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In the center of wisdom made from crushing rocks against boulders, Harvey’s brilliant lyric lives in the resistance of black women whose presence on this soil is now in its fifth century. In You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love Yona Harvey shows how an original poetic lives in the marrow of the immortal bones of ancestry. The events of her life have moved the poet to write fiercely of her children and of loss, as well as the failures of the country where she was born. When the poet speaks to the soul sickness of men and of America it is with the generational wealth that is her inheritance, a wisdom that is the greater galactic mass to balance the more recent visions of black immigrants. Her voice is essential to making a cultural wholeness that would otherwise be impossible. This lyric, this unique, multimedia gift is evidence of an awakening only a few poets ever approach, an awakening that is the reward for an unfaltering belief in love’s profound nature.— Afaa M. Weaver 尉雅風View playlist
I—a habitual writer of sequences, and particularly of untitled prose poem sequences—have been trying to write an Individual Poem. I’m interested in the single moment, but I distrust it. So I met myself halfway in this playlist and looked for prose poems with titles, whose main unit was the punctuated sentence. We start with Yona Harvey’s “Q.," whose sentences catch Harvey’s wonderful & particular rhythm, and with Ashley Toliver’s exquisite emotional miniature, “Housekeeping.” But, as usually happens when I write with constraints, they crack a bit by the end. In Jenny Xie’s haibun “Corfu” we see how a line break differently holds tension from the sentence, and in Trace Peterson’s funny and whip-smart HRT poem “The Valleys are so Lush and Steep” the propulsive energy of the sentence travels across each section break. Each of these poems find potential in the focused attention to the texture of their language that a prose form provides.View playlist
Posting BailKeep missing me, you say. Armchair, stepstool, tree stump, church pew, I’m thinking up a list, half listening. Sit back & hold still, I tell you. My list is lacking. Sooner or later, I say, you’ll come up on the Sheriff. & by April, the Bondsman on the fourth floor. Sofa, swivel, chaise. He’ll be waiting for the right answer, some hint of repentance or pencil-skirted decorum, of a straight-backed, arm rested, ghost of a former teacup tipping self. You’ll have to meet, he’ll say with a twist of his belt, certain conditions. You’ll think of your cousin by marriage then. The one who insisted you “meet certain conditions.” The one who wanted so badly to act like a man. Call this number & that number on this day & that. Then maybe I’ll help you, your cousin by marriage said. Apparently, men make ultimatums. & operate under certain conditions. & look women in the eye & say, be more professional, like your cousin in manface. Like the Bondsman. What’s my deadline, you mutter to no one in particular, hoping to change the subject, leaning back in your chair.
Q.One of the four Royal Stars is watching over me. Yeah, I’m blessed in these times of nervous weather. The leaves chill in a bundle then scatter like police, off to the next doorstep. They don’t step, they don’t faze me. These jeans could hold three men. But it’s just one of me, girl. Only Son. Only Sound. Only Seer. All this green to gold to red to orange is just theater. I’m the Real. Keep your eyes on the Navigator of Snow and Infinite Gray. I rock these boots all year. What a storm got to do with me? Who knows the number of strolls to heaven? Not that I’m thinking on it. The Heavens know my real name. But you can call me Q. Quicker than Q. But, anyway. Certain things a man keeps to himself. Jesus wept. So I don’t. The past is for people who like to play things over and over. Me, I’m on to the next song. Listen to my own Head Symphony, to the Royal Stars. The colors, they thrill me, they fuel these legs.