I covered a poetry reading last night at Silvana, a Middle Eastern bar in Harlem. Rachida Madani, a Moroccan poet, was making the first stop on her American book tour for her collection Tales of a Severed Head— a feminist remix of One Thousand and One Nights.
Later, squatting on the floor near her table in the bar’s blue light as the next live band set up, I interviewed her on her work.
“Il y a un lien entre les femmes,” she said. There’s a connection among women.
“My poetry isn’t just about Moroccan women. It’s about the female condition in general.”
This line from a poem in Tales of a Severed Head sticks with me:
She watches the ocean
she would like to hurl herself into the ocean
to drink up the ocean.
But suddenly all her tattoos
return to set themselves in place
and they all begin to speak at once.
All at once she finds
the green and blue legends
inscribed on her flesh.
Now she is standing facing the backwash
her eyes are dry
her mouth is a fold.
Now she leaves the cliff
and goes away…
Now she goes toward her own justice.
(Rachida Madani, Tales of a Severed Head, 2012, Yale University Press)
A few more days
A final Hi meeting
The local neighborhood bar has a quiet time between six and nine. It is a place that specializes in coffee, beer and seasonal menus. There is just enough of each for a satisfying snack and effective buzz. After the time when the laptop lids close and before the social gatherings start -- there is a sort of twilight*. Often this time is a fugitive ground rife with creative inspiration and meditative work -- of the kind that results in personal reward.*twilight may refer to civil, nautical or astronomical variety depending on your social or terrestrial condition
A man positions his mouse on the edge of his browser window. He clicks, holds and drags the viewport first left then right. The content of a video game promo micro site responds and adapts to the available space. To the man, this is more delightful than the game itself.
A man laboriously moves his piano down three levels onto the subway platform. Classic vocals and strided chords -- he played so well I swore he was blind. Oblivious to the heat on that August stage, he was most in touch with his audience -- whom he elevated with his music.
A woman should do exactly as she pleases no matter what a man may think.
As the Dalai Lama once said, "It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room."
"No one understands me," she said. Her grandmother was silent for a minute. It seemed she was searching for an answer in the star speckled sky. "But no one understands anyone in this world, darling. We are all unique. It is what gives us a sense of wonder."