Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nighttime Page, 17 Jan. 09

Just finished watching "The Green Mile." I'm not sure what to say about it, except that it was excellent.  It's the kind of movie I'm a sucker for.  It's got miracles, suspense, deep connections, and yet another twist to the play between good and evil.  Amazing.  I would own this movie.

Another amazing thing--evil backwards is live.  Evil is also vile.  Scrambled, it's veil, or the name Levi.  Am I missing anything?

I was supposed to go to a party tonight.  But, with DH and DS gone on a boy scout winter camping trip, and the twinge of a stomach bug, I decided to stay home with DD.  And this is how I came to see the movie.  DD and I were in the video store, and she picked it out.  It was one she'd seen scenes from at youth group.  Before I put it in the player, I was on the phone with DA, telling her we were about to watch it, and she told me it was depressing.  Having just seen it, I can't exactly call it that.  More thought-provoking.  

Okay, I'm not getting very far here.  It's late, as usual.  I might try for some real Morning Pages tomorrow, even though it's "no computer day" in our household.  When the guys are away...  It'll also be a day to go into the big city, do a little mousing around, and maybe go purse-shopping.  

A poem by Obama, as it first appeared in Occidental Weekly:


Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken
In, sprinkled with ashes
Pop switches channels, takes another
Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks
What to do with me, a green young man
Who fails to consider the 
Flim and flam of the world, since
Things have been easy for me; 
I stare hard at his face, a stare
That deflects off his brow; 
I’m sure he’s unaware of his
Dark, watery eyes, that
Glance in different directions,
And his slow, unwelcome twitches,
Fail to pass.
I listen, nod,
Listen, open, till I cling to his pale, 
Beige T-shirt, yelling,
Yelling in his ears, that hang
With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling
His joke, so I ask why
He’s so unhappy, to which he replies...
But I don’t care anymore, cause
He took too damn long, and from
Under my seat, I pull out the 
Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing, 
Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face
To mine, as he grows small,
A spot in my brain, something
That may be squeezed out, like a 
Watermelon seed between
Two fingers.
Pop takes another shot, neat,
Points out the same amber
Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and
Makes me smell his smell, coming
From me; he switches channels, recites an old poem
He wrote before his mother died,
Stands, shouts, and asks
For a hug, as I shrink, my 
Arms barely reaching around
His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ’cause
I see my face, framed within
Pop’s black-framed glasses
And know he’s laughing too.

This next bit comes from the BBC News:

Poem sent for Obama inauguration

Wales' national poet Gillian Clarke has written a poem marking Barack Obama's inauguration as US president.

Clarke said she was "delighted" to have been commissioned to pen the poem for the historic occasion.

Obama will become the first African American to hold the post when he is installed as the 44th president.

Clarke, whose work is studied for GCSE and A level exams, said she had been inspired by the reaction of pupils in Birmingham, England, to the election.

The poet originally from Cardiff but now living in Ceredigion explained: "A few days after his election I was performing in front of 2,000 schoolchildren in Birmingham.

"Academi's message that they wanted me to write a poem for Obama came through and I was introduced by the chief examiner as the National Poet of Wales who will write a poem for Obama.

NEW YEAR, 2009

Venus in the arc of the young moon

is a boat the arms of a bay,

the sky clear to infinity

but for the trailing gossamer

of a transatlantic plane.

The old year and the old era dead,

pushed burning out to sea

bearing the bones of heroes, tyrants,

ideologues, thieves and deceivers

in a smoke of burning money.

The dream is over. Glaciers will melt.

Seas will rise to swallow golden islands.

Somewhere a volcano may whelm a city,

earth shake its skin like an old horse,

a hurricane topple a town to rubble.

Yet tonight, under the cold beauty

of the moon and Venus, something like hope begins,

as if times can turn, the world change course,

as if truth can speak, good men come to power,

and words have meaning again.

Maybe black-hearted boys in love with death

won't blow themselves and us to smithereens.

Maybe guns will fall silent, the powerful

cease slaughtering the weak, the rich

will not gorge as the poor starve.

Hope spoke the word 'Yes', the word 'we', the word 'can',

and a thousand British teenagers at Poetry Live

rose to their feet in a single yell of joy -

black, white, Christian, Muslim, Jew,

faithful and faithless. We are all in this together.

