Hold It All

Tag: Fatima Rhodes

Another Class Is Finished

Appreciation is the sacrament.
—Allen Ginsberg

Another class is finished…the autumn one entitled
“Facing the Future: Resources for a Rebirth of Wonder”

“Rebirth of wonder” comes from lines in a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem—
“I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder”

I’m not “awaiting” …I’ve experienced rebirth over and over
From the gathering of friends on and beyond Wise Avenue…

Dianne Lee’s commitment to “Whenever we see or think your name, you exist”
Provokes a more ardent anamnesis

Bill Quick’s ever genial receptivity
Models how to be in a learning environment

Chris Wallach’s intimate connection to Dipa Ma
Shows the way for “concentration, lovingkindness and peace”

Sarah Burkemper’s Nerudean ode to the first cucumber of the summer season
Awakens my amazement at the ordinary Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Celine Dammond–Lost World of an Egyptian Jew: Reflecting on My Grandma’s Life

Liliane Dammond came to the United States in 1950, 25 years old, recently married and pregnant with my father. Learning English at 14 and studying in England, she was privileged to have no language barrier and access to education. Her focus on family and work dictated her life until retirement, when she decided to share stories of life in 20th century Egypt for Jews. In 1956-57, foreigners (both Jews and Europeans) were expelled from the country. Approximately 30 interviews with Egyptian Jews were transcribed for my grandma’s book, The Lost World of Egyptian Jews. I will share about her life as an Egyptian Jew in the United States, using both personal memories, stories as well as her own writing.

The book was self-published and is available for purchase on Amazon if you’re interested in the topic and stories.

About me: My name is Celine Dammond and I am the daughter of an Egyptian Jewish father and a Danish/British Mormon mother. Neither of my parents practice their religion anymore, however their families were people from separate times in history whose stories echo with a resounding, important similarity: freedom of religion.

Join us
Sunday 19 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Celine begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Fatima Rhodes
4406 A Laclede
Central West End 63108

Nonna (as I called her) & I, 1992

My America, Our America by Fatima Rhodes

I am happy to share another reflection from Fatima Rhodes:

I love working with the newcomer children. Three months ago, the majority of them didn’t know a word of English at the beginning of the school year.  The other day, a six year old Syrian boy in the cafeteria line said something to me I couldn’t hear. When I leaned over, he smiled shyly and whispered in my ear, “I love you, Miss Fatima.”  In English. So in addition to teaching them English, we also teach them love and tolerance on daily basis. Read the rest of this entry »

A Declaration by Fatima

My friend Fatima Rhodes shared this with me, and I am happy to share it here.


America, I have been talking to you a lot lately. This one is for you.

I will register

I will register as a mother of two
And a mother-in-law of one

I will register as a woman
As as sister to many
As a beloved daughter

I will register as a French teacher
Who believes that first you treat students
Like people then you can teach them
Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Kanafani

Fatima Rhodes sent me this message:  “Have you seen this, Remembering Ghassan Kanafani, or How a Nation was Born of Storytelling by Elias Khoury ? It was published around the time we read Men in the Sun together. Full of gratitude for having read and discussed the book that summer in your reading group.”

Last Session of Spring Writing Class

Katrina Becker, Carol Becherer Wright, Ron Laney, Fatima Rhodes, Chelsea Eva Jaeger,  Susan Anning Clark, and April Ulinski–thanks for your creative camaraderie today at Cafe Ventana! Another wonderful class comes to an end. So I remember Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Long Live Impermanence!”

February First Share the Wealth with Natalie Yule: A Life in Construction

When I say the word “Construction,” what is the first thing that pops into your mind? For some folks this word may invoke thoughts of being stuck in traffic on the highway, then being late to work or a meeting…due to the annoyance of too often unanticipated, darn “Construction.” What a hassle! Then for others the word “Construction” may invoke a caricatured mental image of that stereotypical “blue collar” worker who definitely curses like a sailor.  Do these thoughts ring true for any of you? If not, I’m certain that there may be others of you who hear the word “Construction,” and, in contrast, it invokes nostalgia. Maybe you have a father or friend who worked diligently in a trade and maybe you admired them for it.

For me, however, “Construction” represents creativity, art, perseverance, excellence, solving problems, the challenging of gender and racial stereotypes, reward, and, more significantly, an incredible opportunity to connect with others from all walks of life (from fellow carpenters to customers). As a female, 1% minority member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, I have quite simply fallen in love with building. Becoming a full-time, professional carpenter was not my original life plan, but it is my niche, and I have zero regrets. I feel blessed by this request to share my stories with you. My occupation, the opportunities that have come with it, and the interactions I’ve been so fortunate to have with others have literally been a gift to me nearly every day I lace up my work boots. I hope that through sharing my journey and experiences, and answering any of your questions, I am somehow able to give back a small portion of that gift.

Join us
Sunday 1 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Natalie begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Fatima Rhodes
4406 A Laclede
Central West End

Natalie Yule
Ballpark Village

Poems Overheard Last Night


Who needs Rumi?
We’ve got Fatima!

She’s the ultimate poem.


If Rumi had met Fatima
He would have forgotten Shams–

Just like that!


Dear Fatima,

You’re one of the most enthusiastic, ardent devotees of reading I know.  So I’d like to introduce you to a person who is an amazing reader and recommend his short book to you and hope one day we might discuss it at a nearby cafe.  It’s called, Muhammad, by translator and essayist Eliot Weinberger  (he is highly regarded as the translator of Mexican poet Octavio Paz and has also worked on translations from Chinese). It’s a dazzling, mind-blowing, breathtaking portrait.

In his “Afterword,” Weinberger writes, “During the first Gulf War, I began to read the poetry and history written during the Abbasid caliphate, from the period a thousand years ago, when Baghdad was the most civilized city in the Western world. With the invasion of Iraq, my antidote to the daily newspaper was books in Islamic philosophy and traditional sources on the life of Muhammad.”   It’s eerie to realize that was 11+ years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Fifteen Iraqi Poets

So we need poets to challenge received notions, tell us what we don’t know, ask the questions we can’t answer, and wake us up to both doom and Utopia.

— Translator and essayist Eliot Weinberger


Over the decades, the United States has caused extreme damage in Vietnam, Nicaragua, and Iraq. In each of these nations, the populace esteems poetry in a way that U.S. citizens  could scarcely imagine.  While in a Chinese prison, Ho Chi Minh wrote poetry, while Minister of Culture Ernesto Cardenal and his associate Daisy Zamora sponsored poetry workshops all over the country after the revolutionary triumph.

Dunya Mikhail, author of The War Works Hard, has edited a short and powerful collection of poems, Fifteen Iraqi Poets, published by New Directions, famous for its promotion of international modernism.  The collection proceeds chronologically from Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (born in 1926) to Siham Jabbar (born in 1963). Mikhail acknowledged, “It was a nearly impossible task trying to pick only fifteen grains of sand from a shimmering desert.” Read the rest of this entry »