Poem of the Week | Still I Rise

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Can I just say before I dive into this week’s POW, that I’m super proud of myself for actually remembering to do it. I’m really working on my follow through, guys. Now if only I could get caught up on my book reviews…

Moving on.

This week’s POW was chosen with Black History month in mind, as well as yesterday’s post on Andra Day.

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou was published in 1978 in Angelou’s third book of poetry And Still I Rise. The poem, which was one of her favorites, refers to the indomitable spirit of Black people.

I like to think that this poem can transcend race. Baring in mind that it was written during a time when race what a hot button issue, I think today it’s an affirmation to anyone who’s ever felt pushed down or low. I really want to get a print of this and frame it somewhere in my apartment so it can forever be a constant reminder to Rise.

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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What I’m Listening To | Andra Day

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There is a real chance that I am no longer on the up and up when it comes to rising artists. I thinks that’s what they call ‘getting older’. Sigh.

In any case, my dad was actually the first person who told me to listen to Andra Day after I had mentioned my new affinity for Leon Bridges. I had every intention of doing so, but then was distracted by one thing or another, forgot her name and life went on. Then last week, I was reading something about the Grammy’s and read her name, saw her picture, and remembered, “That’s the girl dad was telling me to listen to!” 

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho off to Spotify I go! 

If you haven’t already been mesmerized by the amazing, beautiful and soulful voice that is Andra Day, please make your way to Spotify, iTunes, Pandora etc!

Vaguely reminiscent of a blend of Amy Whinehouse and Adele, Andra Day is a refreshing and enchanting addition to the neo-soul genre.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, check out the video below of the acoustic version of her single ‘Rise Up’, and the Spotify link to my personal favorite (aside from Rise Up) ‘Rearview’.

photo source

It’s Called History – Learn From It

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I’ve been struggling with the idea of writing post(s) with Black History Month in mind. I had the notion towards the beginning of the month to dedicate a post a week to a significant person in the Black community but then I started wondering if in doing so I would then feel obligated to write similar posts for other similar observances and I nixed that idea.

Here’s the thing, if you’ve read my About Me page/post, you may recall that I am bi-racial (my mom’s white and my dad is black). The extent of my Black History knowledge goes only just a smidge farther than my public school and college education provided me. My dad will often joke that my “Black card” has been revoked (although I’m not certain I ever received one to begin with), when the gaps in my knowledge are glaringly obvious (to him).

With this in mind, I had thought about penning (figuratively speaking) posts with Black History Month in mind. Not only as a way for myself to lessen my own knowledge gaps, but for others to do so as well. The hitch with this is that, like I said earlier, I wondered if I would be expected (from myself or others) to do similar posts for other similar observances. But also, even if I did decide to write these posts, I probably would only have written one or two, if that, because I’m a procrastinator and it took me almost all of of February just to write this post.

I have decided that this week’s Poem of the Week will be inspired by Black History Month (check back on Wednesday to see the poem), so there’s that.

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Poem of the Week | Do Not Go Gently Into That Goodnight

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This weeks POW is Do Not Go Gently Into That Goodnight by the welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

Thomas is one of my favorite poets and this, along with I Have Longed to Move Away, is one of my favorite poems of his.

Written in 1947 and first published in 1951, Do Not Go Gently is written in the style of villanelle and was said to be about Thomas’ ailing father.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

New Weekly(ish) Segment | Poem of the Week

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I’m starting a new weekly (I’ll try my best) segment called, Poem of the Week (POW).

I love poetry, but my knowledge of it, thus far, is somewhat limited. Enter, POW.

Each week I will bring to you a new poem as well as some brief information about the poet and/or poem. Or I’ll just bring you a poem. Or I’ll forget entirely and skip a week…

Total transparency guys, total transparency – that’s what its about!

In any case, I hope you enjoy this new segment and if you have any recommendations for the POW or a particular poet that I should maybe look into, leave me a comment, drop me a line, give me a shout out, etc.

Until next time!

{Guest Post} Review | The Handmaid’s Tale

38447The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood | Published: 1985 by McClelland and Stewart | Rating: 4.5/5 | Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Classic Literature

 

 

A dystopian novel that is set in the “near future” in what was formerly the United States. Government has been overthrown by a Christian theocracy aka a theocratic military dictatorship and women have lost ALL rights… which is putting that very lightly… And honestly not all of the men have many rights either as they are also held to, though much more loosely or with more rights overall, the moral dictates of the Giliad regime.

