Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Como Tú (Like You)

I'm going to end National Poetry month with this lovely poem called "Like You" by El Salvador's Roque Dalton Garcia. I've been getting my ESL students to read English translations of poems by people from their native lands and I've had several of my El Salvadorian students read Roque's poem. One student liked it so much that he read it a second time and then insisted that I read the Spanish version. He corrected my pronunciation on one of the words and gave me a "muy bien!" when I finished. It was definitely a treat. Check out "Like You" or "Como Tú."

Like You
by Roque Dalton
(Translated by Jack Hirschman)

Like you I
love love, life, the sweet smell
of things, the sky --
blue landscape of January days.

And my blood boils up
and I laugh through eyes
that have known the buds of tears.
I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.

And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
little things,
landscape and bread,
the poetry of everyone.

And here it is in the original Spanish:

Como Tú
por Roque Dalton

Yo como tú
amo el amor,
la vida,
el dulce encanto de las cosas
el paisaje celeste de los días de enero.

También mi sangre bulle
y río por los ojos
que han conocido el brote de las lágrimas.
Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan,
de todos.

Y que mis venas no terminan en mí,
sino en la sangre unánime
de los que luchan por la vida,
el amor,
las cosas,
el paisaje y el pan,
la poesía de todos.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Press Toward the Mark or De En Ob De Race

Here's a good word that Sister Cheryl gave me today:

Philippians 3:12-14

As Paul said, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

And here's that same message in the beloved Gullah language:

A ain say A done do all wa God wahn me fa do, an A ain say A done come fa be all wa A oughta be een God eye. Bot A da try wid all me haat fa mek dat prize me own, cause Jedus Christ done mek me e own. Me Christian bredren, fa sho, A ain yet win dat prize. A ain all wa A oughta be een God eye. Bot one ting A da do. A da do all dat A able fa do fa git ta wa dey head ob me. A ain pay no mind ta nottin dat done pass. A da try wid all me haat fa git ta de end ob de race, so dat A kin git de prize, fa lib een heaben weh Jedus Christ da call me fa lib wid um.

God Bless You Cheryl!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Poem: High Priestess

High Priestess
by Alicia Benjamin

I’m a painter
My name is High Priestess
I break the glass
Draw no souls in boxes
I shatter
You to

Monday, April 20, 2009

Slavery by Another Name

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas A. Blackmon is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner in the General Nonfiction category. Read about Blackmon's deftly crafted book here.

The Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama this year goes to Lynn Nottage for her play, Ruined, featured here on Cappuccino Soul in December.

Congratulations to these gifted writers!

Fugitive/Die Hard Screenwriter Featured at Charlotte Film Event

Here's an e-mail that I received that will be of interest to all you "film folks" in the Charlotte area. I hope to see you there!

Hi all,

It’s me again, inviting you to “film people,” an awesome event on Tuesday night, April 21st, part of CPCC’s ArtsFest week. (It's free!)

Please come, bring your friends, and join Charlotte’s “film people” as they welcome Jeb Stuart, the screenwriter of such classic Hollywood hits as "Die Hard" and "The Fugitive.” Jeb has many additional blockbuster screen credits to his name, and recently produced and directed "Blood Done Sign My Name" right here in the greater Charlotte area.

Also appearing is H. Blake Edwards, the young man from Charlotte whose short film Perfecto just won a major YouTube competition, providing him and his crew an opportunity to be a part of the Sundance Film Festival.

Beth Petty, Rick Eldridge, and Bert Hesse will also be back again with new and exciting productions that were all produced here in Charlotte. Cindy Castano will emcee the event. She is an award-winning documentarian as well as a global humanitarian. Francis Shepherd senior systems engineer for Apple.

And not to be missed are the “Film of the Year “awards to CPCC’s own talented film/video students. Please come and give them the chance they deserve to screen their work in front of a real audience. Again, it’s on Tuesday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m., in the prestigious Halton Theater.

You can meet each of these professionals after the show. They are ready for your questions. Come early to get a seat.

We’ll be there, to say hello…… “film people”…….

Thanks for caring,

George Cochran
CPCC Film/Video Instructor

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tales from a Survivor

Please read this post about domestic violence at The Angry Black Woman's site. It's powerful stuff!

This comment on the post mentioned above, by a knowledgeable mediator, gives great insight into the phenomena of abusers who never actually raise a hand. The commenter works with domestive violence victims and abusers regularly.

Shara says:

Thanks for this post - these things can’t be reiterated enough. I work at a mediation center and spend a lot of time screening mediation referrals for domestic violence, and it is so much more about power and control than it is about actual violence. Not to say that violence isn’t a major issue -- it is, but many of the most effective abusers never/rarely have to raise a hand, because they have such a tight level of control on the victim, who often doesn’t even self-identify as a “victim of domestic violence” because of limited understanding of what domestic violence entails.

I’ve been doing domestic violence screening for nearly 4 years now, and often its obvious from a history of orders of protection and police calls that there is a problem, but for the other cases (where its never gotten on the radar of courts or law enforcement), an important “warning sign” that I’ve learned to recognize involves the way that the man (usually it IS a man, although I’ve seen it go the other way) engages in conversation. The power and control issues often come out - even in a seemingly casual conversation -- as domestic violence offenders authoritatively but subtly (artfully) control the course of the conversation, often speaking in absolutes that casually negate any other possible point of view than their own, shut down particular paths of dialogue (unilaterally switching gears without acknowledging why), and firmly and smoothly try to replace the options that are available with a different set of options that they are willing to consider. I’ve noticed this in my screening at work, and its made it a lot easier to spot potential power-n-control jerks outside of work too.

Knoxville, TN has a really great resource called The Family Justice Center. Back before the FJC was around, a DV victim seeking resources might have to make between ten and twenty stops to different places to get the different kinds of help she needs to get out of a bad situation. There was one place for the shelter, another for clothing and food, another for custody assistance, another for orders of protection, another for counseling, another to deal with the needs of traumitized children, another to develop a safety plan for leaving the home, another to deal with pets, etc. Basically, it was nearly logistically impossible for a woman who is being controlled and monitored to have made all those trips to all those places, and it was a major problem. The Family Justice Center now has 40 agencies under one roof, and the woman just has to show up and go through an intake, and she stays in one room and the service agencies all come to HER, while she gets to watch her children, who are looked after by staff, in the next room. It really is a model that works well, and is very victim-centric and takes into account the need for a woman to have a serious amount of support when she’s planning on leaving a bad situation (or if she’s having trouble AFTER or BEFORE leaving). I don’t know how many other places are using a model like that, but its an amazing resource.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taking a Little Trip to the Moon

April is National Poetry Month so I've decided to introduce some of my students to the poets of their native countries. This has also been an opportunity for me to explore some of the world poetry that I'm not familiar with. Haitian poet, Félix Morisseau-Leroy, was a great find in the mix. Morisseau is credited with getting Creole recognized as one of Haiti's official languages.

One of my Haitian students W is very bright and scored 100 on one of the comprehension tests that we gave her, but she has been very timid about speaking in English. I thought maybe the poetic language of one of her homegrown poets would help to loosen her up a bit. W read the poem below by Morisseau beautifully! I wish I could have recorded it. I've actually been dreaming of directing a show that features works in English and other languages, read or performed by people whose first language is not English. Having my students read and speak these words from poets across the world has inspired me to get going on the project.

I'm Taking a Little Trip to the Moon
by Félix Morisseau-Leroy
(Translated from Haitian Creole by Jack Hirschman and Boadiba)

I'm taking a little trip to the moon
I've had it with life down here
Around here everything's sure hard
I'm on my way to the moon
They tell me up there there's no such thing
As good and bad people
There's no stupid guys or wise guys
No city or mountain people
All people are people on the moon
All people speak one language
I can't hack it on earth anymore
Civilization's exhausting me
Civilization's scaring me
Wherever I turn I see
People killing people
Civilization was finished a long time age
People there have forgotten that awful time
I'm taking a little trip to the moon
They tell me there's no king there
No county sheriff
No justice of the peace
No bailiff
No monseignor
I just gotta make that voyage to the moon
They tell me it's beautiful there, just beautiful
Nights are clearer than daytime
There's no time for a guy to sleep
No days for work or for play
Nights you watch the earth aglow
Brighter than the sun
And stars as close as fireflies on trees
There's no heat
No cold
No misery
No mud
Everyone's forgotten about war
Forgotten about civilization
The way the old forget colic
Measles and teething
I'm gonna live on the moon
Evenings I'll tell the kids stories
I'll tell them that the whole time the earth turns
There's a huge woman
An immense female werewolf
They call civilization
Crushing young men like ants.

From Wikipedia:

Félix Morisseau-Leroy (also known as Feliks Moriso-Lewa) was born on March 13, 1912. He was a Haitian writer who wrote poetry and plays in Haitian Créole, the first significant writer to do so. By 1961 he succeeded in having Créole recognized as an official language of Haiti, after expanding its teaching in schools and use in creative literature. Morisseau also published works about Haitian Créole and Haitian French literature. He worked internationally, encouraging the development of national literature in post-colonial Ghana and Senegal. In 1981 he settled in Miami, Florida, where he was influential in uniting the Haitian community around Créole and encouraged its study in academia. He died on September 5, 1998.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Taste of Ethiopia in Charlotte

Ethiopian cuisine is probably my favorite kind of food and I'm lucky enough to have found a restaurant here in Charlotte called Red Sea on Charlottetown Avenue that has never let me down. The food is always satisfying and delicious, and the owners are very welcoming. They always make me and my daughter feel like part of the family.

One of my students told me about another place called Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant on South Kings Drive, but I haven't had the chance to stop by there yet. (If you've ever eaten there, please give me your opinion of the food.)

Ethiopian dishes are strongly spiced (though not always spicy-hot), and served in a communal style where all eaters take from the same plate. Everyone usually shares a spongy piece of 'injera,' the Ethiopian flat bread made from teff, an African grain. Into the middle of the injera your server pours your meal -- stews, curries, ragouts or meats that you can eat with torn-off chunks of bread. My favorite is the vegeterian combination plate, which includes dishes made with corn, greens, beats, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, yellow split peas -- all made with various spices.

The traditional way of eating is with the fingers, which is in itself a delicate art. I must admit -- eating with my fingers comes quite naturally for me. Some people don't take to the practice so easily. Also traditionally, when eating with a group, sometimes the meal does not start until the head of the family or guest of honor tears off a piece of injera (bread) for each person at the table.

Maybe one day I'll get to travel to the great Abyssinia, as Ethiopia was formerly known. In the meantime, I've been enjoying this poem, written by a great Ethiopian playwright and poet, Mengistu Lemma. In celebration of National Poetry Month, here it is:

Tizita (Longing)
by Mengistu Lemma
translated from Amharic by Martin Orwin

The train hauled me out of London —
out of the smoke, the smog, the grime,
the filthy mix of soot and dust —
while the train spun fog from the fabric of steam,
clothing the land with its garment
of blessings and punishment,
Yizze kataf, yizze kataf, goes the powerful weaver.
Isn’t it amazing? Life’s a miracle:
coal smoke set free through the power of coal!

The carriage was big enough for ten,
but no one was brave enough to open the door
I’d shut fast to keep in the warmth.
Instead, they huddled in the corridor,
unwilling to share the warmth with a black man —
even though coal is black, even though
the wealth of England was forged by black coal.

The train whistled like a washint flute;
haystacks dotted the distant fields,
just like the straw roofs of houses in a village at home. And, in the blink of an eye, I turned into
‘a traveller of God’ in the meadows of England….

‘Greetings to your household’, I cried,
I am your “black”, your unexpected, guest:
your kindness to me will bring you God’s blessings’. ‘Welcome, come in!’, the head of the household replied. Then his wife brought a bowl of warm water,
and kneeling down happily to wash my feet,
‘Don’t be shy, my friend’, she said.

First my mouth blessed that tulla beer of Gojjam,
then a bowl arrived, and my empty stomach began to fill
as I licked the linseed oil of Gondar from my fingers;
next, chicken stew rich with curds. Contented,
I yawned. Sleep overcame me as I lay down
on fine cotton and was covered with wool….

Dimly, I heard the door slide open — but was fully awake
by the time it slammed shut. I jumped,
but then calmed myself down,
glowering at the reckless young man,
the brave one who’d dared to enter my den as I slept.
But his spotless shirt and neat matching tie made me laugh: he was so amazingly clean!