Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

Please join me with your comments and make this a dialogue . . . and visit Susan's Poetry!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A reflection on revisiting La Mama Ellen

Today at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads in Kerry's Play It Again Toads! one of the options is to repeat the Get Famous prompt for which I wrote the poem La Mama Ellen two years ago.  It's about international innovator Ellen Stewart of La MaMA Theatre Club in the East Village of NYC.  I reread that poem just now and find that I need make very few alterations to like it as much as ever and to publish it again. You can read it HERE.

The funny thing is that Ellen Stewart came up in a conversation last night when I explained to a friend that the most important personal progress I made in the last three decades was to recognize that my theatre work/art, feminism, and religion/faith were one and the samethat I find they are together now in my writing.  As we were talking, I realized that it was at La Mama that I lived the unity of the three that I was only able to dissect and understand a few years ago.  That, indeed, I had articulated itthough not in these exact words—on almost every page of my 500+ page dissertation.  When Mama Ellen had read it, she called me in Virginia to tell me that it would never get published.  She knew in 1989 what I would not learn until 1999.   I did not get tenure.  Now the event of leaving academia hardly matters to me. In fact it seems as right as the leading that took me to and through my PhD in the first place.  

Here I am.  Teaching at the college level and later in high school were both spiritual leadings that engaged me as completely as had every passion in my life.  I am a lucky person.  Writing is still the way that I think and examine, but it has taken the driver's seat rather than the back seat of the journey. I am writing about the link among spirit, politics and performance in a novel.  I have been limping along at it, often pushing it aside to write poetry instead. 

Today's revelations give that endeavor life. Today's thoughts resuscitate my passion for it.  I love the fresh air!



Friday, June 13, 2014

il gatto with nine lines

The Most Amazing Cats of Guido Vedovato!
See them here:  

In her blog Stelladilatta of 11/7/2013,  GIO writes:  "Guido Vedovato was born in 1961 in Vicenza. Self-taught, he began his artistic cariera in 1970, is a naive painter and sculptor. Its ...."


Guido Vedovato in his studio
CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

I first saw Vedovato's work today in Fireblossom Friday: The Art of Guido Vedovato at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, where the prompt is to write a poem inspired by his art.  His cats are unlike any I have seen before.  Go and look at them!  Here are my impressions:



il gatto
with nine lines


The solidity of its rising
over city scapes and its settling
into landscapes and rabbit barrows

Its weightiness hollowing welcome
from sofa and chair cushions, soft laps
and cardboard boxes—its hair blessing

Trees praise its loyalty; and a bird
dares charm it with song, training its tail
to dance snakelike in fields and hedgerows




Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast

~

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A 13-year-old boy named Eugene Goostman

     Today in the  Gizmodo.com article "A Computer Program Has Passed the Turing Test For the First Time,"  I learned that a computer has convinced a room full of human judges that it is a 13-year-old boy named Eugene Goostman.  At this moment the article already has 169 comments after only 8 hours on Facebook.  Many are concerned with the possible implications for cyber crime.  I am thinking of science fiction warnings from great writers like Kurt Vonnegut, and the implications for the human race.  I am thinking of Hitler and other attempts to purify race.  I am asking what steps toward peace destroy reasons to live?  Here is my poem in progress. In addition to the 2 versions below, I made a 13-line version for my prompt at Poets United:  Midweek Motif ~ The Number 13.  I hope I made it become more scary, a one-page horror film of a poem.

Thirteen (revised)
(read the final 13-line version HERE.)


Thirteen year-old intelligence is
quicksand and popcorn tricks,
fertile ground for video fashion
consumerism and hiding in conformity
as if self-doubt were bi-product
of the best days of opening,
puberty and bar mitzvah

Thirteen, she wants to walk through eighth grade
graduation unscathed--and
thirteen, they plug in a boy named
Eugene Goostman to fool human
engineer judges into believing he is
real as she, he too remembers the wounds
of junior high school competition

Picture a film combining the Thirteen
of piercings and hormones and
the thirteen of computer
intelligence cloned and  cloned
to replace the thirteens we birth
with ones of reason and angelic cleanliness,
requiring only oil and puffs of air, not food

Nor ice cream nor growing pains
nor parental pride, hugs, laughter—
a teen still learning, but not dance
nor how to be resilient
not youth who gets sick, costs money
or battles morality to discover what he or she
believes in with brain and heart

Picture a world in which corporate
wealth no longer needs life
to create life and to trudge
obediently to sweat shops
Picture a world in which tests determine
humanity’s worth as in today's schools
but without accidents of birth

Don't be fooled by promises of
more humane work, less abuse
and better working conditions—
think instead of empty homes
and upper classes deciding
to eliminate the rest, to smooth out popcorn
problems under the quicksand of greed.



