Stephen Narain

"Break a vase," Walcott says, "and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole. The glue that fits the pieces is the sealing of its original shape. It is such a love that reassembles our African and Asiatic fragments, the cracked heirlooms whose restoration shows its white scars. This gathering of broken pieces is the care and pain of the Antilles, and if the pieces are disparate, ill-fitting, they contain more pain than their original sculpture, those icons and sacred vessels taken for granted in their ancestral places. Antillean art is this restoration of our shattered histories, our shards of vocabulary, our archipelago becoming a synonym for pieces broken off from the original continent. And this is the exact process of the making of poetry, or what should be called not its ‘making’ but its remaking, the fragmented memory…"
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On Joy and Sorrow

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the reassure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs, discusses writing, Wisconsin winters and the stirring influence of Bon Iver.

Outside the Door

I SAT IN THE WARDROBE WITH A CHRISTMAS
DONUT IN HAND
AND LEARNED TO TIE MY SHOELACES IN SILENCE
DECORATED ORANGES WITH DIANTHUS SPICE
AND RED BANDS
HANG FROM THE CEILING LIKE PERFORATED
VOODOO DOLLS
THAT’S HOW I REMEMBER KINDERGARTEN
THE OTHERS WERE LOOKING FORWARD TO
SANTA CLAUS
BUT I WAS JUST AS SCARED OF HIM
AS I WAS OF MY FATHER

"Team" by Lorde

Jamaican poet Kei Miller in (brilliant) conversation with St. Lucian poet Vladimir Lucien.

lareviewofbooks:

For months now, Yahya Hassan has been the biggest story in Denmark. The young poet has collected literary awards and garnered widespread praise for having the courage to speak his controversial mind. He has also received death threats. On a December afternoon at Copenhagen’s central station, a young man assaulted Hassan while reportedly shouting that he was an infidel who deserves to be killed. At one of his readings, police protection cost 1,000,000 kroner, or a little less than $200,000.

"Why is a poetry book flying off the shelves in Denmark?" PRI’s The World interviews LARB contributor Pedja Jurisic about his article on Yahya Hassan — a story about a teen whose rage-fueled poetry has provoked a public debate in Denmark about immigration.

Read Pedja Jurisic’s original essay for LARB, "All the Rage in Denmark: Yahya Hassan and the Danish Integration Debate." 

The Belief in Obeah

for Ras Biko

The moth that enters
your house at night is a grudge
that somebody is holding
against you. It half-sits, bothered
by your light and the roof
over your head. It spreads
its small evening wherever
it lands, over the things
you love most. A dark tent
of dark intentions.

Anatomy of a Book.  The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith (2013).

Image: Wikipedia

Frederick Street, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 1950.