The Road to Zvegona, a poem by Poet-in-Exhile Mbizo Chirasha; Update on Mbizo’s situation; Calls for Submissions to Brave Voices Poetry Journal

See a procession of young mothers chattering their way
From water fountains in grenade torn sandals
And blood laced bras
Decade of Bullets, Mbizo Chirasha



Is fading the memory of its son,
Who for words must ride the night
Fleeing ears that hear thunder on a babies purity guggle,
Zvegona, my homestead,
Ancestors are watching
Elders on a scheming mission
Trading lies with more lies
The road to Zvegona
Your Sideroads sigh
Your song is silent
Only hiccups of mothers greet the sun
Yearning for the return of the bearded child
Who lives on the strings of truth
Truth refused a seat at the council of baboons on the lagoons
Goons settling scores on the assumptions that a boy has a price,
Well, the boy true has a price
But not one you can pay with looted coins
The boy has shaved his hair not his brains
The boy has slipped his boots on and truth has raised its flag
And the spirits of truth sing his Achilles heels on,
So Zvegona, the village of the lucky poet,
Grow thistles and thorns
Feed cattle and goats
The boy has shaved his beard
Ready for a walk back, to shave the land of all pretentious shenanigans
Uprooting the weeds and weevils
Repair the kraal too,
Where roosters shall announce light unto the land,
Currently bent double under the gargantuan weight of lying tongues.
Zvegona, you are my yesterday
Zvegona, you are my tomorrow in whatever form, shape or …….

© 2019, Mbizo Chirasha

UPDATE ON MBIZO

Mbizo is still in hiding with irregular access to water, food, computer and Wifi. Nonetheless, he continues working at his mission including  NOTICE FREEDOM VOICES PRIZE  and BRAVE VOICES POETRY JOURNAL and Womawords Literary Press.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The first New Look Brave Voices Poetry Journal will be out by the 15th of December 2019. It is a Christmas gift. Our deadline for articles [and poetry] is the 10th of December 2019. We look  forward to contributions and features with a length of 1500 words. You can send these in the body of mail with photos as attachments. Please include your publishable photos and a fifteen line bio to bravevoicespoetry@gmail.com

Yours creatively ,
Mbizo Chirasha- Brave Voices Poetry Journal Curator

We’ve received letters of support to go in Mbizo’s applications for grants and safe harbor, but the Go-Fund-Me effort is still not to goal, which would provide for the immediate need for pantry staples, computer, and so forth. Without predictable computer access, Mbizo has not yet been able to do his interview with the Canadian radio show, though the offer still stands.

International Human Rights Festival, the entity that sponsored Mbizo’s Go-Fund-Me, has attracted $480 and raised the goal to $750.  They have cut him some partial funding for now.  Meanwhile, folks, I suggest that if enough of us donated the price of one morning latte, we’d make the goal.  What do you say? A whole bunch of tidbits would combine for a whole lot of success. You can make your donation anonymously HERE.

If you are able and interested in helping in any way, you can contact Mbizo directly at: girlchildcreativity@gmail.com

“We remain resilient in the quest for justice, freedom of expression and upholding of human rights through Literary Activism and Artivism. ALUTA CONTINUA.” Mbizo Chirasha

RELATED
MBIZO CHIRASHA is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Gangesand Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.

Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Welcome News of Imprisoned Swedish Publisher/Poet Gui Minhai’s Upcoming Collection “I Draw Blood on the Wall with My Finger”

Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

“We enthusiastically welcome the news of Gui Minhai’s forthcoming book of poetry, which will serve not only as a literary work but also as a reminder that Gui continues to be unjustly detained,” said James Tager, deputy director of Free Expression Research and Policy at PEN America. 



Taipei Times and PEN America announced that Gui Mihai, Swedish publisher and poet, imprisoned in China since 2015 will have a collection of his poetry – purportedly smuggled from his cell – published next year. The volume is entitled I Draw Blood on the Wall with My Finger. It’s publication will coincide with Gui’s 56th birthday.