Thirteen  (original)


Thirteen year-old intelligence is quicksand and popcorn tricks,
fertile ground for video fashion consumerism and
hiding in conformity as if self-doubt were bi-product
of the best days of opening, puberty and bar mitzvah

Thirteen, she wants to walk through eighth grade graduation unscathed
thirteen, plugs in a boy named Eugene Goostman fooling human
engineer judges into believing he is real as she
and remembers the wounds of junior high school competitions

Picture a film combining the thirteen of piercings and hormones
and the thirteen of computer intelligence cloned and  cloned
to replace the thirteens we birth with reason and angelic
cleanliness, requiring only oil and puffs of air, not food

Not ice cream nor growing pains nor parental pride, hugs, laughter—
A child still learning, but not dance or how to be resilient
Not one who gets sick, costs money, or battles morality
to discover what he or she believes in with brain and heart

Picture a world in which corporate wealth no longer needs life
to create life and to trudge obediently to sweat shops
Picture a world in which tests determine humanity’s worth
Like today's schools, but eliminating accidents of birth

Don't be fooled by promises of more humane work, less abuse
and better working conditions--think instead of empty homes
and upper classes deciding to eliminate the rest
smoothing out the popcorn problems under the quicksand of greed.

There has to be another way to peace besides breaking faith
and eliminating spirit, besides destroying warring 
nations, besides erasing God altogether and merging
all disagreement to make lives both easier and sterile.




Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast




Saturday, June 7, 2014

Maya Angelou Memorial Service: "A Celebration of Rising Joy"

The service I attended via Livestream this morning is available to watch!  It is full of sincere gratitude and love.  If anyone has been hurt by Maya Angelou, I hope they can forgive her in light of all she was and is.  A human being.  She was a messenger, and her messages are still here.



The service begins at 29:07 minutes.  
This morning, I  used the first 15 minutes or so to settle and invite God in.  Start where you will and enjoy the positive memories of many people who talk, sing and give thanks.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Speechless

Once upon a time, I won a Fulbright-Hayes Grant to travel for 4 weeks with a group of USA teachers in southern Mexico.  We studied how the old and the new co-existed and enriched each other in order to create new curriculum for our classrooms.  For our protection, we stayed together in good hotels, drank only bottled water, and stuck with the program rather than wandering off by ourselves.  The program was jam-packed and well-planned to avoid the stereotypical.  I saw a Mexico that I never knew existed from amazing food and hospitality through knowledge of the past and innovation for the future.  I also saw Zapatista and government forces, both armed and ready.  I especially loved the native healing, clothing, writing, and languages I met in San Cristobal where the story of this poem takes place.  The world speaks of these diverse peoples as Mayans.


The 4-year old and I put fingers at
our own lips and stared at each other.  We
had the same vocabulary—me in
a new language and she as newer life.

I thought she’d never seen such ignorance
in adults and I ducked my head, shyly
offering her té de manzanilla,
my drink of choice in plaza del pueblo
Jovel—
 
San Cristóbal de las Casas—

I loved the feel of these words and the tastes
and sounds of Jovel.  The child was ready
to join me at my table for tea, but
she froze abruptly when el camero
rushed to kick her out.  I asserted She.
Is. My. Guest.  Bring her tea and—
I pointed

out menu items to her, asking Si?
Si? until she said Yes. And I ordered
two, one for her and one for su Madre
who watched from her post low on the sidewalk.
I bowed to Mother while Daughter brought her
food, and stood until the child returned.  Then
we began our Spanish-English lesson. 

Yes, they were beggars and I was tourist-
quarry, but I could not eat with Euro-
Americans and Spanish-Mexicans
high above unwelcome Indo-Natives.
I felt ashamed and exposed. I gained a
language coach and memorable day.
No, I don’t remember her name or our
words.  In her language, I remain speechless. 



Written for Brian's MeetingTheBar ~ When words fail at dVerse Poets Pub.

Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

You are not alone

Today at Poets United, I invited poets to write on the motif of protest, and I find words pouring out of me.  Here are some of my thoughts, written as a poem, but not, really.  Even Allen Ginsberg uses images, allusions, figures of speech.  This morning I have been thinking of Mohommad Ali's refusal to fight against people of color in Asia, his political and personal action of becoming a CO (Conscientious Objector) during the US Vietnam War.  And I am thinking of basking in the love of God while knowing what goes on in the world.  God loves everyone!  And so why, and why and why ...? And then, last night in my Buddies of Jesus group a very savvy young woman asked me what CR was.


The Personal is Political.
Again and again.
Not just in the CR groups of 1970's feminism.
Again and again.
What’s CR? you ask, and I will tell you,
Again and again, that it’s
Consciousness raising. And that’s not therapy, but
again and again
discovering the commonplaceness of experience
again and again rising
from what we might think is isolated and personal.

You were laid off? Look around at union breaking
and unemployment and ask “Who benefits?” again and again.
You live near a chem-dump? Look around at dump sites
and clusters of poverty and ask “Who benefits?” again and again.
You lost a son to a bullet? Look around at who
and where and ask “Who benefits?” again and again.
Your neighborhood school closed? Look around at public
schools and education and ask “Who benefits?”
Again and again and again
the personal pain no longer obscures that it is political
racism, classism and yetwe must move isms aside to see.

You ask what CR is and I’ll tell you
Again and again, that it’s
Consciousness raising. And that’s not therapy, but
again and again
discovering the commonplaceness of experience
again and again rising
from what we might think is isolated and personal
to making the connections, one small group at a time
again and again learning the power of the group
to stand up, stand up to power
again and again, and never alone
You are not alone.


Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast