The November sky without a star Droops low over the midnight street; On the pale pavement, cautiously A leaf moves. – Jun Fujita
Groundbreaking poet and photojournalist Jun Fujita is the focus of a new exhibition presented by the Newberry Library and the Poetry Foundation. A multi-media experience comprising poetry, photographs, personal correspondence and archival artifacts, Jun Fujita: American Visionary explores the life and career of one of Chicago’s master chroniclers.
As the first Japanese American photojournalist, Fujita captured many of the most infamous moments in Chicago history, including the Eastland Disaster, the 1919 race riots and the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. As an English-language poet writing in the Japanese tanka tradition, his poems appeared regularly in Poetry magazine, published in Chicago since 1912.
“Jun Fujita was a visionary ahead of his time, both in his visual and written art forms, as well as his contemporary 45-year partnership with Florence Carr,” said Katherine Litwin, Poetry Foundation library director and exhibition cocurator. “We’re honored to partner with the Newberry to further expand and unfold the layers of his life and Chicago legacy through this exhibition.”
As anti-Japanese xenophobia crested during World War II, Fujita faced hostility, prejudice, and persecution. The U.S. government declared him an “enemy alien,” and his assets were frozen. Yet despite this adversity, Fujita achieved unprecedented success in his profession and offered an alternative model of what it means to be “American.”
“Jun Fujita put forth a vision for what’s possible, particularly love, acceptance, and sanctuary in a place bent on exclusion,” adds Fred Sasaki, Poetry art director and exhibition curator.
A static mood, in the morning woods
Wet and clear –
In a majestic pattern, leaves are spellbound
By a fawn, ears perked.
JUN FUJITA was born Junnosuke Fujita on 13 December 1888 in Nishimura, a village near Hiroshima, Japan. When he was older, Fujita moved from Japan to Canada, where he worked odd jobs to save enough money to move to the United States of America, which he considered to be a “land of opportunity.” He moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he attended and graduated from Wendell Phillips Academy High School, a four-year predominantly African-American public school whose notable alumni include Nat “King” Cole, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Archibald Carey, Jr. Following his high school graduation, he studied mathematics at the Armour Institute of Technology, which later became the Illinois Institute of Technology, with plans to become an engineer. To help pay his way through college, Fujita took a job as the first and only photojournalist at the Chicago Evening Post, which later became the Chicago Daily News. MORE [Wikipedia]
Read more of Jun Fujita’s poetry HERE at Poetry Foundation. His collection is available through Amazon but is unfortunately prohibitively priced. It is not available through the Gutenberg Project or Internet Archive. Poems and journal articles about Fujita’s photography are accessible at JSTOR HERE.
Jun Fujita: American Visionary runs from January 24 through March 31 at the Newberry. The exhibition is free and open to all.
Throughout the exhibition, a series of related public programs will further explore its major themes. These programs include:
This post is compiled courtesy of the Poetry Foundation, Wikipedia, and Amazon. The poems are courtesy of Poetry Foundation in concert with JSTOR.
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.
About the Newberry Library
At the Newberry Library, visitors and researchers explore centuries of human history, from the Middle Ages to the present. The library’s collection—some 1.6 million books, 600,000 maps, and 5 million manuscript pages—is accessible to all in Newberry reading rooms, program spaces, exhibition galleries, and online digital resources. Since its founding in 1887, the Newberry has remained dedicated to deepening our collective understanding of ourselves, others, and the world around us. As individuals engage with Newberry collections and staff, they discover stories that bridge the past and present and illuminate the human condition.
The limerick packs laughs anatomical Into space that is quite economical. But the good ones I’ve seen So seldom are clean And the clean ones so seldom are comical. Leonard Feinberg, The Secret of Humor (Rodopi, 1978)
There was an old man with a beard, Who said: ‘It is just as I feared! Two owls and a hen, Four larks and a wren Have all built their nests in my beard. -Edward Lear
Most people have heard or read a limerick, even if you don’t read poetry as a rule. A limerick is one of the most fun forms of poetry, as it is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
Edward Lear is probably the most famous, or at least the most prolific, limerick writer. He is credited with popularizing the form. His pieces are pretty much pure nonsense, while other poets often create “bawdy” limericks.
A limerick is a five-line poem with a strict rhyme and rhythm. The rhyme scheme is aabba and the rhythm is anapestic (dadaDUM). This gives the poem a bouncy feel that suits the light subject matter.
Lines 1, 2, and 5 are anapestic trimeter and lines 3 and 4 are anapestic dimeter. This means the first, second, and last lines have three stressed syllables, while the third and fourth have only two. With the two unstressed syllables for each stressed, the lines don’t feel overly short. There are nine or ten syllables in the longer lines and five or six in the shorter ones. There is some variance in syllable count as you can drop the first unstressed syllable of each line if you like.
Technically you can use the limerick form for any subject matter you like, but if it’s not silly, is it really a limerick? Here’s one I did with more serious subject matter. Does it feel like a “real” limerick? I don’t know. I don’t really think so.
Spring is a season of birth, As winter lets go of the earth. The days become longer; The light becomes stronger, And we put off our furs and go forth.
The style doesn’t really lend itself to the subject matter that well. Nonsense words fit better, don’t they? But you can do whatever you like if you write your own.
Here’s a better one I wrote recently:
If you don’t have the money to cover, And the debits come out and go over, Be sure that the fees Will advance your unease, And assist you in going e’er lower!
It’s not nonsense, but it is a kind of dark humour.
You’ll notice that I used some near rhymes rather than exact rhymes. For more information on how to do this, check out my article on rhyming HERE.
Now, it’s your turn. Find something silly or annoying or whatever to write about and try your hand at crafting a limerick. Have fun!
ESTHER SPURRILL-JONES (Esther Jones, I Just Live Here) is a poet, lover, thinker, human. She tells us, “I am not an open book although I wish that I could be. A part of me is all you see—the rest is hidden deep inside. Words have always been my art. They dance for me and sing for me. They laugh for me and cry for me. They are my paint and brushes. They are my clay.” Connect with Esther: Facebook; Twitter; Medium; Instagram; Blog; Email; Amazon.
The Kingdom of Mapungubwe (or Maphungubgwe) (c.1075–1220) was a medieval state in Southern Africa, the first stage in a development that would culminate in the creation of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe in the 13th century.
This week’s prompt is graciously hosted by Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha.
Land of baobab, land of eagles
Mapungubwe,sagging with ambition of nujoma, madikizela and sobukwe
Land of crocodiles and spiritual eagles- Mapungubwe
Rivers groaning with sweet tongues and sacred laughters
Mapungubwe – dream of stones
Bones and spirits quietly sleeping under the burden of peaceful rocks
Your songs , mapungubwe rhythm to bones of dead heroes and sleeping heroines
Mapungubwe ,crying tears of laughter, struggle and freedom ,
Editor’s Note: nujoma is Sam Nujoma, a Namibian revolutionary, anti-apartheid activist and politician; Madikizela is Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a South-African anti-apardied activest, politician, and the second wife of Nelson Mandela; Sobukwe is Robert Sobukwe, South African political dissident, teacher, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress.
Sing Bamako, sing of spiders blighting freedom tomatoes
Sing of our pimped heritage
Somalia, the dramatic irony of Africa
Ethiopia, bring back the oil of our anthems and the clay of our identity
Ivory coast , your hands are hardened by hard years of madness
Cockroaches are walking over sleeping Zambezi
Gugulethu ,tired of scathy tongues and maruajuana
Egypt bulletins drenched by Arab spring urine
Abuja, how long are you going to walk in shadows?
MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of The BeZine core team. He is a poet from Zimbabwe who is on the run. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor. In part I am doing this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany, but England or U.S. would work too. Open to suggestion. Connect with me if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.
WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT
Mbizo’s prompt for us this week is “Neocolonialism” or the use in place of direct imperialism of capitalism, globalization, and cultural imperialism for the suppression of human rights by First World actors in Third World arenas, Africa, Asia, Latin America. Or, short story: power and profits over people. What is the fallout? Poverty. Hunger. Violence. Failed states. Terrorism. Have we all lost our souls? These are my thoughts as I ponder what I might write in response to Mbizo’s prompt.
Share you own poem or poems and …
please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose
Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published.
IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at email@example.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.
PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.
Deadline: Monday, January by 27 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.
Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro. It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.
You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.
“In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.” Eugene Debbs, Canton, OH, Anti-War Speech, June 16, 1918, Voices of a People’s History of the United States
Today’s thoughtful collection is courtesy of Jane Wood, who is new to our pages and warmly welcome, and Anjum Wasim Dar, Irma Do, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Tamam Tracy Moncur, Eric Nicholson, and Mike Stone
Enjoy! and do join us for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt, which will post tomorrow morning and is being hosted this week by Mbizo Chirasha. All are welcome to come out and play, beginning poets, emerging and pro.
We are living in a time of certain doubt.
Cruel men and mean women
wielding their self-anointed power of bibles.
Piously pulling verses over our eyes.
Poisoning us with dark lies.
Wretched faces hating at me from tv screens
screeching eternal damnation screams
in the name of their gods.
Americas royal lineage of preachers and politicians.
Immersed in godly superstitions.
With every breath condemn us to a hellfire rain
on an endless trek of tears
Vengefully severed from the promised garden.
Surrounded by wailing walls of lamentation.
Rising from the volcanic mud of beasts
they prey upon us at their sin eaters feasts.
Death makes angels and devils of us all.
Made naked born to suffer for your heaven rewards.
Crucifix around my neck
‘hail mary’ on my lips.
JANE ‘SPOKENWORD”GRENIER‘s performances represent the spoken word as it is meant to be experienced, raw, uncensored and thought provoking. A poet and spoken word performer, her performances are eclectic and range from poetry reads, to slams, duos, trios, and various band formations.
Jane’s collaborations include Min Tanaka of the Butoh theatre, Mayo Yamaguchi of the No Theatre, avant-garde Maestro Cecil Taylor, Founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Miguel Algarin, Beat Poet John Sinclair, her son, hip hop musician/producer Nastee, and her partner in all things Albey on Bass. Her experience spans a full spectrum of venues; the Nuyorican’s Poet Cafe, the Whitney Museum, The NYC Alternative New, Year’s Day Spoken Word Extravaganza, Bowery Poetry Club, Roulettes, Blue Stockings Bookstore, Cornelia St. Cafe, A Gathering of Tribes, Evolving Voice/Evolving Music Series, Arts for Art in the Parks, The Stone, Le Poisson Rouge, the Cantab, the Lizard Lounge, the Maple Leaf Reading Series, festivals include The Vision Festival, MA Poetry Festival, Lady Fest, Dumbo Art Festival, SxSW, Porch Fest, The New Orleans Infringe Festival, libraries, slam lounges, art galleries, clubs, street corners, and living rooms everywhere.
Jane has self-published two books with cd’s and videos Tragically Hip and Word Against the Machine. Her piece I Am A Poet was recently chosen for publication in We Are Beat, National Beat Poetry Anthology, 2019. Various works have been published in Good Housekeeping, Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe, Tragically Hip – L.E.S. Publication, TV Baby – OHWOW Publications, and several anthologies: Estrellas En El Fuego (Stars in the Fire) – Rogue Scholars Express, Shadow Of The Geode, and Palabras Luminosas,
post fall disobedience
leads to destruction,
color, creed or race,
one good in grace, one in face,
a face meeting a face,
lost heaven, fate doomed,
no fear, nor lessons taken,
why still, false beguile ?
crimes committed in
conniption, subreption reigns,
gold saves savages,
a trendy Bohemian style
Ah, but for a while,
the rich may stand tall,
puppets, idols, mafia,
deception soon dies.
Resile falsehood, then,
discern truth,adapt, accept,
wait, be blessed by Light!
Editor’s note: Obreption and sobreption are Latin terms used in ancient Roman Law meaning to creep toward or against and in the Cannon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, where they refer to fraud (whether intentional, malicious, or done out of ignorance) when there is a plea for ecclesiastical dispensation. Obreption is also used in Scots law.
This a note from an irate black woman who still lives in hope despite the intolerance, the racism, the violence perpetrated against black people a direct result of the massive deception that justified the oppression of Africans forcing them into slavery using Christianity to camouflage greed and lust in a quest for money and for power…passed on through the generations to the hypocritical leaders of today still making obeisance to hate, the almighty dollar, and to avarice.
The image of Jesus changed “in the twinkling of an eye” from a brown man to a white man…a lie painted by a famous painter commissioned for this duplicity by a leader in the 15th century to paint and portray his son as Jesus another twist in the use and abuse of our Lord and Savior… Jesus the God of Love sent by the Father from heaven above to set our souls free filling our hearts with empathy for our fellow man.
Deceptive politicians and devious people hide behind the name of Jesus condoning liars pants all afire and ablaze with animosity wreaking havoc and bloodshed keeping the poor in subjugation hungry living out their lives in desolation…condoning war mongers in their insensitivity as they split up immigrant families…condoning bigotry as it destroys health care for the needy…where is mercy? where is New Testament charity in the land of plenty?
Jesus tells us to love God, love our neighbor even love our enemy. He comforts us in our deepest depression because He is our friend in the midst of feelings of isolation…He gives us a spiritual peace as we travel through the muck and the mire of this earthly existence releasing our innermost feelings to “the Creator of the ends of the earth”, to our God who sits “high and looks low”, to God the Father who is in control of this universe.
“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Diary of an Inner City Teacher is a probe into the reality of teaching in our inner city school systems as seen from the front line. Over two decades in the trenches, educator Tamam Tracy Moncur exposes through her personal journal the plights, the highlights, the sadness, and the joys she has experienced as a teacher. Come to understand why the United States Department of Education and the various state departments of education must realize the teaching of academics cannot be divorced from the social issues that confront the students. Let s be innovative together and design new millennium schools that address the educational needs of the inner city students before it s too late! Our children s very existence is at stake! Laugh, cry, and become informed as you embrace the accounts of an inner city teacher.
Anthony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud
A thousand metal struts thrum
in a quantum cloud
like a giant version of pick-a-stick
as you slowly circle round
you create a human spirit after all
the world’s sages talk of an energy
body distinct from what your eyes
tell you going beyond Single Vision
you are a collaborator
with the maverick metaphysician’s
uncertainty principle and slowly
together you populate space time.
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.
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.
Ramses Two, Ozymandias, third king of the nineteenth dynasty,
Son of Seti One or the sun, as you would have us believe,
Conqueror of Nubia, Libya, Canaan, Syria, and the Hittites,
Enslaver of the Hebrews who carried your pyramids on their broken backs,
You built temples to forgotten gods,
Cities buried under shifting sand dunes,
And colossal statues of yourself in stone
Commemorating your colossal feats for all posterity
Striking awe and terror in your peoples’ hearts,
Intimidating those who would invade,
But all that remains are the colossal feet,
The rest resides in a British museum.
Your mummied body, five foot seven,
Hunched over ancient arthritis and abscessed teeth,
Is now in some Parisian museum viewed by
Heartless bodies with a plane to catch.
If you could see yourself as we see you now,
The submerged relics of your once and future greatness,
Would you have thought it worth your efforts
And not a waste of precious life?
Life crashes through all of us,
As through paper walls or
Trampling you and me like blades of grass
Under a careless runner’s feet
To reach some distant star.
Used to be
Evil was more personal.
You had to be there to do it.
Now just somebody doing his job
(Someone has to do it).
A small child all curled up
Hugging the floor
Because there’s nothing else to hug
Thinking maybe that will protect him
An old woman
Survived the Holocaust
The concentration camps
Peeling walled room
Filled with shiny new exercise equipment
Carrot peelers turkey stuffers satellite radios back scratchers
And other stuff she didn’t need
Because she couldn’t say no
To the nice lady on the phone.
The trees being cut down
And people cows factories and cars
Blowing carbon into the sky
Til the last one of us drops breathless
To the ground he made great again
While our world went to hell.
Used to be good
Though there always was some evil
But you could always see it coming
From a mile or two away
And the world was always greater.
Call of the Whippoorwill is Mike Stone’s fourth book of poetry, It contains all new poems covering the years from 2017 to 2019. The poetry in this book reflects the unique perspectives and experiences of an American in Israel. The book is a smorgasbord of descriptions, empathies, wonderings, and questionings. It is available on Kindle and if you have Kindle Unlimited you can download it as part of your membership. I did. Recommended. / J.D