Monday, December 04, 2006

 

How I read with James Baldwin

Read Kyi May Kaung's poem about our evening last Friday night, when I gave a talk on poetry in wartime at her Salon here. The ghost of James Baldwin was with us in the tiny back room at Kefa Cafe in Silver Spring. Many thanks to Kyi for a great event.

Earlier in the week, she and I were both featured at a conference at American University on refugees and internally displaced persons. Reading refugee poetry in preparation, I found this marvelous poem in Carolyn Forche's anthology, Against Forgetting:

Evacuation

As we boarded the bus
bags on both sides
(I had never packed
two bags before
on a vacation
lasting forever)
the Seattle Times
photographer said
Smile!
so obediently I smiled
and the caption the next day
read:Note smiling faces
a lesson to Tokyo.

- Mitsuye Yamada, from Camp Notes

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