“Blond Gypsy Angel” essay for Quail Bell Magazine

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“Blond Gypsy Angel” essay for Quail Bell Magazine

I am so thankful to the wonderful Quail Bell Magazine for publishing this essay on the recent “Gypsy child-stealing” hysteria. My grandmother is a “blond angel” too, and the rhetoric surrounding her experiences in WWII and Maria’s in Greece rang eerily similar. I’m grateful for a place to tell her story and to take a close look at the politics and complication of Romani identity. In the essay, I link to a lot of excellent Romani writers like Hancock, Marafioti, Pipopotamus, and others, as well as non-Roma writers, who have a lot of intelligent things to say about the politics and complexity of the Maria case and the Romani human rights crisis– if you want to read the essay, I encourage you to read their perspectives too.

And a big thank you to my fantastic students who consistently have thoughtful, intelligent,and perceptive things…

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Mango banana brazil nut smoothie

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In the morning I don’t enjoy extraneous thinking or preparations. I need to write in my feelings journal and do some yoga and then get straight to the business/teaching/novel combo. That cocktail needs a chaser though, and this is a pretty good one. Smooth and sweet. Like nice things. And it’s quick to make so if you don’t have time to shower without awkward, soapy multi-tasking then you might appreciate a liquid breakfast that won’t get you drunk.

1 cup of baby spinach
2 frozen bananas
1 peeled and chopped mango
6 unroasted Brazil nuts
Maple syrup to taste
2 cups filtered water
Blend!

Brazil nuts are especially good for men’s health and Len loves this smoothie. So he’s the poster boy (unavailable for photos).

Honeycomb Smoothie

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Some weekends are full of luxurious pillows and rolling around. I just described our dog’s weekend. My weekend is work that I didn’t get to because of other work, but that’s ok. I imagine that I am enormously important, and that delusion works very nicely. I learned that from the dog, actually. So to keep my energy up and my cold at bay, I made this smoothie with Len. Pollen and honey have antimicrobial properties and they are great for sustaining energy. Athletes often take a spoonful of honey for endurance, which is perfect for me because I will be sitting around and writing all day, but I might want to pace and rant about the futility of it all with expressive hand movements later. I’d like it to be an option anyway.

2 cups watermelon
2 frozen bananas
1 big handful of baby spinach
1 tsp local raw honey*
1 tsp of local bee pollen
1 and 1/2 cup of water

Blend!
*I love Honey Pax Tupelo honey  www.honeypax.com

Obviously if you are allergic to pollen, don’t have it for breakfast.

Report from Aug 12th – Flight

Aw! I missed this post. But it’s so nice to take a mind-walk through that night at Spoken Word Paris again– so many talented readers and performers! Check them out, and please go if you’re lucky enough to be in Paris.

SpokenWord Paris

Report by David. Photos by Norma.

Jessica Reidy opened with a strong prose piece about being Romany but disconnected from those roots, living in these days of anti-Romany racism. You can read the whole piece at Narrative Magazine (sign up is free.)
Bill never left the bar but thinks the government is real.
Devon compared you to a comparison.
MacDara read TS Eliot (East Coker, Part V) – “20 years largely wasted trying to learn to use words…”
David Jaggard asked: How terrible was air travel in the Dark Ages?
Drake wore his stupidity like a lighthouse and played Turkish flute between the lines.
Yoshka was healed by poetry.
Jennifer talked about swallows in the hour of arrows.

Bernard dazzled with French wordplay in “Moi, ton toi.”
Erika was in the city of Love with no-one to love.
Thundercat (yes, Thundercat) advised “fly like a stone thrown to strike a lover’s…

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Journaling: I understand nothing and I still hate Guy Smiley

Before I write, I have to journal for a few pages. It’s just what I have to do so I don’t write total crazy-in-a-bad-way bollocks for my work-writing. Usually journaling, combined with yoga and much tea, clears my head enough so that I start to figure things out.

Today I wrote in my journal, “I can’t control anything in the universe except myself, and even that is debatable.” I laughed and then I stared at it for a while. Upon literally minutes of examination, the extent to which I control myself is a complete and utter mystery. But I think self-control or self-awareness is the heart of Svadhyaya, or self study, from the Yamas and Niyamas, the 10 ethical principles or guidelines of Yoga. Compassionate study and practice lead to knowledge… and maybe self-control.

Our roommate said something like, “My mother tells me that good manners are meant to make the other person feel as comfortable as possible.” I absolutely love this idea, and I think the yogic practice of self-study probably has that in mind too. If we can accept and understand ourselves lovingly, we can act with love and love unconditionally. Right? (Right?)

I’m still not sure what it means to control one’s self, but it’s worth investigating in writing, and in all the other things, really. I’m thinking that it might even be a fun writing prompt when I’m stuck with a character, like, “What aspect of himself or his behavior can’t he control? Why? Who/what else is controlling him?”  Or it could be real-talk like, “Why do I still find Guy Smiley from Sesame Street terrifying now that I’m a grown-up? Why can’t I control my reaction?”

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Image source: muppet.wikia.com

    I just hate his stupid face! He’s looking right at me. Put that away, Guy Smiley. You have no power here.

Blog 9: Ekphrastic Poetry inspired by the work of Romani Artists

This is from my class blog– I teach “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: Writing Creatively about Romani Culture” at FSU and my students are awesome. Check out their response posts if you’re interested. But the reason I am re-posting is because I found so many wonderful contemporary Romani artists and posted the links there to help my students with their ekphrastic poetry assignment, and I was so happy to find myself falling in love with artist after artist. If you want to take a look at the contemporary Romani visual arts and culture scene, it’s a good list to start from.

gypsyrepresent

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Katarzyna Pollok, Sara in a Snailhouse (2002). Acrylic on canvas, 60 × 80 cm, appeared in Signs Journal

“Artist Statement
Sara is the name of a saint worshipped by Roma in the south of France. She is supposed to have come with the Three Marys as their maid from Israel after the death of Jesus Christ. I took the story to show that we Roma have forever been regarded as coming from somewhere else, that we have always needed shelter, that we have always lived our vibrant culture, that we are still in hiding, and that we have always had our roots: India.

In my artistic expression I travel across boundaries. This also means that I do not adhere to any fixed style or genre of art but “nomadize” through all the forms, traditions, icons, and images I come across in my life. My art is also both the means…

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