Things I Didn't Know I Loved*

* If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in! Come in!

(Shel Silverstein)

February 28, 2006


Alaa al-Aswany

'In Egypt and in the Arab world, being a novelist doesn't mean you can make your living from your writing. Before HarperCollins [decided to publish the translated version for wide release in Britain], what I got from The Yacoubian Building I consider as covering the price of the cigarettes and coffee I bought while I was writing it.'

Interesting writer, but a few dodgily-worded remarks: 'Writing is a part of our battle for democracy' and 'For the past two decades Egypt has adopted...a very closed, not at all tolerant - a kind of Taliban interpretation [of Islam]'. Is Alaa polishing potentially profitable* Western apples, or is that just my cynicism getting the better of me again?

Read Al-Aswany's hot-off-the-press interview with The Guardian.

*no alliteration intended

February 27, 2006


Gwendolyn Brooks

We Real Cool


'We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.'

Not to just be read.
Listen to the author (singing/chanting/jazzing) it.

February 26, 2006


Wanda Coleman

Bedtime Story

bed calls. i sit in the dark in the living room
trying to ignore them

in the morning, especially Sunday mornings
it will not let me up. you must sleep
longer, it says

facing south
the bed makes me lay heavenward on my back
while i prefer a westerly fetal position
facing the wall

the bed sucks me sideways into it when i
sit down on it to put on my shoes. this
persistence on its part forces me to dress in
the bathroom where things are less subversive

the bed lumps up in anger springs popping out to
scratch my dusky thighs

my little office sits in the alcove adjacent to
the bed. it makes strange little sighs
which distract me from my work
sadistically i pull back the covers
put my typewriter on the sheet and turn it on

the bed complains that i'm difficult duty
its slats are collapsing. it bitches when i
blanket it with books and papers. it tells me
it's made for blood and bone

lately spiders ants and roaches
have invaded it searching for food

Sound familiar?

February 25, 2006


John Hegley

'poetry - language on a spree
I want to be
a leaf on the poetree
poetry is good for me
I think I'll have some for my tea'

Read more on dogs and glasses...

oh, and let's not forget potatoes.

February 24, 2006


Nazim Hikmet

The name of this blog is taken from a poem of the same title by Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet.

A little taste:

'it's 1962 March 28th
I'm sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don't like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn't know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn't worked the earth love it
I've never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love


I've written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I'm going to the shadow play

Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way

maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather's hand
his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
with a sable collar over his robe
and there's a lantern in the servant's hand
and I can't contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadikoy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky...'

Read the rest.


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