The Poetry of Howe, A Yoruban Story of Easter Delicacy, and What We’re Reading

Saturday, May 4, 2013 - 6:40 am

The Poetry of Howe, A Yoruban Story of Easter Delicacy, and What We’re Reading

Good humor tweet of the day from Krista Tippett:

This I believe: God did not invent meetings.

Well, maybe one: to meet they maker. Does anyone disagree? Take it up with @KristaTippett! *smile*
Last week’s show with Marie Howe drew a strong response, including an inordinate number of requests to offer stand-alone versions of the poems she recited during the interview. We did!
Marie Howe
“Hurry” seemed like the perfect one for a Monday, the day when we feel the stress of the week start to mount. We push ourselves and our loved ones, rushing forward, sometimes gently urging or, at other moments, with a biting tone. Ms. Howe turns us about, forces us to look into the mirror, and maybe just maybe, laugh at ourselves:

Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.

I adore these closing stanzas, which she reads with such fluidity, from “Magdalene—The Seven Devils”:

For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,
the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.

The underneath —that was the first devil.
It was always with me.
And that I didn’t think you — if I told you — would understand any of this —

Art nouveau self portraitPhoto by Eddy Van 3000/Flickr

“It seems like the minute he was born, we were intimate friends.”

You must listen to Marie Howe’s poem about an exchange with her brother who died from AIDS. “The Gate” is a poem about friendship and intimacy, waiting and being present in the moment. It’s heartbreaking and heartening in its song.
All we ask is that you listen to these poems — and share and discuss them with your friends and family.

Hudson Passive House
I deeply admire how this “passive” home designed by architect Dennis Wedlick draws upon tiny churches and vernacular barns. Spirits will soar in this environs.

Woman in Gele, Iro, and BubaPhoto by Caroline Joseph
Easter Sunday has passed for many Christians, but Caroline Joseph teaches us about frejon, the traditional dish of her Yoruban mother:

“Frejon is not indigenous to Nigeria. Emancipated slaves returning from Brazil at the end of the transatlantic slave trade introduced the dish to the region. The freed slaves settled in southwest Nigeria (historically populated by the Yoruba) and founded what’s called the “Brazilian Quarters.” The ex-slaves too brought Catholicism from Brazil. Colonialist, tribal, and religious nuances intersected to form a staple that Yoruba throughout the diaspora still consider sacred to our Easter tradition.”

Ms. Joseph’s essay offers insight into the larger immigration story, without overtly being about immigration — but about people. Her family’s story is my family’s story, only 130 years later. She offers a scene of a modern American household, weaving in the rhythms of religion and tradition, and the long journey of education and renewal.
Closer walk with theePhoto by Gary Bridgman/Flickr
“Eckhart Tolle and the Kingdom of Heaven Within” was one of our most popular guest posts last week. Mr. Tolle says insights can be gained by an “intense awareness” of the present now:

“Some people awaken spiritually without ever coming into contact with any meditation technique or any spiritual teaching. They may waken simply because they can’t stand the suffering anymore.”

But where do these insights come from? Leave a comment and we’ll share some of our favorites with other readers.
And a few of your favorite photo-quote pairings of the week…
Scarf Attack!

“It’s better to find the way out than to stand and scream at the forest.”
~Wolof proverb

I stumbled upon this saying in Aimee Malloy’s excellent book, However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It’s a totally engaging read, well-written and eye-opening for those who may cringe sometimes at these efforts. I’ve been trying to get Ms. Melching on the show ever since I heard her at the Clinton Global Initiative a few years ago — and resolved to make this happen even more so now.
A former patient of a Red Cross orthopaedic centre in Kabul, Afghanistan constructs a prosthetic legPhoto by Kanishka Afshari/FCO/DFID

“Strength without a sense of direction leads to violence. Strength with a sense of direction is grace.”
~Matthew Sanford

This photo of a former patient of a Red Cross orthopedic center in Kabul constructing a prosthetic leg as part of an effort to assist those affected by mobility disabilities, including hundreds of mine victims in Afghanistan, felt like a smart pairing for Mr. Sanford’s words. If you haven’t yet heard Krista’s interview with him, you’re missing out on an unusual take on the mind-body connection.
Steinbeck [Tortilla Flat]

“We’ve separated the idea of vocation from the fullness of life, and narrowed it to career. This impoverishes women and men.”
~Krista Tippett

Wisdom seeps out of Krista — even through her Twitter feed (@kristatippett).
And, some of my favorite reblogs from the On Being Tumblr this week, including a:

» NASA image of hurricanes on Saturn.
» Magnificent photo of fierce hair fashion.
» St. Francis of Koi?
» Vintage ’56 Aston Martin? (Yes, this car is a religion to some of us…)
» Marvelous poem by Kazim Ali, The Museum of Flight”:

They all raced away from rules like sea-drunk criminals
hopelessly confused about the laws of men and gods

caught by gravity, unspooling like bolts of silk across the sky
chattering on and on about infinity and eternity

the whole way down.

In the Guardian, columnist Martin Robbins picks apart Sam Harris’ contradictory statements and “recklessness” in ‘Islamophobia’ and the Atheist movement” in the Guardian. It’s an excellent read:

“Suffice it to say that in my lifetime white Christians have been consistently the largest terrorist threat in my country, and I suspect that one of the first lessons people learn at terrorist school is how to not look, dress and act like one of the villains from ‘Team America: World Police.'”

The film analogy gets him an extra cupcake.
Other informative content we’re reading and tweeting about:

» Ten Paradoxes of Creative People. As Krista describes, “naming the flow of energy and rest and private and social.”
»The Unmistakeable New Voice of Pope Francis. An intriguing piece on the new pontiff’s use of vivid, unexpected language.
» 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013: Bizarrely missing from this list: Religion. An enduring media blind spot…
» The Structure of DNA. An 18-minute gem of a BBC podcast on the discovery and beauty of the double helix. Enjoy.
» Why Are Buddhist Monks Attacking Muslims?

Share Post


is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

Share Your Reflection