NY Times By the Book Tag

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 27 – Book Spine Poetry

Day 27Book Spine Poetry     img_2563

Blacks – Gwendolyn Brooks

Some Sing, Some Cry – Ntosake Shange & Ifa Bayeza

Life  in Motion – Misty Copeland

Crossing the Mangrove – Maryse Condé

The Chosen Place, The Timeless People – Paule Marshall

 

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 21 Favorite Poetry Collection

Day 21 – Favorite Poetry Collection  Hands down has to be Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks.  I’ve gotten almost three quarters through the collection this month and I’m in awe by the sheer brilliance of all of these poems – depth, syncopation, lyrical, cultural, meaningful, black….  This is a collection you must own and read.  I’m sure I’ll be rereading Blacks over and over for a very long time.

“Here is a necessary collection of poetry for admirers of words and treasurers of literary img_2532beauty. Spanning more than 30 years, this collection of literary masterpieces by the venerable Ms. Gwendolyn Brooks, arguably Illinois’ most beloved Poet Laureate and Chicago’s elder black literary stateswoman, Blacks includes all of Ms. Brooks’ critically acclaimed writings. Within its covers is the groundbreaking “Annie Allen,” which earned her the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. There is also the sweepingly beautiful and finely crafted “A Street in Bronzeville,” a highly anticipated and lauded poetic treasure that spoke volumes for this great poet’s love of black people, Chicago’s Black community, and even the community of the world. Blacks includes a special treat, Maud Martha, Brooks’ only novel.” (Blacks, Goodreads description)

The Bean Eaters  – (Blacks, page 330)
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 – 2000

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

My copy: Blacks, paperback 512 pages

 

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying.
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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 23

Day 23 – Favorite Poem:

Lighthead’s Guide to the Galaxy

And if you are addicted to sleep, a bay of fresh coffee may help.IMG_1467
If you are addicted to coffee, teach yourself to breakdance.
If you are addicted to dancing, polio will cure you.
If you hear that the last black man alive will be burned at sunset
find an underground railroad.
If you are addicted to railroads: try wearing undersized shoes.
No one knows where your mother has gone with her tax refund.
If you are addicted to shoes, move to a provincial village in Japan.
If you are addicted to Japan, try eating with no teeth.
If you are addicted to teeth, visit the wife beater’s widow
She will be upstairs awaiting your caress.
I often wake up horny. If you are addicted to masturbation, seek company.
If you are addicted to company, try starlight and silence.
If you are addicted to silence, find guard dogs, traffic or infants.
If you are addicted to infants, try reliable contraception.

Or try asking yourself, What’s wrong with me?

If you are addicted to contraception, try recklessness.

Try riding an unsaddled horse until you are thrown into a bed of gravel.

If you’re attracted to recklessness, try a spoonfed disease.

My mother loves imagining the day she’ll die.
If you are addicted to disease, visit an old world doctor.
If you are addicted to doctors, try war.

If you are addicted to sorrow, all my talk about loss is not lost to you.
No one knows why your father built the shed for his weapons.

Probably with some hellified form of addiction.

If you are addicted to weapons, please find the people who plan to burn

the last black man alive at sunset for me.

Or try learning a little history.

Obviously, I’m addicted to repetition. Which is a form of history.
If you are addicted to history, try a blindfold of razors or buy a Cadillac.
If you are addicted to Cadillacs, try poverty.

No one is addicted to poverty but if you are, try wealth.
If you are addicted to wealth, you’ll need money.
If you are addicted to money, you’ll need money. Try that.

 

#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 21

Day 21 – Would Give as a Gift:

I would definitely give The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou as a gift.  This collection nourishes and comforts the soul.  The late great Dr. Maya Angelou was a woman wise beyond her years. IMG_1465 She is so terribly missed.  Most of her life was spent supporting and teaching humanity the hard lessons of living life to the fullest and well.  You won’t be able to resist picking this book up all throughout your life for inspiration and encouragement.  I love and refer back to it regularly.  It fills me with so much emotion.  This hardcover edition is the perfect gift because it’s beautifully published with its colorful dust jacket.