Told through the 1st person accounts of whom we know as “Offred,” which is quite literally of-Fred, and her flashbacks to her life before the overthrow of the government as well as her time spent during the indoctrination period in which she, and other “handmaids,” are spoon fed all the information needed to become docile, unquestioning, unthinking handmaids. Their duty to provide a child to their “commander” and his wife during a sex ritual, which the wife is present for… Um so yeah, yay public sex acts in a very closed minded Christian society…

The book, which was written in 1985, eerily sounds like the Christian Radical movements of current times as they push for more and more “Christian” and “moral” precedence, as they see it. Placing blame on one religion, Islam, for their problems and then forcing their Christian beliefs down everyone’s throats for their own benefit. For myself reading the novel I could very easily imagine the fanatics of today taking their beliefs and pushing us into some semblance of the society written about in this book… So needless to say it was freaking horrifying for me as a female and a liberal who thoroughly believes in every person’s right to their own person, human rights and the like!!!

Overall it was a very good, if not somewhat disturbing, read at how things could be when taken over by a group of religious zealots. I would recommend this book and especially for a group or class where open discussion can happen. There is a lot there to discuss and dissect. It would be a really deep one to get into and I, myself, would thoroughly enjoy the discussions possible there.

The book ends with an epilogue of sorts which is actually a class discussion in the year 2195. We can glean that the Giliad society is no longer governing and the history is being discussed much like we would hear in a college class today about ancient history. The professors and the students alike lightly mock the society, in that educated sort of way, as who could fathom such archaic ideas of thinking.  I could easily see this as a current history class in which we would similarly look so lightly on things such as feet binding; how backwards and unthinkable, but all the same it did happen and exist for those people who found it very real.

The book brought up some interesting thoughts for myself, personally, and I hope this book will do the same for you. At least get the wheels turning anyway! Read the book, because I said so!

Kisses until next time,

(Gotta try to end this on a light note alright)

Celia

 

 

Review | Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

9780316176484_custom-471ca800e5fe1258f2d4059059b24d8c1d95a7ba-s6-c30Life After Life by Kate Atkinson | Released March 14, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Genre: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction | Amazon | Goodreads

 

Life After Life is the third book I’ve read this year. (I’m slowly catching up with my reviews. Please await with baited breath!) It is also somewhat of a genre departure for me, as I tend to read mostly detective, murder/mystery, suspense/thriller novels. Life After Life, however is more of a historical fiction with some elements of Science Fiction in it.
Allow me to explain…

Spanning between 1910 and 1967, Life After Life tells the story of Ursula Todd. Ursula was born and then dies before drawing her first breath. Ursula Todd is born again. Throughout her life, Ursula will die numerous times. Each time, she’ll live again, going back to the catalyst to try another path until she gets it right.

I ‘read’ this novel via audio book, which may be part of the reason I had a hard time with it. The book was a slow start, before getting somewhat interesting (albeit somewhat confusing as well) towards the middle before falling flat once again. There wasn’t really much of a climax in the sense that there really wasn’t a edge-of-your-seat moment(s) in the book.

I confess, I only finished this book out of necessity – because when I don’t finish books, they tend to stick around in my brain, continually surging to the front, making me wonder how they end, even if I am not completely in love with the story. I need to know what the payoff is. I’m not entirely sure what that was supposed to be for this book. I suppose, I might have appreciated this book more if this were the type of book I read more often or I thoroughly enjoyed intense introspection after reading. I don’t.

As I said before, I generally read thriller/suspense novels which usually come with a heart-racing, edge-of-your-seat climax. This book had none of that.

Life After Life did give me pause for some slight existential philosophizing, so if you’re into that kind of thing, you may enjoy it. Overall, I wasn’t blown away or caught up in rapture with this book (which is how I prefer my books FYI). I didn’t find myself giving the actual story too much thought after finishing it, which to me, is not a good sign. And while I appreciated the writing style, the plot in itself just wasn’t enough to mesmerize me. 2.5/5.