Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Palo Verde Tree in Bloom
I’ve recently become a fan of flash fiction (and have written some myself). I was intrigued by the premise of this volume of 100 100-word stories by Walker, author of 25 books and a creative writing instructor at Hampton University.
From reading The Library of Afro Curiosities, I learned that a 100-word story might not have a traditional story arc, with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. It might instead be a single incident; or it might be a realization, along with the backstory leading up to it. It might be a single sentence, as the story “Searching for Water Where It Never Rains” (which to me seems more like a prose poem than a story).
Some of the stories do not tie up neatly at the end, but leave the reader with an unresolved question. I like that; it’s a technique I’ve used in my own short-short fiction.
Every word counts in writing this short. Walker is good at putting together words loaded with extra value. Here are three phrases from the story “Wishing.” “. . . her Stan Smith Adidas white like lies . . . her soft lips tasted like the sweet syrup of purple popsicles on a Saturday in July.” “My mind was a wheel of fortune . . .” Again, Walker’s words hit me like poetry.
Despite the title, you don’t have to be Black to derive meaning and enjoyment from the book. Some characters make multiple appearances among the stories. I recommend this book to anyone who likes short fiction and/or wants to write it. It’s especially good for people with short attention spans or no time to read—you can read it all in a couple of sittings. Hey, this review is as long as three of the stories.
This is the day we pay homage to all those who didn’t come home. This is not Veterans Day, it’s not a celebration, it is a day of solemn contemplation over the cost of freedom. ~ Tamra Bolton
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. ~ John F. Kennedy
May we never forget our fallen comrades. Freedom isn’t free. ~ Sgt. Major Bill Paxton
I’m undertaking a new project: reading my poems out loud.
I’ve not been to a poetry reading in a long time. But I’ve listened to some on poetry sites, and I’ve watched some on YouTube.
Most of my poems are too gentle and quiet for Slam readings.
I’ve heard people read poems in a monotone. Boring. How not to be boring? Practice. So I started practicing one of my old poems, one which I posted on my blog, so I can’t submit it to most publications. Just to make things interesting, I decided to film myself and post it on YouTube.
What? That’s crazy!
Yeah, it is. And this first one is not very pretty. I look like an awkward old lady. My hair is disheveled, even though I brushed it just minutes before. And though I used my good camera, the video quality is poor–I don’t know why. I couldn’t focus it right. Maybe next time I’ll use a different background. And though I practiced reading it for several days before filming, this was the fourth take, and I still made a mistake–I said “passerbys” instead of “passersby.” I decided not to tempt fate by recording it again, because bad as it was, it was way better than the three previous attempts.
Future videos can only get better, right?
My poem is a sonnet. It has a particular rhyme scheme. It’s in iambic pentameter, each line made up of five units consisting of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable: ta TAH, ta TAH, ta TAH, ta TAH, ta TAH. (But I try not to read it that way.) It has three 4-line stanzas, followed by a couplet at the end.
A little something for everyone today.
We knew her first as one half of Ike and Tina Turner:
Her undeniable energy and talent carried her into prominence as a solo performer after her divorce from Ike, who physically abused her.
She was raised a baptist, but as an adult embraced the Buddhist faith. She found love again 1986 with Erwin Bach, whom she married in 2013. He’s been her rock through health crises such as stroke, cancer, and kidney failure.
We’ll never forget her.
In the 1990s, when I still had small children at home, I went to a writer’s conference where an author presented an in-depth workshop on writing for children. Inspired and wanting to experience more, I went to the library to check out some of her books.
Every single one of them dealt with young girls exploring lesbian behaviors. (She hadn’t mentioned that at the conference.)
My gut reaction was, I don’t want my girls to read these books. I’d rather they didn’t know anything about this.
Flash even further back, to the 1960s. I had my first period when I was 10. No one prepared me for it. I thought I had a horrible disease. When I showed my mom my bloody underwear, she said, “Already? Oh, honey, this is just a part of growing up. This is going to happen every month now.” No further explanation. (My mother had her first period at age 16. She was staying with relatives at the time. She was also not prepared. When she confided in her aunt, she was told, “Well, you must have done something bad.” It was the 1930s.)
When I was 11, my Girl Scout troop leaders wanted to show us a movie about menstruation, and they sent a letter to our parents about it. My mother wanted me to see it. I had no idea what it was about. But the principal of our Catholic school (a nun) got wind of it and called all the members of our troop into her office and told us not to see it. She said she wanted us to stay little girls as long as we could. She didn’t know that I already had my period and didn’t know why. I think she was afraid we’d hear something about s-e-x and wanted to protect us from it. When I told my mother what Sister said, she told me I was no longer going to see the movie.
Two years later, a friend found out how the sperm gets to the egg. (All we knew about where babies came from was that a man has a sperm and a woman has an egg, and when they get together, a baby is conceived. We knew nothing about the mechanics.) She told a group of us that “the boy puts his you-know-what you-know-where.” It took us a while to figure out what you-know-what was and where you-know-where was, but when we figured it out, we were adamant we would never ever let that happen. That’s probably a good position for an eighth grader to take.
It’s hard for a child to grow up in this day and age with explicit content everywhere and not know the facts of life until age 13. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Surely parents have the right to withhold information from their children that they believe they’re not ready to process. But do they have the right to withhold it from everyone’s children? And do they have the right to suppress other information, like the role slavery and racism have played in United States’ history, or how colonists annihilated hundreds of thousands of the original residents of the western hemisphere?
When I was a child, I read voraciously. When I had read virtually every book in the children’s room of our town library multiple times, I graduated to the adult area. As a preteen, I read murder mysteries, historical romances, and science books. I found answers to questions my parents were reluctant to talk about. Many times I read passages that shocked me with their sexuality, violence, or depravity. I never told my parents what I was reading because they would have forbidden me to read it. Yet, I never acted out what I read.
If anything, my reading educated me, entertained me, prepared me, and helped me to recognize when I was in a situation that could turn dangerous for me.
From the perspective of my advanced years, I believe that for every book, there is a person who needs to read it. There may be books that the average person really doesn’t need to (or shouldn’t) read, like how to make an atomic bomb at home or how to kill someone and make it look like an accident (if those books actually exist), but that’s not necessarily what’s being banned. If you look at a list of commonly banned books, you may very well see books you’ve read yourself and enjoyed and would be mystified that anyone could object to. Often, the bans are supported by people who have never read the books and don’t even know what they’re about—they’re not interested because someone else already said they’re bad. What if you were going through a crisis, like being confused about your gender, or dealing with an incarcerated parent, or finding drugs in your child’s bedroom, and you couldn’t get your hands on appropriate literature because someone else found it objectionable?
As many as a million books are published each year in the United States. That should be cause for rejoicing. Let’s not limit people’s access to them.