Showing posts from September, 2015

Poetry: What I Most Want by Jalâloddin Rumi

What I Most Want
by Jalâloddin Rumi

What I most want
is to spring out of this personality,
then to sit apart from the leaping.
I've lived too long where I can be reached.

Listen to my reading of "What I Most Want" below:

Photography: African-American Heritage Day Parade 2015

If you ask Mother, she will say I look like this sometimes.  She said she used to love taking photos when she was younger.  I used to think if someone looked sad, it meant they were unhappy.  -- Jane Odartey

An Encounter: Maybe Next Time

It was a beautiful late morning on Friday, almost 11:30am, and there I was several feet below ground under harsh florescent bulbs at the 7th Avenue subway in Manhattan––where the sweet sun above could not reach me––waiting for the E train back home to Queens. It was my second "early" morning in a row and I was focusing on the unfamiliar feeling of not being home at such an hour; partly so I could ignore the hunger pangs making a drum of my stomach. I had just been to Harlem to deliver some of my crocheted accessories  to be sold in a client's shop and was for that matter also enjoying a little mental party. So I was in a very good mood, despite my not so cheerful underground confinement.

Then a man came up to me. He had a cheerful bearded face under a baseball hat and a gray shirt with a message that I would have read had he not stopped too close before me and made eye contact. Smiling, he handed me a white sheet with a photocopied message. This is his poetry, he tells m…

Style: So Sun Soaked

More often than not I do my style shoots several days ahead but things sort of took over this week and loads of stuff went in a manner outside routine. So this afternoon I went to the park to shoot and what a lovely afternoon it was. A most ideal afternoon; breezy with a sweet enticing sunshine of perfect warmth. I felt so happy to be able to feel the wind play with my clothing and go through my hair. It felt like the world was alright; that it always had been and always will be, and I sung old songs from my elementary school days. A most splendid day; I am grateful to God for it.
Now, what am I wearing here? O_O The shirt is from Mother. I sometimes layer it with a skirt or my favorite pair of jeans. The bag is the same tote I had on with my tutu dress. I have gotten into the habit of holding it like a paper bag when I am not carrying too much. I love the minimized look and its feel in my hands. The chunky statement necklace is handmade by Nao of IKKX, a beautiful woman and a wonder…

Grad School Diary: On Being, Light, and Dark

The mornings I love because of their buoyancy. No matter how cloudy, there is still a celebratory buzz in wakings and stretchings and pretty vapors climbing from the first mug of tea or coffee or bowl of porridge: enchanting visuals and uplifting music. And yet a morning person I am not. It is the curse of love of sleep, not. It is that I function better at night when things feel more gentle. I suffer from nerves, not. (Please note that I am in very good humor hence my flamboyance.) But the night is dramatic and subdue. The quite of the dark, especially in warmer days when just the thought of the sun gives one a sunburn, is tranquilizing. The limitation in choices of what one can do keep distractions meek. Up early today because I could sleep not; my thoughts were with a short commentary on "being" that I am enjoying brainstorming for. The process is so active, quite hilarious actually, that I am keeping a little notebook around for when something jumps out into the light. …

Poetry: Substance, Shadow, and Spirit by T'ao Ch'ien

Substance, Shadow, and Spirit by T'ao Ch'ien
by T'ao Ch'ien

Substance to Shadow

Earth and heaven endure forever,
Streams and mountains never change.
Plants observe a constant rhythm,
Withered by frost, by dew restored.
But man, most sentient being of all,
In this is not their equal.
He is present here in the world today,
Then leaves abruptly, to return no more.
No one marks there's one man less––
Not even friends and family think of him;
The things that he once used are all that's left
To catch their eye and move them to grief.
I have no way to transcend change,
That it must be, I no longer doubt.
I hope you will take my advice:
When wine is offered, don't refuse.

Shadow to Substance

No use discussing immortality
When just to keep alive is hard enough.
Of course I want to roam in paradise,
But it's a long way there and the road is lost.
In all the time since I met up with you
We never differed in our grief and joy.
In shade we may have parted for a …

Photography: Essence Street Style Block Party 2015

Give me that tutu, you! ^_^ Love the purple hair. It looks edible. Note to self: should we ever decide to dye the hair, violet must be considered. OMG!!!! And let's leave it at that. O M G ! ! ! ! Olivia Dope! That is her name. I am sure the dope is a pseudonym but she owned it! Wonderful DJ, this one. Très brilliant. This is Mel B... And this one is Gabrielle Union. She was given the Essence Closet Crush award... And this is CYNTHIA! My partner in crime. She was so much fun! And very kind to help me hate on fat delicious looking pineapple drinks that were soaring all over the place. Fifteen freaking dollars each! Are you kidding me? What is this world coming to? But I am sure they were worth it for I still want that pineapple. Zeee crowd was as thick as that guy's afro in the third photo. Man. Cool as you please. The moment my eyes zoomed in on him I was compelled to ask for a photo. Noticed how he cuffed his pants? How wicked?! I love this photo. The people in the backgroun…

Opinion: On Feelings

Emotions are muddy waters, no? pain, hurt, lust, love, and even joy. The other day I woke up in one of those moods: the one which make one feel as though one can conquer the world. Where possibilities shine in every nook and beauty is in every cranny. By evening I was exhausted and crashed. It is not coffee because I do not drink it. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the feeling for it is not my usual state. Interestingly, one is often led to think that to reside in this state for eternity is bliss. But though one would argue that it is possible in moderation, I do not believe it. Not in this life as we know it. For knowing beauty is knowing ugliness. Feelings of being in possession of great abilities, such as one that makes us feel the world is conquerable, is knowing that there are days when breathing is painful enough. And it begs the question, why must anything be conquered? Taken by force, overcome? Why cannot things be good enough so there is no wish to change a thing, or t…

Grad School Diary: Tripping Through Literature

Image sent a poem-a-day a couple of weeks ago and of this poem I can neither recall title nor author. But as I was reading it, I noticed a reference to John Keats and I felt brilliant. Like being in on an inside joke sort of thing.  I could identify the allusion only because I had been reading Keats bio just the day before. Otherwise I would not have been able to identify it as such. A similar thing happened when I found myself looking through the second volume of an anthology on world literature that I bought for a college class some years back——I have found my anthologies from college very useful for my graduate studies. Carelessly flipping through the book, I came across Marie de France and I felt this funny emotion, not unlike running into a friend in a place full of strangers. I know Marie because I was so excited about going back to school that I bought my books ahead of time. Unfortunately when class started her Lais was no longer on the list of required books. But no matt…

Poetry: Sonnet by Dante Alighieri

by Dante Alighieri

Love and the gentle heart are one thing,
even as the sage affirms in his poem,
and so one can be without the other
as much as rational soul without reason.
Nature creates them when she is amorous:
Love as lord and the heart as his mansion,
in which, sleeping, he rests
sometimes a brief and sometimes a long season.
Beauty appears in a wise lady, then,
which so pleases the eyes that in the heart
is born a desire for that which pleases;
and so long it lasts sometimes therein
that it wakens the spirit of Love.
And the same to a lady does a worthy man.
*Translated from the Italian by Dino Cervini and Edward Vasta
 From The Norton Anthology of World Literature vol. b

Photography: On My Way

to School. -- Jane

Style: Wax Print Fever


Grad School Diary: After the Hiatus

It has been a whole year since I last went to class. But school has started and I am elated because I get to be part of it again. The extent of my happiness is such that I am not even complaining about the cost of books! (And that is one of my favorite things to complain about.)  I am taking a really interesting class on medieval literature; focusing on Dante's Purgatorio through a mysticism/philosophy lens. If you are back to school too, I wish you a most exciting and successful semester.

Poetry: Eye on the Scarecrow by Nathaniel Mackey

Eye on the Scarecrow
by Nathaniel Mackay

—“mu” twentieth part—

The way we lay
  we mimed a body
   of water. It was
this or that way
         the dead and we
       were them. No
     worried which...
       Millet beer made
 our legs go weak,
  our tongues. “The dead,”
       said, “are drowning
    of thirst,” gruff
     summons we muttered
  out loud in our
    It was a journey we
 were on, drawn-out
  scrawl we made a road
of, long huthereed hajj
    were on. Raw strip
   of cloth we now rode,
      wishful, letterless
        the ride we thumbed...
    Harp-headed ghost whose
      head we plucked incessantly.
 Bartered star.       Tethered

Photography: Dog Days

Maybe they go together.
But how is it a problem if they do not.

Opinion: Gratitude II

My last opinion post, "Gratitude" is  unconventional in that it reads like a complaint and brims with sarcasm. Not usually what one writes under the topic. Having been struggling with the definition of the complex emotion for some time now I allow myself some liberties. I would not contemplate it too closely in the past because I was afraid that should I do so, my world would collapse. I think myself very happy, but the foundation of this emotion rests heavily on thankfulness: for that which I have been blessed with——a lot. A heavy awareness of what I have been  given and a sense of burden on how overwhelming it all is. But how do I define gratitude? It is being able to see what we are, as the generosity of that which is greater than ourselves. It is knowing that all we possess, and that which we inhabit, and that which we hope for are but precious gifts. Health is priceless as is the ability to feel, to be, to taste, to breathe, to laugh, to hear the music of pain in words…