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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dozing Off in the Academy

In my dreams I am a poet who travels the world armed with inspiring words that eradicate suffering and induce bliss.

In my waking life I have a job where I am expected to act serious, do serious things and take myself and my co-workers seriously. More and more I find it hard to remember who I really am. It seems I have lost track of that silly justice-loving artsy woman I used to be. I waste countless hours ironing shirts, gelling my hair, collecting toll money, buying gas, grading papers, sitting in meetings, filling out forms, and consulting calendars. Why?

Will my students go out in the world and do amazing things? And if they don't does my day job matter? Does the time I do in the "Academy" mean anything in the larger scheme of things? Or is it just a "day job" -a way to pay the bills while I write the next great American poem? A respectful way to make a living if not to live?

When I was a student (13 years of my life, not counting k-12) I imagined that becoming a professor would allow me entry into a wonderful intellectual community, a Beloved Community full of people with high ideals and brains to match them. Nobody told me the truth about the Academy.

Dr. King’s "Beloved Community"
was "a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood... international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict." (King Center literature)

Is there some way to create such a community? I would like to think so, even if the Academy might be unable to host such a place. Or maybe King's ideas are too old and we need to come up with new ones? After all, King was a very serious fellow. How do we inject joy into the equation? I think we need a community for people like me. Maybe we should call it the Blissful Community.

In the Blissful Community beauty, joy, wisdom, and love will be the goal of all activities. Dialogue and Creative Productions will be the vehicle and silliness and foolishness will be required. Hmmmm. Will have to work on this idea......

Monday, November 19, 2007

Poems To Write: A List

Poems To Write

1. a poem to end all wars
2. a poem to end all rape
3. a poem to make people realize how foolish white supremacy is
4. a poem that can be recycled
5. a poem that doubles as a fractal of all other poems
6. a poem that makes bitter and lonely old people laugh
7. a poem that turns love into hate, pain into joy, and grey into purple
8. a poem to bring the endangered animals back from the brink of extinction
9. a poem that tastes like chocolate, smells like roses, and feels like good sex
10. a poem that everyone thinks is about them

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mixed race Indian feminist on TV

Yesterday I got to tape a TV show down in Cocoa Beach, FL- my old stomping grounds. The host was this wonderfully impressive woman, Charna (Charna Davis Wiese) who was charming and asked all the right questions.

Interviews can be difficult, annoying sometimes. You never know what questions you will be asked. Sometimes the reporter seems hellbent on exposing your dirty laundry, digging up your darkest secrets, making you look foolish or arrogant or shallow. I have had my share of bad press and I admit I have developed a bit of cynicism with regard to the media.

But hey, it had been awhile since I had gotten any press at all so I figured what the heck. Sitting in the green room watching TV with the make-up artist, I got into a conversation with an interesting man of unknown position who wanted to know if I was an Indian. Yes, Seminole I said. He got to talking about his own Cherokee past and then asked me later if I was fullblood. No, I said. Oh, really? He seemed genuinely shocked. Well, nobody would know, he said. You look like a fullblood. I think he meant this as a compliment. It might have been taken as one if he wasn't talking to mixcentric mama herself. Yeah? I replied. And then my usual reply: well different people see me differently.

I think its odd that everyone thinks they know exactly what I am and feel so certain that I look exactly like that and nothing else. People are funny.

I was wearing my Tibetan jacket which looks a bit Seminole to me. But I would be lying to myself if I thought I could figure out what aspects of my appearance lead to particular racial ascriptions. I never know and my efforts to unravel the mystery is usually fruitless and if I am lucky, also humorous.

I read two poems on the show, "Names", and "We are the Women." I brought a whole binder of options but 30 minutes was over fast. We talked about my being a mixed race person, an Indian,a poet, a philosopher. I said a lot of things I wasn't expecting to: I called myself a troublemaker, talked about learning to love people who across differences (being careful not to mention that Florida had taught me how to love white racists. That might not have gone over well), compared African and Native American philosophies, reminisced about my graduate school days when I was outraged by the claims of a certain Native American professor that southeastern Indians had no culture, and told stories about one of the early women's writing groups I founded.

Then I pulled out the poem about sexual abuse. Just to spice things up or make people uncomfortable, I am not sure which. Never a dull moment. She asked me how I was able to read such an emotional piece over and over again. Good question. One best not dwelt on for too long!

We talked some about the feminist issue of silence and shame before the show was over. It was fast-paced and exciting. The host said she might invite me back. I don't know if that is just showbizease or if she meant it but it sure sounded nice.

Where can you see this show? WBBC. Also some PBS affiliates throughout the country, I was told. Not a network show. I will have to hunt down the airings so I can list them on the website. Will keep people posted. Once Charna's show sweeps the nation, I am sure I will be gettign some invites to be on some bigtime talk shows

Oprah, here I come!