Latest Scribblings

Medusa Asks a Question

What kinda man can love
a flawed woman once
she is unpretty, but powerful,
and can calcify your ass
with one look?

Howard Zinn

I just heard that Howard Zinn, author of the hugely important A Peoples' History of the United States, has died. I used his book when I taught U.S. History to high school seniors, and I was just talking about purchasing the children's version of this book for my ten year old son. So thankful for Zinn's work. So sad about his passing.

Writers on Obama's First Year

Laila Lalami and Junot Diaz have both written pieces that assess Obama's first year. Read Lalami's "Hope but no Change" here, and Diaz's "Storyteller-in-Chief" here.

The Hurt Locker

We're moving into year seven of our war with Iraq. I haven't cared for most of the Iraq war movies that have come out even when I agreed with the film's politics. The Hurt Locker is different. It's a suspenseful and well-told story that gets down to the human level and engages you with the characters. I loved it. I came across a poem last night by Brian Turner that shares the same title as the film. Ironically, I was scanning the titles of various poetry collections, studying how others title their work, because I have such a hard time coming up with good titles.

The Hurt Locker

Nothing but hurt left here.
Nothing but bullets and pain
and the bled-out slumping
and all the fucks and goddamns
and Jesus Christs of the wounded.
Nothing left here but the hurt.

Believe it when you see it.
Believe it when a twelve-year-old
rolls a grenade into the room.
Or when a sniper punches a hole
deep into someone's skull.
Believe it when four men
step from a taxicab in Mosul
to shower the street in brass
and fire. Open the hurt locker
and see what there is of knives
and teeth. Open the hurt locker and learn
how rough men come hunting for souls.

--from Here, Bullet, copyright 2005 by Brian Turner

Chinua + Chimamanda

Salon has an article up that is written by one of my favorite writers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It's a reprint of her introduction to Chinua Achebe's The African Trilogy: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God that is now available through Everyman's Library. In the piece she talks about "the strangeness of seeing oneself distorted in literature--and indeed of not seeing oneself at all." This is a topic she also addressed in her Ted Talk titled "The Danger of a Single Story."

Back to Blogging

I've been away from blogging for a while and spent much needed time writing. I was in "the zone" during the Christmas holidays and found it hard to resurface in January to do normal things like go to work or comb my hair. At times, I felt a ping of guilt about not updating my blog but I find it difficult to listen to both the public voices in the media and to the voices of my fictional characters. My characters won, they always do. I wanted to blog most following the earthquake in Haiti but following the story as it developed has been instructive to me about our media and celebrity culture, how at times it thrives on tragedy to have a headline. I think the most useful narratives will come later after some time has passed, when we hear from those who lived through the earthquake. I cannot imagine living beneath rubble for 7 to 10 days and living to tell that story.

Books that I read over the holidays: The Book of Night Women by Marlon James; A Question of Freedom by R. Dwayne Betts; the beginning of The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (had to get it back to the library); Arc and Hue by Tara Betts; Psalm of the Sunflower by Antoinette Brim; Pulling Scabs by Curtis L. Crisler. I loved each one of these books and will write more on this later.

Yep, it was a good holiday full of reading and writing, which means that today I am feeling optimistic and ready to move onward.

Quotes: Martin Luther King, Jr.

A friend, Vickie, asked people to post MLK quotes as Facebook updates in celebration of King's birthday. This quote was kind of long for Facebook, but appropriate given the mean rhetoric about Haiti that we heard this week from Pat Robertson:

"...any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the economic conditions that damn the soul, the social conditions that corrupt men, and the city governments that cripple them, is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr. from The Measure of a Man