These are the words of Esau Jenkins painted on the backside of his yellow-green 1960’s Volkswagen van. It was a van-bus that he drove around his home of Johns Island, South Carolina. He drove his van-word-bus back and forth from Johns Island to Charleston, S.C., and to other towns and cities for many years at the turn of the 20th century. Anybody coming up behind him in his rearview could read what he believed. Esau Jenkins must have been whispering out to the world, “Do you see what I see?” Read more.
I've been invited to deliver the keynote address to the South Carolina Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in Columbia this week. There was a part of me that wanted to turn the invitation down. I am not a poet who wants or needs to be in every conversation. I do believe poetry has the power to enrich every conversation, and therefore, if you invite me to the arena, then you invite poetry to the table. Read more.
He doesn't want to be president and he certainly never intended to be ahead in the polls. This is a mistake that is now keeping him up at night. Read more.
In Zimbabwe, a majestic 13-year-old endangered and beloved lion, with an unusual and recognizable black mane, named Cecil, was lured away from his safe lair in Hwange National Park. Read more.
Two days ago, on the weekend of June 19– 21, the weekend that our 150 year old cakewalk away from slavery, Juneteenth, was celebrated, on the very weekend we honored our persistent determined fathers, on the very weekend the first and longest summer day of 2015 arrived, Sunday, June 22, at 12:38 p.m. Read more.
On Wednesday night Jacqueline Woodson won the 2014 National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature. After she left the stage the host of the National Book Awards, Daniel Handler, told the crowd that she, a Black woman, "was allergic to watermelon" and then implored the crowd at the National Book Awards to "let that settle in your mind." I found myself staring at my laptop and choking on a waterfall of watermelon seeds. Read more.
When Jane walked in the room two things happened, her headlight eyes and smile stopped you in your tracks and her dressed-to-the-9’s gorgeous sense of style made you realize you were is the presence of a radiant woman. Read more.
There has been a cat walking around in my life for as long as I can remember. I can say aloud every one of their names and recall each of their different personalities. My memories of each of them are filled with images and film of me moving along in life from girl to woman. There are photographs of me in my mother’s house, as little sandy-haired girl, sitting with, or rubbing on, the back or belly of a cat, whispering something in her ear. Read more.
I just spent two days listening to Ruthie Foster, singer-songwriter. Ruthie Foster, singer-songwriter of Gause, Texas. I kept hitting the replay button over and over. I would watch and listen to one video of her standing on stage with her guitar, her head tilted back in a I-Am-A-Black-Woman-From-Texas kind of way and then reach for another video and then another. Read more.
Before I moved away from Lexington, Kentucky, my dear friend, Kate Black, wise woman of the kitchen, gardener extraordinaire, and sincerest of human souls, had the lovely habit of leaving various and amazing magazine or newspaper articles in my mailbox or folded into the screen of my front door. Read more.
It's as if they planned their great departures. It's as if one called the other one and said, "You go first and then I'll follow." Read more.
I have always been partial to handmade things. At Camp Betty Hastings in 1969, when I was twelve, my favorite part of the day was doing arts and crafts in the afternoon. How many lanyards and coin purses could a child make in one summer! Read more.
There are now officially two Poet Houses; the original Poet’s House of Kentucky and the new Poet’s House of South Carolina. I write to you from the freezing fahrenheit sub-tropics of South Carolina. I have not been able to give up the first Poet’s House just yet. I have so many emotional ties there. A poet is sometimes like an ivory-billed woodpecker who does not— can not — give up a good nest easily. Read more.
Well, I've been back in South Carolina two weeks now. I'm still covered in boxes and none of my things from Kentucky seem to fit the new house but Mom fixed Sunday dinner yesterday and being able to drive over and sit beside them and then jump up and do the dishes before leaving and driving back across town— and not across the Smoky Mountains — was such a treasure. Read more.
It's not every day that a poet lives to see her 2nd and 3rd literary children pulled off the bookshelf, after 18 and 15 years respectively — pulled off and marched off to their new dressing rooms where the very able Northwestern University Press designers have sweetly fussed over their hems (and hymns!!!) Read more.
After twenty years of living in Lexington and teaching at the University of Kentucky, I have accepted a teaching position at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Read more.
2012 was all about migration. Most of the year was spent (literally) in the air winging my words to so many poetry-loving audiences. I travelled to more places last year than I had in the last five years combined. It’s impossible to be warned about the profound and delicate alterations to your mostly quiet and routine life after winning a major literary award. Read more.
the ordinary body of lucille
"The job of the artist is not to leave you where she found you." Lucille Clifton
Professor Thelma Glass was a hero of mine. We never met but I was raised on what she believed and lived. I heard about Prof. Glass, and the other women who organized the critically important Women's Political Caucus, during the 1950's. Read more.
Nikky ventured to Tampere, Finland to take part in the Annikki Poetry Festival. When Nikky started reading, it began to rain for the first time that day, and the Poet invited the audience to the covered stage to be with her. Read more.
I am a maudlin mess whenever the year ends, far too sentimental to get anything done. But when the new year rises up and actually begins to unfold, the air feels suddenly blue, electric, as if honey has been poured on the tongue -- of everything. Read more.