POETRY

  • Filmed during the workshop and event  "A-B-A-B-A :  from hear to here" — choreographed by Christina Werner and Eric Ellingsen (Institut für Raumexperimente, UdK Berlin). Volksbühne Berlin, July 2014. Edited to complement "A Suite of Contemporary Ethiopian Poetry" — compiled by Eric Ellingsen in the January 2015 Issue of World Literature Today."
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  •    July 2013
    I Before what happened happened,I mean, before the towers became a stairway to the dayof reckoning, and the world split into twocamps, water and sand,I used to wish that I’d be among the poetswho would curse New York. The poem was almost ready in my mind.To write a poem about the jungle of asphalt and concretehas become a tradition since Lorca(inspired by Whitman probably, not Gibran)had anchored...
  • Letter to Baghdad Even if my father never speaks a word of it, I will knowhe brought a candle, a cough, and the occupied side of his heart.I will know the trees held him, that they rose above rooflines,and where they met, he climbed and saw roads paved only with praises.The sun he carried across oceans turned copper at his window.I saw it too, on the gray edge of my childhood,and I was marked whe...
  •    July 2013
    Ghazal Shakeel Badayuni My heart longs to go beyond the obsession of love,and find joy in a new session of love.  Love drowned me in its tidesbut my heart hopes that was a mere digression of love. My lover and I are so far apart –my heart yearns to make a confession of love. For so long my life has been colorless,but my heart wants a new impression of love.  May God save heave...
  •    May 2013
        Placing Everything on the Line Zvonko Karanović A car stops in the middle of the screena gentleman walks out dressed in black, wearing a hat,  grabs a frightened girl by the armblackmails her to marry him  desperate, she jumps off the building and all the newspapersprint the news on their front pages  the machinery of death always goes hand in handwith the machinery of large circulations  B...
  •    May 2013
    Blues Cola de Lagarto   Su frenesí candentede espiral infinitamuere, revive– blues cola de lagarto –del juke box a nosotros(al interior infiernoque lo rumia y r...
  • Photo by Bu Yousef/Flickr At the Market in Baghdad, 1940 Every morning the elder took his sons to pray,then let them swim through the heat of the dijlawhile he and his servant went to market, the Suuq Hannoun,to buy food for the day.  Abrahim considered a lamb;he checked its hip and slight pelvis then chose another.Respect and honor stood with him. He bargained     a melody of numbers...
  • Kookaburras in a tree. Photo by Jaraslavd/Flickr I thought it said on the girl’s red purseA kind of sad dance and all dayWondered what was being defined . . .The real love that followsEarly delight and ignorance.A wonderful sad dance that comes after.– Jack Gilbert, “Pavane” I may be sitting inside the best afternoon The world has put on since the Permian Extinction.                  ...
  •   Romantic Disagreement Of course I amagainst disturbing the moon.For many reasons.Not only is it an unseemly exaggeration—personally I’ve long avoided exaggeratingbecause of exhaustion—but it is also improper.So far, the moon’s relations with the earthhave beenhighly formal.Discreet from its enchanting distance,it offered perfect solutionsto mankind’s musing.And, above all,every so often,it silv...
  •    July 2012
    Illustration by Ciaran Duffy/Flickr   The Blue Whale Our five-year-old daughter bubbles with laughteras she bounces on her bed, pure joy flashingin her eyes like the glint of fingerlings in sunlit waves. Tired now, she settles happily between us to reada bedtime book about blue whales, far offshore,singing in the open sea. We learn they arethe largest animals on earth, but only feedon the smalles...
  •    May 2012
      On the Edges of Autumn I shall close death’s doors.I am the autumn’s last flower.Edith Södergran   My body is like algaeExhausted by the night’s diving.Gather me up in your bluenessThat I might float on the surface of your sleep –A purple dream.Perhaps,Perhaps a plant shall bloomOn the edges of autumn.   Nothing . . .  On the outskirts of autumn,I...
  •    May 2012
      Following is a selection of four bilingual audio readings from Shizue Ogawa’s A Soul at Play, a collection of verse reviewed in the May 2012 issue of WLT. Donna Tamaki provides the English reading, and Hikaru Tamaki accompanies Tamaki and the author on the cello.     井戸 - (The Well)     ライラックの木の下 (Under a Lilac Tree)      炎 — 遊ぶ魂 (Flames — A Soul at Play)    足あと (Tracks)
  •    May 2012
    Audio versions read by the author Editorial note: Geoffrey Philp’s interview with Erika J. Waters appears in the May 2012 issue of WLT on pages 24–29.     A Prayer for My Children When you find yourself in a faraway land surrounded by men, animals that mutter strange sounds, do not be afraid: neither you, your parents,   nor your ancestors have ever been alone. So tr...
  •   To a Poltergeist in the Bedroom’s Northward Wall Your senile hollow knocking hasremained ever the same, nodevelopment, no punctuation,you repeat yourself day after day,night after gray sleepless night,always with the same beat, as if you were a heartseeking to strike sparks on the stonesof the old house. A heart knocking softlywith knuckles on the incisorsof the future, seeking...
  • The Flower and the Hummingbird (En español)   The Flower and the Hummingbird            ¡Tengo un colibrí! dijo la flor. Me envuelve con su fino picoy su hiriente lengua. Me sacude con el batir incansable de sus alas.Palpito en su apurado corazón.Duermo sobre las alturas de su bosque. Yo, flor,descanso en la brillantez cegadorade sus plumas. Mi colibrís...
  • Bidaani’ Ruyadxie’ lii sica ruyadxi guragu’ guibá’,ribaque chaahue’ lii ndaani’ guiña candanaxhi guiriziñaguidilade’ ruxhele guirá guie’ bizeecabe lu xpidaane’ guirá nguiiu ne biulú zanda gueeda chiru ca’ naa yanna gueela’guenda nayeche’ xtinne’ cadá nisa.Ora riaa’ sa’ riguyaa’ ne pa guiaba nisaguie ladxidó’ guiba’ ribee yaande gadxeni rutiee lu xpidaane’ ne guielua’.Ora guiruche...
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