Gui Minhai has been in detention since Chinese state security agents kidnapped him from Thailand in October 2015. Gui is a member of the Causeway Bay Bookstore Five, a group of publishers and booksellers affiliated with Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Bookstore, all disappeared by Chinese state agents in late 2015.

Causeway Bay Bookstore in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; 3 January 2016

“We enthusiastically welcome the news of Gui Minhai’s forthcoming book of poetry, which will serve not only as a literary work but also as a reminder that Gui continues to be unjustly detained,” said James Tager, deputy director of Free Expression Research and Policy at PEN America. “Gui’s continued detention – more than four years after his abduction – serves as a representation of the Chinese government’s continued blatant disregard for human rights and international law. On the occasion of this announcement, we reiterate our call that Gui be immediately and unconditionally released, and allowed to rejoin his family.”

Numerous human rights and free expression groups – including PEN America – have continually decried Gui’s illegal detention. In October 2017, the conditions of Gui’s confinement were reportedly relaxed until January 2018, when Chinese state agents forcibly stopped him from traveling with Swedish diplomats for a medical examination in Beijing. Gui has reportedly exhibited symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a degenerative neurological disease, and PEN America remains concerned for his health.

PEN America previously concluded in a November 2016 report that the Chinese government’s disappearance of the Causeway Bay Bookstore Five, as well as the conditions of their detentions – including a series of forced “confessions” from the booksellers that numerous observers have concluded were obviously scripted by state agents – constituted “a wide range of human rights abuses.”

RELATED:

Editorial Note: This feature is complied courtesy of  PEN America, Taipei Times, The Washington Post, and Radio Free Asia.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

In Support of Dissident Poets and Poetry, Responses to last Wednesday’s Prompt sponsored by Poet-in-Exhile, Mbizo Chirasha

 

Mbizo Chirasha

“In my works on African culture, I am not against races or tribes, but systems that betray Africa. People must stop being stooges and writers must write against second and third colonialistic winds.” Mbizo Chirasha in an interview with The Herald HERE.



Mbizo Chirasha

We did something unusual with the last Wednesday Writing Prompt.  We asked poets to respond specifically to the situation of Zimbabwean Poet-in-Exile, Mbizo Chirasha. (Not all the poets actually responded on theme, but they did respond on related issues that concern them and so we included their poems in this collection.) The purpose of the theme is to help us create awareness of the plight of our fellow poets like Mbizo and other writers, artists and activists who are directly fighting authoritarianism, despotism and kleptocracy on the front lines and putting their general welfare and even their lives at risk in doing so. These are socially-engaged creatives who are in danger from amoral govenments in their own beloved countries. We appreciate your participation as writers, readers and humanitarians in this week’s unusual and important prompt.

Mbizo writes in response to the submissions:

Great poets around the world, readers of poetry, esteemed audience of  The Poet by Day: I salute you with my sincere gratitude for timeous creative support. You are word revolutionaries fighting with me in trenches for the attainment of social justice, human rights, and  freedom of expression.  This is as it should be. Writers should be first to shoot words, sling metaphors, and pose readily in the artistic armour to wage a resilient, creative and nonviolent war.

I am heartily touched by the amount of  commitment, depth and detail in these submissions. We should remain resilient, focused strong and creative in the quest for national harmony, regional peace, and global sanity. Writers must write and continue to write to mitigate bad governance, corruption, injustice, hegemony, dictatorship, political violence, and social malaise.

Aluta continua!
Mbizo Chirasha

Our thanks to Gary W. Bowers, Paul Brookes, Anjum Wasim Dar, Mike Stone, Pali Raj, and Sonja Benskin Mesher for the richness of this collection. Countries represented in the post are: England, Kashmir, India, Israel, Pakistan, United States, and Zimbabwe.

We’ll return to the traditionally prompt response layout and inclusions next week. We’ve modified it this week out of respect for the occasion. Thank you for understanding. A brief update on Mbizo’s status (not good) closes this post.



artivist artifice artemis bolt

artivist artifice artemis bolt
wring out a dream and give despots a jolt.
artemis arm&fist activist strike
shake out a mindset and shore up a dyke.
artifice artdoesthis anarchist grow
muralize justice for over and throw.
antidote anecdote anthemnote strive
make visitations of souls kept alive.

© 2019, Gary W. Bowers

How To Be Corrupt And Be Seen As Honest.

Here is the syllabus. This will be a tough course.

Introduction will focus on the psychopathology of hard business and unwavering pursuit of profit.
We will teach you how to see people as things. Your mother and father will be unrecognisable to you, as will your kids and spouse. They are merely objects to be maneouvred.

Main course content.

1. How to steal money from public coffers, whilst supporting charitable causes. How to steal food from babies mouths, how to watch the poorer become poorer.
2. How to store stolen money in off shore accounts, defended by laws not available in your home country.
3. How to employ PR to defend your reputation, white wash your actions.

Good luck on the course.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

In Response to Mbizo Chirasha Freedom Poetry

For I sang the freedom song for years
in vain, in pain,
One day I will return
O my homeland ,my heaven, land of
pure peace,

I am the native child, born in captivity
my feet never touched my beloved soil
I breathed but for a while in mother’s
lap,
In sleep, led away, far away, to refuge
One day I will return, I sang my song-

It is a nightmare
futile dream of the happy return
my earth oozes martyrs’ blood spills
resounds with raped women’s screams
burns with saffron spreads in wide fields
weeps with weeping willows in the streams
One day I will return, and I sang my song,
in vain, in pain

I am the houseboat abandoned
I am the ‘shikara’ floating,empty
I am the moaning water of Dal
I am the aroma of sweet apples
I am the snow of mountain tops
I am the color of pansies and lotus
I am the music of the ‘rubaab’
I am the child of a captive state

One day I will return I sang my song
in vain, in pain

But now my heart is silent,my voice
stilled, my feet in fetters, my home
locked, my road blocked, guarded
I am tired of pellets bullets and gas,

I am cold like a stone, no ‘Kangarri’
I carry , no greens or beans I cook
I am but a listed item, a numberless
number, a lost identity, snatched
wrenched annexed conquered

My song of freedom rings aloud
but can anyone hear? Will anyone
come? Will anyone cry for me? Or
my land, to set free? Perhaps one day,

if the music sails on, reaches the stars
Showers the rain which pours free
and washes away the mud of captivity
breaks the chains lifts the barriers and
calls-
Come Your land is yours, gone is the
enemy- but I woke up again, in pain
in vain,
I hear the fearful scream-heavy boots
shaking the soil, tearing up roots
I do not wish to sing, but pray, hope
It is all a dream-
In vain I sing, in pain I try to-sleep

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

To The Defenders of Freedom

When peaceful protest fails
and protesters are put in jails
then forces must stand
bravely to defend the land-

In attack
outnumbered ten to one
crawled under enemy tank
martyred to glory, sank in
body, blood in native sand

In loyalty
you saved the land
blasting enemy tanks
with bravery supreme
grenades in hands

In honor
you remain for ever you live
those who die a life they give
and repel the enemy aggressive.

And now I say and know
battles have been fought
public protests prevail
as Freedom must be saved
at all cost-

or else, all is forever lost

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

In Freedom

In Freedom There is Fear
When a close and dear
one, is no more,

In Freedom there is blood
When all you made in life
Is washed away in flood;

In freedom there is sacrifice
When all you claim and own
Is taken away without a price;

In freedom there is liberty
For many just a statue
fights, no rights, nor equality;

In Freedom there are letters
promises and false hopes
soon you are in iron fetters;

In Freedom I was born
I never saw my land
I long for its beauty
In dewdrops shining
In the morn;

In Freedom there is a gift
treasure not and you find
it floating by and adrift;

In Freedom there is ease
calm and harmony, hold
it strong for eternal peace

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

Do Not Make War

1.

it must be painful for them to write, those poets in tough-times and hard places
where blood and tears and poverty contaminate the air, stain the sidewalks, and consume the people

the blood must be soul-sick and rusted and tasting of acid, not salt,
and the poems meant to heal the writer and stroke the cheeks of the wounded,
to dry their eyes and gently kiss their gray heads

to poem in such places must be like walking shoeless on glass shards

perhaps the most sacred thing in the dream-time meadow of poets’ desire is Light ~

can you awaken to meet the Divine when you are on the run, in hiding, on the battlefield, in the camps, in government housing or in the ghettos?

if so, you are a saint, not simply an artist

2.

in my small world, my civilized world, people fall asleep reading or after making love or playing in the yard with their children

if they wander, it is through books or planned travel

there are luxuries
there is food
there is cleanliness and paper on which to write
no bombs are dropping to scorch and scar the Earth
no government thugs stalk us with ill intent
there is a certain dignity

3.

in San Francisco we walk along the beach at night, near the Cliff House
we walk to the sound of the waves, the song of the Earth chanting its joys
our feet are bare and relish the comfort of cool sand

the air is clear and cold and easy to breathe, tasting of salt and smelling of sea life ~
here is a pristine moment of peace

i want to bequeath this peace to you, to everyone,
as though it were a cherished heirloom
it is really a birthright

i want to plunge into the waters and gather the ocean in my cupped hands, to offer it to you as sacramental wine

i want to form seaweed into garlands for all of us to wear, to hang over our hearts, a symbol of affection

i want to collect pine cones from the trees that congregate along the coast and feed them to the children to remind them to cherish this Earth and all its creatures, themselves included, and to say …

do not make war in your heart or upon your mother’s body

© 2016, Jamie Dedes

Silent, poor, innocent, youth
They witness democratic loot
Corruption rise,
And businessmen fight when
Economic slowdown
They are blown into religious fight
They seek a person with opposite ions
When their grief rise
You call me activist, but
I must also sleep the long night
Well, activism
I haven’t wished for it, nor consented to it
I only love my nation.

© 2019, Pali Raj

Then as Now

The sweet pungency of rose and violets
Floats on the gentle breezes
And down the road a ways the church bells toll
As they did then.

At the shooting range, you still see bullet holes
But they buried all the targets in mass graves,
Not helter-skelter like some graveyards,
But very orderly as they were then.

The tall poplar trees surround electric fences,
They seem inviting, leaves rustling in the breeze,
A nightmare inside a blonde and blue-eyed dream,
As it was then.

They scrub the showers, ovens, and the smokestacks,
The red brick raw and spotless.
A pile of shoes stands in silent accusation
But no one hears, then as now.

© 2019, Mike Stone

Hatred

And the prophet stood among a few people.
In the marketplace of ideas, there were many prophets
But this prophet spoke quietly. He said
Hatred is not a state of mind
That one can enter and leave at will;
It is a road that starts in innocence
Leading ever downhill
And ends in unplumbed evil.
I don’t tell you turn the other cheek
When struck, as another prophet said,
But I say don’t answer hatred with hatred.
Hatred comes from ignorance of others,
Thinking they are not like us,
That they don’t love their children
Or honor their parents
Or fear for their future as we do.
Why not answer hatred with hatred?
Because it creates a circle without exit or break
And perhaps their hatred comes from
Honoring their past or fearing their future.
What should you do?
When you understand those whom you call “other”
You will know what to do, and hate
Will wither like dry tumbleweed in the desert
Because there is no other,
There is only us.

© 2019, Mike Stone

Blessed Are the Rich

Blessed are the rich
For they shall inherit the meek
And enslave them.
Blessed are the rich
Who will inherit new worlds to suck dry
After they have sucked dry our only world.
Blessed are the rich
Who make their own blessings
And the gods to bless them.
Cursed are the poor
Who bow down to worship
The gods of the rich,
Who count the blessings of the rich
Who are sucked dry by the rich
Who are enslaved by the rich.
Cursed are the poor
Who bless the curse of meekness
For their children to inherit.

® 2019, Mike Stone

Birdsong

A small bird landed on the branch of an old tree
Where other loudly chirping birds were perched.
The other birds on this branch twittered critically
And decided she was not one of them.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off your right wing like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had only their left wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
Flapping his left wing and spiraling downward
Until he crashed beak first into a rock.
To each bird, according to its needs, the other birds tweeted.

The little bird flew to another branch on the old tree.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off your left wing like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had only their right wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
Flapping his right wing and spiraling downward
Until he crashed beak first into the hard tree root.
To each bird, according to its capabilities, the other birds chirped.

The little bird flew to another branch on the old tree.

If you want to perch on our branch, they said to her,
You’ll have to cut off both your wings like all of us
And the little bird saw that the other birds
Had no wings. But how do you fly, she asked.

One of the birds responded by jumping off the branch,
But having nothing to flap, plummeted down
Until he crashed beak first into the hard ground.
We are neither left nor right, the other birds sang.

The little bird flew to another tree
And sang a two-wing song for you and me.

© 2019, Mike Stone  

What Use Is Beauty?

What use is beauty
If it merely masks an inner ugliness,
If it just confuses us
Like too much wine
Making us think we’re gods?
What good is truth
If falsehood is far more useful
For getting what you need or want
And easier to believe by far
Besides, who has time for truth?
What purpose does freedom serve
If it only starves us
or makes us lonely?
Most prefer a bond or two
To a mindless multitude.
What’s the point of words
If they are not the right words,
The precise ones that we think
Or those that others want to hear?

© 2019, Mike Stone

The Emperor’s New Changes

Raanana, September 11, 2016

A hundred thousand poets for change
That’s us.
That’s what we called ourselves last year
And the year before.
So they’ve stopped lynching the poets in Arabia?
They’ve stopped stoning the raped women in Kabul?
What about the mutilation of genitals of young girls?
So they’ve stopped burning down Black churches in Bama?
Stopped desecrating the lands of our Sioux brothers?
How about the carbon they’ve dumped in the atmosphere?
Did they stop that?
Do they believe now the earth is too warm to live on?
Are philosophers kings yet?
Are kings philosophers?
I don’t mean to be cynical
But it doesn’t seem like much has changed since last year.
We’ve read a few poems,
That’s all.
Come to think of it,
Have we really changed,
Except for getting a year older?
If that’s change
Then we better change change
So that it’s palpable
So that we can feed people with it
So that people can walk tall from it
So that people can protect themselves with it
So that people can make love to it
Until change is done changing
And the world is all the Republic we need.

© 2019, Mike Stone

:: exiles ::

i heard on the radio.

they decided to walk.

he asked her what she had..

nothing she said, nothing.

money? nothing, nothing,
nothing. nothing.nothing.

nothing left except my girls.

i have not lost them, we hold hands,
hold hands, hold hands.

we have nothing.nothing. nothing left.

they decided to walk.holding hands

© 2019, Sonja Benskin Mesher



A Brief Status Update on Mbizo*

Mbizo Chirasha

We’re still $295 short of the Go-Fund-Me goal. Mbizo is in hiding, without any regular source of food or access to a computer, which would facilitate his radio interview and preparing his applications for asylum and other assistance. You are able to donate anonymously through go-fund-me. Even a few dollars will help us reach goal. This effort is hosted by an organizer from International Human Rights Art Festival.  If you can help in some other way, please connect with Mbizo at girlchildcreativity@gmail.com.Thank you!

*
RELATED

“We remain resilient in the quest for justice, freedom of expression and upholding of human rights through Literary Activism and Artivism. ALUTA CONTINUA.” Mbizo Chirasha



 

Three poems including “Poetry” by Marianne Moore

Photograph by George Platt Lynes (1935) from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c01955 / Public Domain

” . . . Moore wrote without regard to labels. She was a Modernist who used a precise syllabic form and rhymes. She was a defender of the underdog, an early white champion of civil rights and of black artists and athletes who also voted Republican and defended LBJ’s continuing the Vietnam War, the latter mainly so as not to abandon the South Vietnamese. She wrote “advertising” verse and patriotic poems during WWII. She was raised by lesbians and then denigrated by second wave feminists.

“Her poetry must be read and dealt with if you care about American poetry. Her carefully controlled poems were often described as emotionless and overly intellectual. In truth, she was able to contain deep emotion and thought in precise verse, a skill and aesthetic often not practiced or appreciated since the Confessionals came along.” excerpt from July 25, 2017 Library Thing Review of Linda Leavell’s Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore



An Egyptian Pulled Glass Bottle In The Shape Of A Fish

Here we have thirst
and patience, from the first,
and art, as in a wave held up for us to see
in its essential perpendicularity;

Not brittle but
intense–the spectrum, that
spectacular and humble animal the fish,
whose scales turn aside the sun’s sword with their polish.

Poetry

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important
beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it,
one discovers that there is in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not be-
cause a

high sounding interpretation can be put upon them
but because they are
useful; when they become so derivative as to
become unintelligible, the
same thing may be said for all of us – that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand. The bat,
holding on upside down or in quest of some-
thing to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll,
a tireless wolf under
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a
horse that feels a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician – case after case
could be cited did
one wish it; nor is it valid
to discriminate against “business documents
and

school-books”; all these phenomena are important.
One must make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half
poets,
the result is not poetry,
nor till the autocrats among us can be
“literalists of
the imagination” – above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads
in them, shall we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on one hand,
in defiance of their opinion –
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness, and
that which is on the other hand,
genuine, then you are interested in poetry.

A Grave

Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-foot at the top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea;
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look—
whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate them
for their bones have not lasted:
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave,
and row quickly away—the blades of the oars
moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx—beautiful under networks of foam,
and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed;
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as heretofore—
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion beneath them;
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of bellbuoys,
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound to sink—
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor consciousness.

– Marianne Moore

Editor’s Note: The layout of Ms. Moore’s poems here are not consistent with the original.  I was unable to manage that in this WordPress theme. I believe all her poems are in the public domain at this point.  Her Amazon Page is HERE.  If you haven’t made a study of her, there’s no time like the present.

Marianne Moore (1948 by Carl Van Vechten, Van Vechten Collection at Library of Congress / Public Domain

MARIANNE MOORE (1887 – 1972) was a  premier American modernist poet, critic, translator, and editor. Her poetry is notable for formal innovation, precise diction, irony and wit. Poetry may be her most famous poem, followed by The Grave.

Poetry expresses Ms. Moore’s hope for poets who can produce “imaginary gardens with real toads in them”. It also expressed her idea that meter, or anything else that claims the exclusive title “poetry”, is not as important as the delight in language and precise, heartfelt expression in any form. Moore’s meter was radically separate from the English tradition. She wrote her syllabic poems after the advent of free verse, which encouraged to try previously unusual meters.

 

Marianne Moore credited the poetry of Dame Edith Sitwell as “intensifying her interest in rhythm and encouraging her rhythmic eccentricities” In response to a biographical sketch in 1935, Moore indicated “a liking for unaccented rhyme, the movement of the poem musically is more important than the conventional look of lines upon the page, and the stanza as the unit of composition rather than the line.” Later in her Selected Poems of 1969, she also commented in regard to her poetic form, that “in anything I have written, there have been lines in which the chief interest is borrowed, and I have not yet been able to outgrow this hybrid method of composition”.

Moore often composed her poetry in syllabics, she used stanzas with a predetermined number of syllables as her “unit of sense”, with indentation underlining the parallels, the shape of the stanza indicating the syllabic disposition, and her reading voice conveying the syntactical line. Her syllabic lines from Poetry illustrate her position: poetry is a matter of skill and honesty in any form whatsoever, while anything written poorly, although in perfect form, cannot be poetry.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton