Showing posts from June, 2015

Personal Style: The First Kameez

Ever since I saw my first Indian movie around the age of eight or nine I have been wanting, very badly, my own Sari. And I will get one as soon as I win the lotto. Or come into good money. I went to Jackson Heights, only an hour or so walk away, (yes I could have taken the train but it was a beautiful day) to get some spices to make a super spicy masala chai I have been craving. Right next to the spice shop were several Indian clothing shops. I tried so hard to walk away, but ended up in one, then I tried so hard to walk out without buying anything, and ended up exiting with my first Salwar Kameez. And here I am wearing the Kameez. I love it! The Salwar (pajama pants) are very awesome, too. Loose and comfortable. But I didn't want to wear them together. 
My earrings are from a Parisian client/friend. She sent them to me for Christmas and they came in January. So I got an early Christmas this year.  The cool thing about them is that I would never have bought something like that mysel…

Book Review: Claire of the Sea Light

If upon reading the title of Edwidge Danticat's novel Claire of the Sea Light your mind conjures words like poetry and fairytale, the same happened to me. But if you consider the main character, a child, whose first cry might as well have been for the dead body she came from, had she known anything about the world she was in, the idea of the fairytale is pushed back for the hope of an enchanting ending. The beginning chapter definitely does nothing to promote the idea that Claire is a princess. She is born in a shack and her name sake, the one who wanted her more than anything, who would have fed her and taught her all she knew about being a woman, was gone before she would even learn to say mama.  But there is Madame Gaëlle, the fabric shop owner her father is hoping would adopt her. Is she the fairy godmother then? If so, we learn earlier that Claire runs away from her. Apparently she preferred  her father, pauper and all, to the fancy and wealthier Madame Gaëlle.  It was only …

Poetry: American Smooth by Rita Dove

American Smooth
by Rita Dove

We were dancing—it must have
been a foxtrot or a waltz,
something romantic but
requiring restraint,
rise and fall, precise
execution as we moved
into the next song without
stopping, two chests heaving
above a seven-league
stride—such perfect agony,
one learns to smile through,
ecstatic mimicry
being the sine qua non
of American Smooth.
And because I was distracted
by the effort of
keeping my frame
(the leftward lean, head turned
just enough to gaze out
past your ear and always
smiling, smiling),
I didn’t notice
how still you’d become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
four?)—achieved flight,
that swift and serene
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down. 

Listen to my reading of "American Smooth" below:

Photography: On a Summer Night

the fireflies are out -- Jane

Opinion: Liking Yourself

Though I have sort of stuck to aloneness for most of my life, it is now becoming apparent to me that the basis of some attitudes that I have considered odd are owing to my little desire to impress others. The other side of this coin is that what I find impressive is simply based on what I think worthy rather than what I am told is. This is ordinary enough that it should have been apparent to me, but I see now that the reason it was not is because my idea of the remarkable is often different from that of the status quo.  For instance I am not impressed by fame nor by wealth. I know these things are exciting and mean something in terms of comfort and happiness but I do not find them attractive. I am impressed by different kinds of behaviors and intelligence. I am interested in people who are different from me, I am curious about how they live based on their definitions. I think now that I have always felt a higher need to like myself more than to have others like me. This is probably w…

Personal Style: Floral Atop Stripes

Once in JSS (junior high equivalent) I was waiting for a very good friend (now married with children!) to walk to the bus stop when my very light-skinned classmate stepped in front of me. She looked at me for a few seconds and said, "Jane, use the same cream you use on your body also on your face." I assured her that I did. I used Vaseline from hair to toe. This incident remained with me because I thought it a very strange advice to give. I however did not think to ask why. But sometime back in college I came to notice what she meant. My face is darker than the rest of my body. Growing up I avoided mirrors at first because I was neither conscious nor interested in my looks, then because my grandmother had a way of always being present whenever I found myself appraising my reflection and she would tease and call me vain. For years, every time I looked in the mirror, I felt Nana's eyes watching and laughing and I hurried. I noticed the difference in my skin complexion becau…

Book Review: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

It is funny how when we look back through memory things shift into such perspective that we are easily able to identify specific decisions and moments which made great impacts on our lives. I have been reading some posts from Brain Pickings and it seems this is a general feeling. When I switched my major from Business Management to English Literature my life literally changed. I felt it did because of the fear and excitement that filled me up. Looking back now I see that it was the first "crazy" life decision I made. It bought me the courage to delve into poetry, discover photography, read some inspiring minds, make some lifelong friends, submit my poems for publication, start this blog, and start Mawusi. It was through this first audacious move in college that I met Marilynne Robinson's Ruthie in Housekeeping. Even before I opened the page, I loved the image on the cover. It would come to mind, in grad school, when I learn about the sublime.  Introducing the novel, my

Poetry: XVII (I do not love you...) by Pablo Neruda

XVII (I do not love you...)
by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Listen to my reading of "XVII" below:

Photography: A Saturday on the High Line

toes press into soles moving feet  bond to leg we move to I alone in we the wind through leaves the sun through leaves the sound of light  in chatter with crickets in after noon swish swish fabric between skin and late spring sips from past into present continuously ending a gift in time of senses in time of ignorance in time of desire in time of being in time of time -- Jane

Opinion: Please Explain Yourself

It's beautiful out this Saturday and only 1:38pm. After this draft, I will jump out of my PJs get into my overalls and go to the High Line. Actually, I want to see the new Whitney and I am trying to see whether or not I can afford a ticket. 
Had I not added those first two sentences, you would not know the time I originally wrote this post (which I am publishing on a Sunday morning) and what my thoughts were. Have you come across those cool and seemingly liberating quotes that say something like "learn to say no without explaining yourself"? I remember seeing one and quickly pinning it on my "Coffee" board on Pinterest. Yes, I thought, it would be indeed awesome to not have to explain myself. So I figured I would give it a try.

Here is the thing, for people you care nothing for, maybe it is OK to say no and just walk away. But I found that it tore me apart a little. Maybe because I always feel rejections so deeply I am a little more sensitive about taking it fo…

Personal Style: Dashiki Caftan + Flannel

hat - maybe marshals [also here] vest - thrifted flannel - sears caftan - Mother's hand-me-down crochet bag - mawusi brooch - mawusi bead bracelet - boy beads yarn & fabric bracelets - mawusi shoes - lands' end
Cheers! Jane ^_^

Book Review: Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

Before Ghana Must Go, Taiye Selasi's essay, "Bye-Bye Babar" made me a fan of her writing and wit. If you have read this blog long enough you know I am fascinated by death. I knew, therefore, that I was reading the right book when it begun with, "Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise, his slippers by the doorway to the bedroom like dogs." A poetic beginning punctuated with several questions. If you suffer a severe sense of curiosity (good for you), I do not, you will want to know who Kweku is, why he is dead and why it is so important it must be the first thing we read. We are welcomed to a funeral rather than a birth. Being Ghanaian, I recognize the name Kweku as that which is given to an Ashante boy born on a Wednesday. He came on Wednesday and left on Sunday. There is something beautiful about that and I thought of  Dylan Thomas' famous poem, "Do not go gently into that good night."Is that what happened? Did Kweku fight off death throu…

Poetry: Fact and Fancy by H.P. Lovecraft

Fact and Fancy
by H.P. Lovecraft

How dull the wretch, whose philosophic mind
Disdains the pleasures of fantastic kind;
Whose prosy thoughts the joys of life exclude,
And wreck the solace of the poet’s mood!
Young Zeno, practic’d in the Stoic’s art,
Rejects the language of the glowing heart;
Dissolves sweet Nature to a mess of laws;
Condemns th’ effect whilst looking for the cause;
Freezes poor Ovid in an ic’d review,
And sneers because his fables are untrue!
In search of Truth the hopeful zealot goes,
But all the sadder tums, the more he knows!
Stay! vandal sophist, whose deep lore would blast
The graceful legends of the story’d past;
Whose tongue in censure flays th’ embellish’d page,
And scolds the comforts of a dreary age:
Would’st strip the foliage from the vital bough
Till all men grow as wisely dull as thou?
Happy the man whose fresh, untainted eye
Discerns a Pantheon in the spangled sky;
Finds Sylphs and Dryads in the waving trees,
And spies soft Notus in the southern breeze;

Photography: 1:54 New York

Attending 1:54 New York is one of the best things I did this spring.  Above are some of my favorite works.  Artists from top to bottom: Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze Ransome Stanley Olu Amoda Conrad Botes Soly Cissé -- Jane