now luscious, purple figs
Looking for Omar
E. Ethelbert Miller
In partnership with Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, Dr. Maya Angelou, and the Target Corporation, the Poetry Foundation has developed curriculum for teaching essential African American poetry to students of all ages.What a great resource for teaching poetry with children! There is a list there with links to a poem a day for the month of April, National Poetry Month. The above poem by E. Ethelbert Miller is listed there. Check out the others here.
Spark: I know you admire African American quilts. Do you only collect quilts made by African Americans?
SM: I've broadened out a bit. As long as a quilt is improvisational, as long it goes beyond repeating the same old pattern, it's interesting to me. I like asymmetry; I like it when they run out of cloth and have to do something else that doesn't match. Recently I bought a quilt that has all the aspects I admire about African American quilts, but it was made by a Polish woman in the 1920's. Others that are anonymous I buy because they have that aesthetic—changing the pattern, not static—I'm not the quilt fancier who says, "Oh, look at the small stitches." I appreciate everybody's quilts, but the small stitches don't interest me at all. I'm more interested in the ones quilted with string, or large stitches going across as fast as they can.
I got the Esther Mack quilt in Chicago. I eventually sold it to the University, at cost, to the African American Studies department. It's there in their quilt room in an acid free box; you can go and look at it, and it would have a little bit of history on Esther Mack—the little bit that I knew—perhaps if she had come from Mississippi, where she was born, or about how old she was when I got the quilt (in the mid or late 80's). I would sleep under every quilt that I bought, at least once. That was part of the research I did to write about them, feel their weight, their specific warmth; they really don't feel alike, the different ways that they press on you. This was one of the first quilt poems I wrote. I was certainly worried about making them [the poems] work; I didn't know if I could.
Isn't that fascinating? Here is one of the poems she wrote about that particular quilt:
Esther Mack's Utility Quilt with the
Lights in It
When Esther Mack ignited her first star
from exhausted aprons, she slept
with the weight of that star on her right foot,
just where she could kick it into space.
A pair of purer, one-color shinings
floated where her husband breathed.
The rest of the quilt she spangled with squares
to clash and keep the three big suns awake.
Always, at some hour, the tired star would say to her,
boost me up into the darkness--
Eligibility requirements are as follows: You must be a fan of Debt-Proof Living, Everyday Cheapskate, MRDS (this blog)—embracing the credo (which of course you know by heart … “Bringing dignity to the art of living below your means”) and be willing to challenge yourself in the Olympic spirit. It won’t hurt if you are also somewhat obsessive and willing to play along.
1. DPL Olympians are required to begin a personal financial project during the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, and finish before the flame is extinguished.
2. Participants come up with their own events, which must require some level of sacrifice and difficulty while still being possible to attain. Suggestions: No spending for 17 days (the mother of all challenges, for sure); depositing $10 a day into a real savings account, holding a garage sale, or eating only the food you have on hand. You get the idea. (For ideas, go HERE for a current list of participants and the events they’ve selected.)
3. The DPL Gold Medal Certificate will be awarded to all who report to the group that they finished their event and reached their goal. The honor system will prevail.
"What should I do?" Lizzy looked around as the soldiers and wagons started moving out. "What am I going to do?"
"Girl, you can go on with some folks who gonna try to make it North," a woman said. "Or you can stay with the soldiers and help them do what they want. They always need somebody to cook and mend."
Lizzy looked to where the black soldiers had gone down a road, seeing them turn and disappear around a bend. She couldn't see around the bend, or know what she was going to find when she got around it, but she knew she had to find out.
She ran as fast as she could, her feet slapping against the hard road. When she got around the bend, the men were still in sight, tall and proud. She followed them, never looking back."
"Pilates changes the body from the inside out. The key to success is using your mind as well as your body. In Pilates you won't tune out. Instead, every movement, every repetition, is performed with concentration and mental control. You will learn to tune in to exactly what your body is doing and not doing, what is moving and what is not moving.
Your body will gain new wisdom. What begins as a thought or visualization in your mind is relayed via new neuromuscular connections that trigger your muscles to respond. Sometimes the muscles are called upon to make movements that, though almost imperceptible to the eye, are the very essence of the work."