Yesterday I started listening to a podcast featuring Elizabeth Alexander (you can find the podcast here), and I heard her read her poem "Ars Poetica #100:I Believe." When I went to her website to look for the text, I also found another that I liked even better. It's called "African Leave-Taking Disorder." I grew up in Africa and have witnessed this "disorder" many times, and even developed it myself. Far from being a disorder, it's a wonderful feature of the deep, satisfying relationships that people have with each other in traditional African culture, where hurry is not valued, and people matter more than things or events.
The poem begins like this:
Ars Poetica #28: African Leave-Taking Disorder
The talk is good. The two friends linger
at the door. Urban crickets sing with them.
There is no after the supper and talk.
The talk is good. These two friends linger
at the door, half in, half out, ‘til one
decides to walk the other home. And so
they walk, more talk, the new doorstep, the
nightgowned wife who shakes her head and smiles
from the bedroom window as the men talk
in love and the crickets sing along.
You can read the rest here.
The only Elizabeth Alexander poem I had ever heard or read before this podcast was her inaugural poem, "Praise Song for the Day". When Obama was inaugurated, I searched out all the poems that have been read at inaugurations (there aren't many) and read them with my eighth graders. After listening to the lovely conversation in the podcast (I'm still not finished; I'm listening to the one that's an hour and a half long, and I just can't ride the exercise bike that long), I am sure I am going to be seeking out more of her work.
Here's today's roundup.
Have a great weekend. Here's hoping you develop "African leave-taking disorder," and spend some time in deep, satisfying conversation.
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