My love letter to “Political Punch” and Gypsy poems

I don’t know if you read Juan Vidal’s NPR essay “Where Have All The Poets Gone?”— it’s a smart, well-intentioned lament of the lack of American political poetry since the Beat Poets. Many readers, myself included, respectfully and optimistically disagree. Perhaps, since all of the poets he mentioned were white men, Vidal’s scope was too small, because it seems to me that political poetry is thriving on the voices of the systemically oppressed rising-up. But I think Vidal and I both agree where it really counts– we need more political poetry in America and we need more people to read it and care.
In response to Vidal’s essay, Fox Frazier-Foley curated “Political Punch.” It’s a week-long series of diverse American political poets, featured at The The Poetry Blog in The Infoxicated Corner. The poets included thus far are CA Conrad with a poem about LGBT representation, Anne Barngrover with a poem about the rape of Daisy Buchanon, and Christopher Soto (aka Loma) with a poem about the need to revolutionize the prison system. These poets, whom I am honored to be listed among, are a reflection of the many types of poets who write their art and politics, who speak up, shake it up, and rise up. Vidal, by the way, has been very supportive of the endeavor and extremely kind.
Here’s the link to my Opre Roma-style political poems “Murder and Tradition” and “Transfiguration of the Black Madonna” http://www.thethepoetry.com/2014/09/infoxicated-corner-political-punch-poems-by-jessica-reidy/ “Murder and Tradition” is inspired by real events that transpired in Italy— Roma girls Violetta and Cristina really did drown, and that camp really was torched– it’s all too terrible. And I wrote “Transfiguration” at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Yoga and Writing Retreat, so all those craft talks, workshops, and inspiration exercises paid-off! It’s about the Romani Goddess/Saint Sarah (Kali Sara), and the non-Roma’s mythology of the Romani people. Click here for more about the Romani Goddess.
Picture taken by Sarah Sullivan during a Quail Bell Gypsy fashion shoot http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-unreal/photo-tale-free-spirits

Picture taken by Sarah Sullivan during a Quail Bell photo tale shoot for “Free Spirits”  http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-unreal/photo-tale-free-spirits

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Untranslatable words writing exercise

I was just perusing this post, “30 Untranslatable Words From Other Languages,” illustrated by Anjana Iyer, and thought it would be a lovely idea to pick one and write about it as an exercise. It could be a free-write, an intense sensory exploration, character portrait, a scene or poem that recreates or encapsulates the experience or feeling of the word… whatever. Iyer’s illustrations are so beautiful and moody that it would be fun to incorporate them too.

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Swedish word. Read the post for more 

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.