Writing in honor of the Gypsy Goddess-Saint Sara la Kali

Sara la Kali (Sara the Black) is the Romani Goddess-Saint who many Roma worship, and those who can will pilgrimage to the South of France to her statue on May 24th-26th and celebrate her with flowers, dancing, music, art, and a march into the ocean with her statue. Lots of Roma try their hand at matchmaking too, which adds a lovely springtime romance air to the holiday. I haven’t been lucky enough to attend (yet) but I honor her in my own ways. My poem “Transfiguration of the Black Madonna” is dedicated to her and expresses the hardship and cultural colonization that her people, the Roma, face. The snakes call back to her Indian origins and Shakti energy– the serpentine divine feminine. I’m delighted that the poem is out in the anthology by Sundress Press, Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity Anthology now available. The book is chock-full poems by poets I deeply admire with a hard, smart political edge.

If you would like to read an account of the festival, the jazz singer Tatiana Eva Marie, of Romani descent, wrote a beautiful essay for Quail Bell Magazine, “Sara-la-Kali: The Gypsy Pilgrimage,” about her experience of the pilgrimage and festival, dotted with wild ponies, art, and salt.

Here’s my poem, first published on The The Poetry Blog, and now in the Political Punch anthology. Check out the blog for more poetry!

“Transfiguration of the Black Madonna” (excerpted from Zenith)

Gypsy Goddess; Gypsy Saint
Black Madonna, full of snakes, let your crescent down. Wield the sickle, rush the milk, and salt the serpents’ mouths. Golden bangles, black milk snakes—these adorn your arms. Blue sky cloth cut for (you) Sarah, Sarah Black, Madonna Shadow, cut for goddess saint of wanderers, cut predestined, cut of chaos, cut the star palm bowls. Slip the feathers under scales and reform the body whole. You were a slave who sailed the chasm, sailed the sea and sun. Persecution sprang a river from the monster: milk, and spit, and blood. In the monster lived a woman and the woman’s soul—you wore her face and wore her tresses spun from black snake gold—golden teeth and golden brow, golden tail and root. The milk snakes split their nests and fled and now your mouth is ruined. There is no birth, there is no death, there’s only mutant growth, and milk snakes dyeing Sarah’s skin with heaps and heaps of gold. There is no sickle, there is no moon, there is no blood or salt. There’s only Sarah sailing through the dream in which she’s caught.

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Image by Tatiana Eva Marie, Quail Bell Magazine

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Luna Luna Magazine Re-launch, and my poetry

vintageHappy Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of the holiday, here’s a straight-talking fish smoking a cigarette and expressing her emotional needs. I hope you, dear reader, are having a few beautiful moments with yourself, the true beloved. Luna Luna Magazine has this great collection of Victorian Valentine’s Day cards and vintage postcard erotica. Got to love that.

I’m a little late to the party, but Luna Luna Magazine‘s new address is http://www.lunalunamagazine.com and it is even more marvelous than before, as above, so below, and the eternal dance of dark and light, many blessings to you. And I’m so excited that a few moons ago Luna Luna re-released my poems “In the Oven,” “Night and Night,” and “Gulls Calling Over Corcaigh” on their new site, too, so now you can read them here. Quail Bell Magazine also reprinted them when they were first released. Thank you to both awesome magazines for the support! Head’s up/trigger warning, all three deal heavily with sexual trauma and child abuse. Why am I posting them on Valentine’s Day, particularly when the re-launch happened ages ago and today is supposed to be happy and dedicated to love? No idea! It’s just happening. The cosmos is chaos.

I will say this, of the holiday. I’m thinking a lot about my little tattoo– a bird that’s standing on the Rromanes verb “VOLI” meaning “to love.” I got this tattoo, on this day years ago, because I wanted to remember that love is an action. What we do is love, and to love, we must act lovingly. Thank you to my friends and readers who have treated me with love and kindness through messages and actions this year. I hope you all are treated with the utmost care and respect because you deserve the best.

