standards, Grading, and Other Follies

You only learn things and learn how to think if there’s some purpose for learning, some motivation that’s coming out of you somehow. In fact, all the methodology in education isn’t really much more than that—getting the students to want to learn. Once they want to learn, they’ll do it.

The point is, it doesn’t matter what you read, what matters is how you read.… You only learn if the material is integrated into your own creative processes somehow, otherwise it just passes through your mind and disappears. And there’s nothing valuable about that –it basically has the effect of learning the catechism, or memorizing the Constitution or something like that.
—Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power


After finishing my 23rd year of teaching, I do breathing gathas and slowly reconnect in the days ahead with the clarity of Alfie Kohn…


Nel Noddings: “the main aim of education should be to produce competent, caring, loving, and lovable people.” 2

The best sort of schooling is organized around problems, projects, and questions—as opposed to facts, skills, and disciplines. Knowledge is acquired, of course, but in a context and for a purpose. The emphasis is not only on depth rather than breadth, but also on discovering ideas rather than on covering of prescribed curriculum. Teachers are generalists first and specialists (in a given subject matter) second; they commonly collaborate to offer interdisciplinary courses that students play an active role in designing. All of this happens in small, democratic schools that are experienced as caring communities.

Critique of Education: Aims: quantifiable results, standardized procedures to improve performance, on order and discipline and obedience to authority. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Jack McAtee: In But Not of The World

During this discussion we will try to make sense of these wild, strange, sad, wonderful, and terrifying times that we currently have the opportunity to live through. I’ll take a critical view on the current state of our democracy and other social institutions that are making life or death decisions on a daily basis. I plan to draw on my own personal experiences from working in and wrestling with Corporate America. I also plan to share how certain spiritual leaders (Thomas Merton, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henry David Thoreau) have helped me along this journey. Then I’ll attempt to share how I try to gently balance those two themes together (suggestions greatly appreciated!).

Jack is a life-long resident of St. Louis. He grew up in a very loving family that he owes the world to. He somehow tricked Saint Louis University into giving him degrees in Economics and Finance. In the roughly four years since graduation, his day-to-day gig has involved working as a bond trader for a local financial services firm. Jack’s next big adventure is to attempt to solo kayak the lower Mississippi River (STL -> New Orleans) in May 2021.

Join us
Sunday 17 May
7:00 p.m C.S.T.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL

A Gift from Rob in Minnesota

Today I received a book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, from Rob Trousdale, who’s a part of the Catholic Worker community in Minnesota. (Some of Rob’s poems grace this blog.) This generous act was prompted by Rob’s reading of Chip Gibbobn’s Intercept article on the FBI’s investigation of ISM activists like myself a long while back.


Putting Marginalia to Use

for Danielle Mackey

Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces
31 Saturday October 2009

I reread this book for one reason:  To see if it could help me generate some ideas as to form and content for my third book, which still will deal with Palestine.

So, all I scribble below is from marginalia—ideas, chapter or unit titles, possibilities—I  have made as I read these short, lyrical, lightly dense meditations that still make me think: Ah, this is my form, too!

Today as I finished the book in Borders waiting for Sharifa and Dania, it occurred to me: 10 themes each with 10 chapters, fractured and sequenced, with the ten chapters on Hedy being the “spine” of the work: a link between Shoah and Nakba. This is reflected below in the end of these notes.

It really will be a meditation on history.

Lexicon entries
The Occupation
What Prison can do to a Man [Hitler story]

Ghadeer, 400 words [tell me your story]
Different fonts of Arabic words…. Calligraphy
Reading Chomsky/1/2

Take a quotation and revise it to tell my story
Transformations/1 [Halper]

People I Know: The Actor
People I Know: The Survivor
People I Know: The Professor Read the rest of this entry »