Collaboration with poets JK Anowe and Laura M Kaminski

scavenger l from flickr

scavenger

I’m delighted that “Scavenger,” from the Eternal Childhood series, is part of this collaborative submission with poets JK Anowe and Laura M Kaminski at Poetry Life and Times. If you get a chance, take some time and read their poignant words.

The Power of Art as Witness: Call Me Down the Rain

Robert Rhodes, ‘Night map (1) so we can always find the way to one another.’ Acrylic, gouache and pencil on Arches paper.

Robert Rhodes, ‘Night map (1) so we can always find the way to one another.’ Acrylic, gouache and pencil on Arches paper.

The second Creative Thresholds issue in July was a very special one and perhaps one of the most important ones we’ve done. It was a series of poems dealing with attacks by Boko Haram in the city of Jos and other areas in northern Nigeria. The cycle of poems began when poet Laura M Kaminski (who grew up in northern Nigeria) posted “Call Me Down the Rain” on her Facebook page. Poet j. lewis responded with one of his own, beginning a conversation. amu nnadi contacted Laura and his poem was added to the collection. They continued the dialogue in poetry form from there. Creative Thresholds has the entire series, in two parts: “Call Me Down the Rain” and “Call Me Down the Rain, Part 2.” Artist Robert Rhodes’s paintings accompany the two posts. Please visit and experience the power of art as witness. Here’s the poem that began it all:

Call Me Down the Rain

work-song honoring those attempting to return home to territory reclaimed from Boko Haram

I must dance a circle
bring the monsoon
call me down the rain

pray like someone greedy
give me give me give
more than my share

of this year’s water
bring it bring it bring
the water, carry me the river

call me down the rain
and flood the plateau, bring
rags and buckets to me

you will find me on
my knees and scrubbing
more than red dust

more than harmattan,
I must scrub the northland
clean down to the bedrock

how can we return
to farm and village, how
can we plant new crops

in this earth from which
we’ve lifted the broken
bodies of kin and country

washed them, taken them,
them all, to mourn and bury?
how can we till land

charred from bomb-blasts,
how can we plant when
we keep finding bullet-

casings in the soil?
our lips will not permit
yam and cassava grown

in blood-soaked dirt
to cross them, our bodies
will refuse such tainted

nourishment. no. you
must carry the Benue
here, bring bring me

water, call me down
the rain so I can first
scrub the stains

of blood and bitterness,
scrub until there’s
nothing left but dancing

here, until the stain is
gone from memory,
from sole and soul —
call me down the rain

–Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)
(first published in Synchronized Chaos, forthcoming in Dance Here, 2015)

Happy Birthday to Creative Thresholds!

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A big “Happy Birthday!” to arts and literary blog Creative Thresholds, which celebrated its first year at the end of last month. The anniversary issue was fantastic–poetry, collage, painting, drawing, and photography from an international cast of contributors.

Swiss artist Verena Baumann enchants with painting, photography, and drawing. Check out Works by Verena Baumann.

bilderProlific poet Bruce Covey shares a secret in Evidence that Ke$ha is a Key Factor in America’s Growth Economy.

skull and panda by Lee Ann RoripaughAnne-Martine Parent explores the possibilities of photography, specifically iPhoneography, in The Others and I.

Processed with VSCOcam with x5 presetDaniel Boscaljon’s series Letters to You continues with who are you without what you are without.

mdjClaudio Parentela: Contemporary Art with a Freakish Taste tickles the fancy of lovers of collage.

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md1Artist and art critic Christopher Hutchinson looks at the work of encaustic artist Michael David in CT’s column Postcolonial Thoughts: Critique of Michael David’s “The One-Eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log.”

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Inspiration Here and Now

Aja's drawing, GAG poetry reading flickr large 1024

Sometimes it’s the little things.

Today I did a poetry reading for the “Read, Write and Doodle” Guerrilla Artist Group youth art sessions at Mooresville Public Library. I’d been a little apprehensive when I’d been asked to do it, wondering if I’d have anything 12-18 year olds could connect with.

At the end of the session, one of the girls, Aja, came up and handed me an illustration she’d made of one of the poems I’d read. I was completely surprised, just as I’d been when I heard two of her classmates bring themes from my poems into their own writing exercises in class.

But maybe I shouldn’t have been. One of the topics of class was the question of inspiration. Most of the time we think of the lofty or moving or powerfully emotional as being inspirational. Or maybe we see a particular person or his or her work as inspirational.

But the truth is that inspiration has an aspect slightly more mundane as well. No act of creation takes place in a vacuum. It’s always situated within a specific place and time, which is never short of opportunities for interesting ideas—if we’ll simply notice and take the invitation.

Today the students took what was at hand in class to write their stories. Aja used it to draw her picture. To swing the circle ‘round, they’ve all inspired me to write this post tonight—when I’d not planned to write today at all. Thank you, Aja. Thanks to the rest of your classmates as well.