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My little bird VOLI tattoo wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day

My story “Why the Pyres are Unlit” in Drunken Boat’s Romani Folio

Drunken Boat has a special Romani Folio and I feel so honored to be included in it alongside Qristina Zavačková Cummings, Sydnee Wagner, Glenda Bailey-Mershon, Tamara Demetro, Allison Williams, and many others! It’s very cool to have a lit journal spotlight Romani writers in this way. Definitely take the time to check out all the wonderful writers in this issue. My short story “Why the Pyres are Unlit” came out of my first fiction workshop of my MFA with Robert Olen Butler, so a big thanks to him and everyone in that Fall 2011 class for helping me get it into shape.

And also in Drunken Boat, not in the Romani Folio but in the poetry section, is Brandon Lewis’s poem “On Solitude.” Another excellent read! While you’re at it, take a look at Brandon and Elissa Lewis’s poetry and drawing collaboration “Projected Lives” in Quail Bell Magazine— so beautiful.

Romani Folio Cover

Drunken Boat’s Romani Folio Cover

I’m reading at the New York City Poetry Festival for Quail Bell Magazine, July 25th at 2:30 PM

I’m absolutely delighted to read for Quail Bell Magazine at the New York City Poetry Festival. Check out our Facebook event and come join us if you can. We’d be so honored by your presence. Put on a shawl and your best, smug writer-face and just kick back into the weird and imaginative quailings. I’ll be reading trauma poetry and poetry grown out of the Romani (Gypsy) tradition, and it feels especially cool to be reading on my 29th birthday. There’s a metaphor in there. Don’t feel like figuring out for what. What am I, a poet? Pssh.
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Baxtalo Ederlezi!

Image by Judy Paris

Image by Judy Paris

Ederlezi, the Romani (Gypsy) Spring Festival, is one of my very favorite holidays. It’s celebrated with dancing, eating, singing a hauntingly beautiful folk song, and literally throwing flowers everywhere. Flowers in your house, flowers on your lawn, flowers in the river, flowers in the sea…. How could anyone not love this?

My favorite rendition of the Ederlezi folksong is performed by Tatiana Eva Marie of the Avalon Jazz Band. I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with the very smart and talented Tatiana in Quail Bell Magazine.

Another exciting Quail Bell surprise just in time for the holiday– Rita Banjerjee’s mistranslation poems were just released, including one poem inspired by my lackluster performance of Ederlezi at our last Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Writing & Yoga Retreat in France. Speaking of which, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop summer retreat deadlines for both Paris and Granada have been extended to May 25th. So Baxtalo Ederlezi! Have a beautiful and fortune-blessed Spring– hope to see you this summer!

Apply Now!

Apply Now!

Apply now!

Apply now!

Trauma poetry in Luna Luna Magazine

I’ve been honored to have three poems about childhood sexual trauma appear in Luna Luna Magazine, a favorite ezine of mine (and sister publication to Quail Bell Magazine). These poems are the first to be published from a series on trauma that I’ve been working on for many years. I’m putting together the manuscript alongside the novel I’m working on about Coco, a half-Romani (Gypsy) dancer and fortune teller at a Parisian circus who becomes a Nazi hunter. Coincidentally, the novel will contain a few poems. I’m so motivated to finish both projects within the next year. A large part of that is due to the warm reception that these poems have gotten– I couldn’t be more grateful or more touched. Many thanks. And a big thank you to Lisa A. Flowers, founder of Vulgar Marsala Press and author of diotomhero, who solicited me. I also got a lot of good advice about writing trauma poetry from Erin Belieu, Florida State University professor and co-founder of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and I so appreciate her help and encouragement. Check out Erin’s latest book Slant Six, and its starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.

You may know Luna Luna for their powerful feminist content, their fierce leader Lisa Marie Basile (Apocryphal), their cutting edge poetry and fiction, and their articles and features on alternative spirituality, the occult, and beautiful cultural practices from all over the world. One of my new favorite things is their Poescopes, that is, poetic horoscopes by Fox Foley-Frazier (Exodus in X Minor), curator of The Infoxicated Corner of The The Poetry Blog. P.S. I have some poems about Romani rights and mythology in the Infoxicated Corner as part of the Political Punch series. 

So here’s the link for “In the Oven,” “Night and Night,” “Gulls Calling Over Corcaigh” in Luna Luna Magazinehttp://lunalunamag.com/2014/11/03/poems-jessica-reidy/

Thank you for reading, readers. I feel fearsome and strong, and I’m writing like a demon. I was a demon for Halloween, by the way.

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Click the demon to read the poems, I dare you.