A week or two ago I posted "Cowpastor Vandal," about the Bajan writer, scholar and activist Kamau Brathwaite's struggle to preserve the open, common land near his home, CowPastor, in Barbados, which is now being transformed by what I take to be real estate development interests. His original plea, written in his inimitable style, has now circulated far and wide, and many people have responded with e-mails of support and encouragement. I personally responded to Kamau and learned from him that things have actually worsened since the original "grito," as he called it, but he also sent me list of contacts whom I and others could press about what was happening there.
Responding to that original "grito," the poet Tom Raworth has set up a site specifically to aid Kamau's appeal, and the poet Jordan Stempleman has posted an updated list of the contacts Kamau sent around. I urge everyone to read the original letter, and consider writing a note to the various authorities (cc'ing Kamau in the process) letting them know how important it is to preserve Barbados's common lands, and how valued Kamau is, as a wordsmith, teacher and visionary.
Mufasa T. has forwarded information about a new film, titled Strange Fruit, that is making the rounds of national and international festivals. Directed by Kyle Schickner, whose previous films include the porn spoof Full Frontal (not the Soderberg film!) and produced by Schickner's Fencesitter Films, it stars the handsome actor Kent Faulcon (at right) as William Boyals, a Black, gay/sgl New York-based lawyer who returns to his native rural Louisiana to investigate the death of a gay friend from his youth, only to find himself confronting his own and the town's many demons. According to its press release, the film explicitly tackles racism and homophobia. I haven't seen Strange Fruit yet, but it looks captivating, and by any measure it's the kind of scenario, especially starring a predominantly-Black cast and set in the rural South, that we rarely see coming out of Hollywood.
The movie's Website features a trailer and lists some of the festivals where it has played or will screen, but no information on whether it's going to be nationally distributed in theaters yet. I hope it will be, even if in a limited run, and that it also will be broadcast on cable (Sundance I or II, perhaps? IFC? BET Starz?) so that a broader viewership can see it.
Fellow blogger, Web savant and old friend Donald A. Agarrat recently learned that he was selected as one of 10 winners in the jen bekman gallery's spring photography competition "Hey, Hot Shot!" This is wonderful news and a well deserved honor for Donald's photographic work, which I fell in love with some time ago. The jen bekman gallery (at 6 Spring Street in SoHo) will be hosting a show for the winners, with the vernissage slated for the evening of Thursday, May 5, 2005.
I particularly love Donald's multiple exposure shots, my favorite of which is viewable on Steven G. Fullwood's site (he loves it too!). Congratulations, Donald!
Recently McDonald's, which was founded in Chicago more than half a century ago, erected a new River North (600 N. Clark) restaurant that is the talk of architectural circles both in and outside the city. The new behemoth (and it is huge!), which was designed by Daniel Wohlfeil, McDonald's director of worldwide development, appears to take the notion of supersizing to its literal, material conclusions. It's "Mickey Ds on steroids," to quote Chicago Tribune architectural critic Blair Kamin's April 17, 2005 article.
Apparently a trio of noted architects were invited to design this building, but McDonald's corporate hierarchy scrapped their plans, some of which are online, and went with Wohlfeil's inverted pyramidal box. D'oh! I plan to check it out this evening, which should be Happy Meal enough!
I can only go so many days without posting poems, you know. Here's two: the first is by Karlo Mila (1974-), a Tongan-Pilagi-Samoan poet living in New Zealand; the second is by Ray A. Young Bear (1951-), a Meskwakie Indian poet whose work I had the pleasure of publishing about a decade ago.
FOR JOHN PULE
by Karlo Mila
the poet told us
there was a beach
but a hurricane came
and swallowed it up
there was also a nation of people
but a New Zealand sponsored
just as hungry
swept away people like grains of sand
with the help of
longremembered newfound family
he finds the old foundations
where hibiscus trees grow wild
with memories of his mother
using a new machete
he follows the old tracks
to a not so distant past
meeting his ancestors along the way
capturing them on canvas
mapping out their stories
so they will
never be lost
and his own children
will be able to find them
Copyright © 2005, Karlo Mila, all rights reserved.
OUR BIRD AEGIS
by Ray A. Young Bear
An immature black eagle walks assuredly
across a prairie meadow. He pauses in mid-step
with one talon over the wet snow to turn
around and see.
Imprinted in the tall grass behind him
are the shadows of his tracks,
claws instead of talons, the kind
that belong to a massive bear.
And he goes by that name:
Ma kwi so ta.
And so this aegis looms against the last
spring blizzard. We discover he's concerned
and the white feathers of his spotted hat
flicker, signalling this.
With outstretched wings he tests the sutures.
Even he is subject to physical wounds and human
tragedy, he tells us.
The eyes of the Bear-King radiate through
the thick, falling snow. He meditates the loss
of my younger brother--and by custom
suppresses his emotions.
Copyright © 1996 by Ray A. Young Bear