July 10, 2009

"Criolla de Dispossessed Meets the Great Griot From St. Lucia." by Donna Weir-Soley

Donna Weir-SoleyDonna Weir-Soley was born and grew up in Jamaica. She currently teaches at Florida International University. She is a poet and critic and has been widely published in journals such as Macomere, Caribbean Writer, Sage, The Carrier-Pidgin, Frontiers and in the anthology, Moving Beyond Boundaries. She was recently awarded a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship for career enhancement.

Donna is the author of First Rain, an amazing and passionate book with poems of nuanced meditation and engaging thought-provoking anecdote. She includes family legends, those of home, immigration, and displacement.

"Where are your monuments

your battles, martyrs?

Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,

in that gray vault. The sea. The sea

has locked them up. The sea is History."

("The Sea is History" by Derek Walcott)

Criolla De Dispossessed Meets the Great Griot from St. Lucia.

A me dis

de illegitimate offspring

of de illicit affair

de outside chile

once remove from both sides

both a dem a try fe deny me

mi double birthright


"I who am poisoned with the blood of both,

Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?

I who have cursed

The drunken officer of British rule, how choose

Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?

Betray them both, or give back what they give?

How can I face such slaughter and be cool?

How can I turn from Africa and live?"

("A Far Cry From Africa" by Derek Walcott)

No one nuh come fe claim I and I

so me climb up inna de cave

curl up with de snakes

and learn to whisper venom

blow me snake-breath into de wind

embitter de firs’ dust of spring pollen

bees come buzzing round me lap

creaming one love into me orifices

me lend dem deceit fe sweeten dem sting.

Me is de outside chile

de illegitimate one

mother declare herself unwilling

unwitting accomplice, declare me bastard

corrupt like me daddy passion

birthed me at de mouth of de cavern

and return to Prosper

unblemished from her nights of sin

"While somewhere, a white horse gallops
with its mane plunging round a field whose sticks are ringed with barbed wire,and men/break stones or bind straws into ricks."

("Elsewhere" by Derek Walcott)

Me deh yah de suck snake venom

while she squeeze out me milk

from outta her breasts

pon de hot fire-hearth stone dem

hear de tortured sizzle

as she drain herself dry like parched corn

(and dem claim dem never learn nuttin from mi granny)

while me de dead fe hungry

But me jus ban mi belly

and swallow bile with de venom

and grow forked tongues

dat stretch the length of fern gully

me grow verdant and supple

like alan bamboo

reaching round worlds

and back to this little piece of rock

where me stretch out, shed me skin

like croakin’ lizard

and wait for de day when me nuh longer wait...

Fadda nuh dare look pon me

him talk to mi wid im back turn:

"They walk, you write; keep to that narrow causeway without looking down

climbing in their footsteps, that slow, ancestral beat

of those used to climbing roads; /your own work owes them

because the couplet of those multiplying feet

made your first rhymes. Look, they climb and no one knows them;

they take their copper pittances, and your duty

. . .is the chance you now have, to give those feet a voice."

(Omeros, 75-6 by Derek Walcott)

And a so fe me fada name de worlds I and I see

and de faces that refuse to see me

me learn de rhythm of him voice

each curve and dip

every swell and whirl

syllable by syllable me swallow

him meaning whole

until me learn to speak in parables

like de river.

Red moon over Lagos

Bleeds fe me name in ochre dust

Ile Ife a call me

Ile Ife a call me

Ile Ife a call me name

"Then suddenly from their rotting logs distracting signs of the faith I betrayed,

or the faith that betrayed me,

yellow butterflies rising on the road to Valencia."

(Midsummer,"LIV" by Derek Walcott)

Street children throng de markets

bellies heavy wid wind.

gods are silent now, yes!

sleeping in de museum

By de Palace gate.

Rent de moon, Iyah!!!!

Let de rain come dung

Sacred blood cleanse even fools!

"Who is that dark child on the parapets

of Europe, watching the evening river mint

its sovereigns stamped with power, not with poets,

the Thames and the Neva rustling like banknotes,

then, black on gold, the Hudson's silhouettes?

From frozen Neva to the Hudson pours,

under the airport domes, the echoing stations,

the tributary of emigrants whom exile

has made as classless as the common cold,

citizens of a language that is now yours."

("Forest of Europe" by Derek Walcott)

Now… dem bound to hear

though dem still don’t see me

mis-naming me daughta of Caliban,

bastard chile of Miranda

when me is none a dat

just me in multiplicity!

me oneness, me own...

although me nuh have nuh face

yet me will roar yuh

thunderous ululations

mock yuh safety

yuh sureness of self.

Till I and I become de bo in bombo!

eloquent and sacrilegious

yuh will love me yet!

Know ME

name me right.

When me upset de table at yuh dinner-party

turn over de dutchie pot

off de pimento wood fire

dumpling turn to ashes

caviar nestling in vomit...

Say yeah, a me rule

fire an’ brimstone a fe rain dung ya so!

A weh oonuu tek dis ting fah?

"The small plough continues on this lined page

beyond the moaning ground, the lynching tree,

the tornado's black vengeance,

and the young ploughman feels the change in his veins, heart, muscles,tendons,

till the land lies open like a flag as dawn's sure light streaks the field

and furrows wait for the sower."

("Forty Acres: A Poem for Barack Obama" by Derek Walcott)


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