 

 

Maya Angelou a Phenomenal Woman

I was reading when a notification popped up on my iPad.  It read “Maya Angelou dead at 86”.  I dropped everything in search of the article.  I just couldn’t believe it.  I still can’t believe it.  Maya Angelou will be greatly missed.  I heard someone say “My black feminist heart is weeping.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Maya Angelou was a jack of all trades, but most of all inspiration for everyone.  Her quotes give advice on love, liberation, freedom, women, men, education, and on many other dilemmas of life.  She will live on through these quotes, her poems, and novels.  I can say I was one of the lucky ones to have had the pleasure to see and hear this intelligent, wise beyond centuries woman speak in person.  I remember how captivated the audience was when she spoke.  The air was light and our spirits were lifted.  The silence in the room was devoted to that special moment of sharing her poetry, her expression.  I’ll never forget it.  As a tribute to Maya Angelou writer, poet, educator, actor, director, producer,  historian, activist, playwright, and….

PHENOMENAL WOMAN

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size       Maya-Angelou
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou

The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks

I bought this tiny book of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems about a year and a half ago. I picked it up and read two orIMG_0114 three poems and put it down.  Why?  I have no unearthly idea!   Insanity! What was I thinking?!  So when I was rummaging through the books on my shelves looking for something different to read for Black History month, I fell immediately on The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks and a eureka came out on contact.

I read the entire book of poems in about three hours.  I surely could have read it faster but I really wanted to soak up the rich language and ideas conveyed in them.  I remember having heard Maya Angelou recite We Real Cool when I was a teenager.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of studying Brooks’ poems in high school or at university.  While reading I wondered why that could have been.  How could such lyrical, moving, opulent, and culturally informative poetry be in essence left to the side?

Brooks’ poems speak about racism and African-American life.  She mainly wrote about what surrounded her.  She said,  “If you wanted a poem, you only had to look out of a window.  There was material always, walking or running, fighting or screaming or singing.” (The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, p. xvii)  Brooks wrote about 75 published poems by the time she turned sixteen years old.  So she never stopped trying to perfect her craft as a poet there after, while in turn writing poetry that reflected the times.  With tremendous passion, she was ingenious in writing her poetry in all types styles – blues, sonnets, jazz, ballads, free verse, and even enjambed like in her ever famous poem We Real Cool.

We Real Cool

The Pool Players. 
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon. 

Gwendolyn Brooks
What a wonderful way to celebrate Women Writers month by sneaking a peek at poems written by the first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950.  So do you like to read poetry? If so, what are some of your favourites?  Let me know if you’ll be reading some novels or poetry written by women this month to honour women writer.
Check out this fantastic clip of Gwendolyn Brooks where she shares her thoughts on her writing, race, poetry, African-American women writers, etc.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVZ6KTLN7O8]

Still I Rise

I’m still celebrating  National Poetry Month with another one of my favorite poems by Maya Angelou.  Scroll down to the video to hear her reciting Still I Rise with her luscious, mesmerizing voice.  Enjoy and recite or publish your favorite poems this month.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqOqo50LSZ0&feature=related]

It's National Poetry Month

I had no idea but found out that April is National Poetry Month, after reading The Daily Post today.  Apparently it has gone on since 1996 and was started by the Academy of American Poets. Here are the goals for National Poetry Month, that I found on a site called poets.org

  • “Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets”
  • “Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry”
  • “Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways”
  • “Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum”
  • “Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media”
  • “Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books” (poets.org)

Here are some ways you can celebrate National Poetry month.  You could memorize a poem, host a poetry reading, start a poetry reading group, put some poetry in an unexpected place, read poetry to family and friends, put a poem in a letter, etc.  We should all be honoring poetry and American poets.  So here’s how I’m celebrating by publishing one of my favorite poems from Maya Angelou.  Enjoy!

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou