Thursday, September 26, 2013

Poem of the Week: Shadab Zeest Hashmi


Ghazal for the Ninth Month
Your august birth, my taking oath as an American, were only weeks apart.
The most I can remember is your rocking to a dull ache before we were apart.

Our hill was plush, the whole place soaked up the scent of raisin pulao. On
the last day of July the umbilical cord was cut, yet still we were barely apart.

I had sworn to bear arms for this country. A cat prowled between the young
apple tree and dry lobelia; camouflaged, I couldn’t tell her parts apart.

I acted mother first when I frantically covered you, half-dreaming you were
the tender bird of prey and a feline form was the country of which I was a part.

Bear arms? Kill like a predator? In other dreams I bore you through the cold months,
through snow in Julian, rain in Sedona. Not for a single minute were we apart.

-Shadab Zeest Hashmi
Used by permission
From Kohl & Chalk (Poetic Matrix Press, 2013)
Shadab Zeest Hashmi is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the San Diego Book Award for poetry for Baker of Tarfia—a book based on the history of interfaith tolerance in Al Andalus (Muslim Spain). Her work has been included in the Seeds of Peace concert with the award-winning Al Andalus Ensemble, in the film Cruzando Lineas: Crossing Lines, and has been translated into Urdu by Pakistan Academy of Arts and Letters. She has presented her series of poems and photographs titled "Across the Windowsill" at San Diego Museum of Art. She has served as an editor for the annual Magee Park Anthology and the online journal MahMag World Literature and has taught as a visiting professor in the MFA program at San Diego State University. She has published her poetry and prose in numerous journals worldwide and represents Pakistan on UniVerse: A United Nations of Poetry.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

love your family: cook them tasty food


The doughnut man has stopped coming to the farmers' market! No more whole wheat apple cider doughnuts greeting me on Wed. mornings. I would get one each time and save it for my writing time, snacking as I tried to get myself in the right frame of mind.

So, no doughnuts. Something had to be done. Check out this wonderful, healthy recipe from BakedByRachel. Mine aren't nearly as pretty as hers, because they were baked on a cookie sheet, though I was pretty proud of myself for putting the batter in a ziplock bag and snipping off the corner in order to squeeze the dough into the right form. Anyway, recommended for sparking your creativity, or simply making you happy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Agenting 101

For all you writers who are seeking agents or wading through the emotional muck of contracts, here are two fabulous resources for you!

1) lists every agent it can find and marks whether they have negotiated certified sales. If you're worried someone might be a fraud, check here.

2) Agent Kristin lists everything you might want to know about negotiating a contract here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Write-from-home mom meets toddler

How do you manage to finish your novel and market your teaching book and write articles and make radio and plan your next class and mother your beloved toddler? Um, yeah. Keep a long view. I can never accomplish as much as I wish. That said, even if I had absolutely nothing else going on, I'd still feel the same way. Being a write-from-home mom is actually a more workable balance than I initially expected. Then again, it depends on the day. Here's today:

When it doesn't works so well: 
I'm just starting to wrap my head around editing a radio story when child wakes up crying from her nap. She has only slept for half an hour, the first part of which was spent making coffee and grabbing some lunch. Will she go back to sleep? No. Good-bye, radio story.

When it does work well: 
While putting her to bed that night, which takes particularly long, I re-write the story in my head. Hello, radio story.

Instead of feeling stuck or, let's face it, just plain working, I got to spend the morning at the children's museum and the afternoon playing outside. Really, life is good.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

From God to Verse

Here's a book I've just ordered from amazon. I went to college with Seth, and we knew him as being incredible with verse, quick on his feet, and very funny. In the past decade since college, he's written a line-by-line translation of the Torah--yes, all five books--into rhymed verse. And it's taken seriously, too: this is no parody, just a different form of the same good thing. I can't wait for my copy to come. Seth also writes a humor column for the North Adams Transcript called The Pun Also Rises.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Diary of a Bad Year: a War Correspondent's Dilemma

Sometimes a radio program comes along that so perfectly combines my passions of writing and social justice, I sit back in gratitude. Then I post it here:

Diary of a Bad Year: a War Correspondent's Dilemma
photo of Kelly McEvers

Friday, September 6, 2013

David Pace's Burkina Faso photographs

These photographs are incredible--that shade of red ground that I remember from my own time in West Africa, the portraits, the stories he tells. Check out David Pace's Burkina Faso photos. Here are but a few, sampled below, as taken from Claire O'Neill's NPR story, "The Beauty of Bricks in Burkina Faso." Please follow the above link for more, and if you're in the San Francisco or NYC area in the next two weeks, go see them in person.

Portraits in Burkina Faso market places

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Writing Prompt

Okay folks: here's a writing prompt for you. Tell the story invoked by this real-life sign: