Poetry

  • Tahel Frosh. Photo by Alon Porat
       May 2015
    Tahel Frosh. Photo by Alon Porat הרי ספרד אֲנִי כּוֹתֶבֶת אֶת מַה שֶּׁלֹּא יִתָּכֵן כִּי יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁמְּדַבְּרִים עַל כֶּסֶף בְּאִינְטִימִיוּת מִי שֶׁמַּעֲבִירִים בִּזְרָמִים חוּשָׁנִיִּים כֶּסֶף שֶׁלְּעוֹלָם לֹא אֲקַבֵּל וַאֲנִי מַקְשִׁיבָה לַקּוֹל הָאוֹמֵר, מָכַרְנוּ בְּמִילְיוֹנִים אֲנִי מַקְשִׁיבָה לְעֵינֵי הַמַּתֶּכֶת הַתְּכֻלּוֹת וּבַבַּיִת חוֹשֶׁבֶת, מִשְׁקָפַיִם יָפִים עוֹלִים אֶלֶף שֶׁק...
  • Sapling
       March 2015
    Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography All my being is a dark verse that repeats you to the dawn of unfading flowering and growth. I conjured you in my poem with a sigh and grafted you to water, fire, and trees. Perhaps life is a long avenue a woman with a basket crosses every day; perhaps life is a rope with which a man hangs himself from a tree, or is a child returning home from school. Ma...
  • Standing on Earth
       March 2015
    Photo by ~dgies/Flickr Bilingual recordings by the author and Lyn Coffin 9 Death is when the heart does not beat and the clock beats. Love is when the heart beats and the clock does not beat. Perhaps this simple comparison explains why you glanced at your watch. You knew that waiting is the dense endurance of eternity and love, the miracle of mortals, makes eternity a...
  •    March 2015
    [Click here to read the lyrics in Farsi.]   The whole of my being is a dark verse of Scripture which in its repeated recitations will take you away to the dawn of eternal buddings and bloomings. In this verse I sighed for you, sighed, ah, in reciting this verse I grafted you to tree and water and fire. Perhaps life is a long avenue which a woman crosses each day with a basket. Perhaps lif...
  • Misrak Terefe and friends
    Misrak Terefe (far right) with fellow Ethiopian performance poets. This says the meaning of country is sitting in the balance.In order to say, to be able to see,the balance, the leader must seethe country from the people’s side.From the people’s side when truth shines on the meaning of countrycountry means mother, and from the mother’s body soul is born.Therefore taking somethi...
  • Samsung Square
    For a group of art performances in July 2013 called Wax and Gold organized by the Netsa Art Village, visual artist Mulugeta Gebrekidan presented “Invading Samsung Square” to protest the corporate advertising takeover of Addis Ababa’s public spaces. Click here to watch a video about the performances put together by the artists’ collective. The lively center of the contemporary Ethiopian...
  • Niyi Afolabi
                                   for Mia Couto Dream,     Dream,          Dream.Never cease to dream       Dream on, MiaYour beginning A tale of yesterdays     Your today     A tale of future years And the voyager never restsWithout his dancing plume Beira,      Cradle of the people’s poetMaputo,      Agency for the cosmic itinerant Hibernat...
  • Red Canyon
    Photo by Brent Pearson/Flickr Negative Space I I was born on a Tuesday in April.I didn’t cry. Not because I was stunned. I wasn’t even mad.I was the lucky egg, trained for gratitudeinside the belly for nine months straight. Two workers welded bunk beds at the endof the delivery room. One on top of the other.My universe might have been the white chalk lime ceilingor the embodiment of Einstein’s b...
  • Photo: Kristina Sheppard (flickr.com/summerspot)
    Photo: Kristina Sheppard/Flickr A Young Horse  I’ve never figured out what world I live in.I rode on a horse as young and as happy as I.When he galloped I could feel his heartbeatAgainst my thighsAnd my heart pounded, unquenchable, with the speed.Everything flashing by, I didn’t even notice That my saddle was restingOn the bones of a horseThat was rapidly falling to pieces on the trailAnd that I...
  • Photo by Alberto Varela
    Photo by Alberto Varela Bio   How unlike a dead fish a live fish is                 – Maxine Hong Kingston Kiedy byłam rybąKosmos jak zawsze okrągłyMiał przytulne ściany Śniłam o boskich płetwachPióropuszach i życiuPo wodzie  Mówiono ogonOdpada ale jest nagroda:Para bolesnych stóp.   Nie wierzyłamW bajki. ZapuściłamSkrzydła jak liście Czarnych paproci.Och gdzież jaNie byłam!  Kiedy był...
  • Fence Line. Photo by Todd Stewart
    Todd Stewart, “Fence Line, Tule Lake Relocation Center, 2001,” from Placing Memory: A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008). Eating Noodles  Even though it is cold outside,the windows of the noodle shopare covered with humid warmthas the columns of fragrant steamarise from bowls of broth.  The crowd, of course, is busy –children, a...
  • Amarsana Ulzytuev. Photo © Anna Dikareva.
      The author reading at the Gogol House Museum in Moscow, February 2014. Photo © Anna Dikareva. Listen to videotaped recordings of both Russian originals in the following clip (4:00-10:05).   Shenhen Buryat Out of the embittering mountains, out of faraway valleys, out of China,Legends from “under the counter,” the hiding places, Open Sesames,As though out of the blue the gold hoard of Kolchak’s...
  • Swallows. Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider/Flickr
    Swallows. Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider/Flickr The Swallows G. Mend-Ooyo  Returning from afar, swallows in flocksEmbrace the tales of the gentle, tranquil steppe.The waters of eternity were spilt into the yellow steppe’s palms,And, ever since, these little birds have dared not leave.  Once, out riding with my father many years ago,There were swallows flying over the lonely hil...
  • Photo by Katerina Cheiladaki
    Photo by Katerina Cheiladaki Translator’s note: Arvanitika, or Arberishte as it is called in the Corinthian mountain villages, is one of the many languages in the world facing extinction. It was once spoken in central Greece and in the Peloponnese and its islands. It has no official writing system or dictionaries and h...
  • Jesus Never Understood My Grandmother's Prayers
    Photo by Marjan Lazarevski     Jesucristo’is Ja’ Ñäjktyäj’ya Äj’ Tzumama’is Kyionuksku’y Äj’ tzumama’is ja’ myuspäkä’ kastiya’orenatzu’ jyambä’ä ngyomis’kyionukskutyamnatzu’ xaä’ tumä nabdzu’jyambäukam yanuku’is musokiu’tyamÄj’ tzumama’is wyanjambana’ jujche’ ore’omorire’naMuspabä tä’ tzamä’sawa’jintese’ kujtnebya’na eyabä’ ngomis wyinan’omoramtese’na konukspa chokoyjin ni’ijseJesucristo’is ja’...
  • Andrés Neuman. Photo by Simon Hurst
    The Gardener  I learned to plant trees with my grandfather.“The willows need more water than you, Andrés,and their rootsin the beginning aren’tvery deep.Sometimes they grow so fastand sometimes they stagnate in the earth,afraid of the air.” Today there’s no grandfather or countryor even that little boy. Only that curved willow remains which – I tell myself –Andrés, must be cared for,the...
  • Nathalie Handal with her camera.
    Author note: These flash semi-témoignages or reportages are inspired by stories people told me It began as a personal account of my relationship to the island of Hispaniola—Haiti and the Dominican Republic—and moved to the voices I encountered because they were louder than mine. An earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 20...
  • The Stream
      How tenderly the stream flowsamong the numberless blossomswhose heads dip and weavein the tepid east wind, how warmthe insect tune, and multitudethe ripe green grasses, rank on rankthrough which it runs, carryingthe sky in its light-rippled glass.  On either side the land smoothly risesto farther painted rocks wheretrails of all animals smaller than sheepcross and re-cross in the pale sand,pl...
  •   Wishes Wish I could still laugh with the lotusOn the bank of the Nile  Take off my clothes And dive into the Zambezi  Join spirit dancersIn the middle of the Ganges Romp with the RioTo the thunder of the samba Fan the Yangtze’s face With the fan of the moon Tease the ThamesWith a shoeless foot Embrace the VolgaWith open arms  Ask the MississippiFor a bowl of water . . .  Alas, between...
  • Photo by Gwaga
       March 2014
    Photo by Gwaga Little Men  Animals no longer speakDrums refuse to beatTanganyika slowly retreats From her shoresBloodied by the nightmare of menWhose pettiness piercesThe deep slumber of the ancients.Little men with the hunger of giantsThey talk, they talk endlesslyIn the name of simple folksWhose names and afflictions they ignoreBut who nonethelessStare at them with the disdain of countless cu...
  • Photo by Pieter Stockmans “Syrian refugees go about their business in a refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan . . .”  Ropes on poles, jeans & shirts flapping in wind.He sits on a giant bag of rice, head in hands.  Too much or too little, rips & bursts & furrows. Something seared in a pan.  If you knew a mother, any mother, you would carefor...
  • Maize Flower
    Translators’ Note Juan Hernández Ramírez describes both Nahuatl and Spanish as mirrors for his writing: “sirven de espejo, kewak se teskatl.” He does not write solely in one language, but rather both Nahuatl and Spanish perform together to create the pastiche of images in his poetry. The title of his book is indicative of this, as Juan writes Chikome Xochitl as...
  • Photo by Kables/Flickr Their language rolls out, soft carpet in front of them.Strolling slowly beneath trees, men in white shirts, belts, baggy trousers,women in scarves,glinting cigarettes in the dusk.What they left to be here, in the cold country,where winter lasts forever,haunts them in the dark –golden hue of souk in sunlight,gentle calling through str...
  • Clay Tablet Bearing the World’s First Alphabet That had comemuch later – After everythingalready had happened – Without witnessthe first stammered wordthis atomic flash forevercontaminating the oblivious creationwith spirit Orpheus Weightless isloveeye in eye – Gods allspare us the trialmay an impulsea gazeacross the shouldermark its fate   Hallowed Twilight Since when does your silence havethis...
  • The first time I saw your father,I stared back into the pool at your reflectionwhile he waded through,the water moving in gentle circles away from us. The first time, I thought it was the Nilewe’d dipped our heads into,the water thick with primordial cells,parthenogenesis producing nearidentical beings: his skin, your chin,the way your lips pull back to reveal teeth,the slope of his nose. I thoug...

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