Ie. gallwn ni. (Yes, we can)

"Immediately all the children stood up cheering and hugging each other and I was astounded.

"If 15-year-old kids get excited about Barack Obama winning the election, then it gives me this great feeling of hope, a hope that we can all share in.

"It is not just that we believe he's a good man or an eloquent man, but that we somehow need him to be a man who appreciates language and truth, and will make all the lies of the last eight years disappear.

"We're on his side and we'll try to make it work.

"We're all black now. And it's taught us all - from schoolchildren in Birmingham to poets in Wales - that if you're black, you can do it; if you're a woman, you can do it; if you're young, you can do it. And if you're Welsh, we can do it."

Academi, which promotes literature in Wales, has sent the poem to president-elect Obama along with another in Welsh from the Welsh-language Children's Laureate Ifor ap Glyn.

Clarke is the third National Poet of Wales, a role established in 2005 by Academi with Arts Council of Wales Lottery funding.

Gwyneth Lewis was the first incumbent, followed by Professor Gwyn Thomas.

Clarke's work is studied in schools across the UK .

From November 2008 to February 2009 she will have performed her work in front of over 100,000 schoolchildren as part of the Poetry Live! events.

In February she will read and discuss her work with 900 English students in Dubai.

And finally, an article about Elizabeth Alexander, who will read her poetry at the inauguration:

Elizabeth Alexander, Obama Inauguration Poet, "Completely Thrilled"

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Elizabeth Alexander was a toddler in a baby stroller when her parents took her to hear Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington.

Now, it's Alexander's turn to move the nation.

Alexander, professor of African-American studies at Yale University, was chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to compose and read a poem for his inauguration on Jan. 20.

"I'm completely thrilled and deeply, deeply honored," Alexander said Thursday.

Alexander's mother is a historian specializing in African-American women's history at George Washington University. Her father was a presidential civil rights adviser and secretary of the Army.

"The civil rights movement was fully alive in our home," Alexander said.

Attending King's 1963 speech was an iconic moment for the family.

"That story was always a part of family stories that were told as a way of thinking about the importance of being civic, the importance of looking forward, the importance of having visionary leaders, the importance of involving yourself with the community, the importance of recognizing the historical moment and historical possibilities," Alexander said.

Alexander said her parents are thrilled at her selection.

"This is an incomparable thrill to them in the way that Obama's presidency is an especially potent and powerful thing for African-Americans in their 70s who have devoted their lives to progress," Alexander said. "To be a part of it, I almost can't imagine it myself."

Alexander, who is 46 and married with two children, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 for her collection "American Sublime." Her other books include "The Venus Hottentot," "Body of Life" and "Antebellum Dream Book."

Last year, she won the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize.

Alexander will be only the fourth poet to read at a presidential swearing in. Robert Frost read for President John F. Kennedy, while Maya Angelou and Miller Williams read at President Clinton's inaugurations.

"I think what I hope to symbolize and demonstrate is the important role that arts and literature can play in this moment when the country is thinking so keenly about moving forward and coming together," Alexander said.

Alexander acknowledged the challenge before her. She said she does not start with a message in mind, likening the process to a radio antenna in which she listens for the right language.

"You're always trying to catch a rhythm," she said. "It's something I will be chipping away at every day."

Alexander is friends with Obama from her days when they were on the faculty at the University of Chicago in the 1990s.

"That friendship makes this opportunity all the more special," she said.

Tree Swenson, executive director of the Academy of American Poets, welcomed her selection.

"Elizabeth Alexander is a superb choice for the Obama inauguration: She is from Washington, she represents Obama's generation, and she has written about the civil rights conflict and other historical events that have shaped the character of this country," Swenson said. "At the same time, her intense personal vision reveals the commonplace life illuminated from startling new angles _ as good poetry always does."

Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins said Alexander faces a tall order.

"I don't envy her," Collins wrote in an e-mail. "Such poems are nearly impossible to bring off. Because of the heaviness of the subject the risk is that you will end up under it rather than on top. I wish her well and I'm certainly glad Obama is making room for a poet."


Associated Press writer Nancy Benac in Washington contributed to this story.

And with that, I'm off to bed!

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