Taken from Unseen Rain, Quatrains of Rumi, translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, published by Threshold Books.
Read by Jon Minton, a theatre student at UAA. Jon is the coordinator of Poetry Parley at Out North, a monthly poetry reading that occurs on the Third Wednesday of every month. He is also a director for Alaska Theatre of Youth, directing their production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Rumi lived most of his life in Turkey during the 13th century. He wrote short poems, several of which have been translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks in the book Unseen Rain. In one, he advises us to "Listen to presences inside poems. Let them take you where they will." Here are some selections, taken in no particular order:
"I have lived on the lip
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!"
"I pretended to leap
to see if I could live there.
Someday I must actually arrive there,
or nothing will be left to arrive."
"Don't let your throat tighten
with fear. Take sips of breath
all day and night. Before death
closes your mouth."
"My ego is stubborn, often drunk, impolite.
My loving: Finely sensitive, impatient, confused.
Please take messages from one to the other,
Reply and counter-reply."
"Begin as creation, become a creator.
Never wait at a barrier.
In this kitchen stocked with fresh food,
why sit content with a cup of warm water?"
The poem "Pledge" by Gretchen Diemer, appearing in the collection Between Fire and Water, Ice and Sky, published by NorthShore Press.
Read by Gretchen Diemer: "I've been asked to read this poem, "Pledge," which I wrote after reflecting on the meaning of patriotism and the love of country." Gretchen came to Alaska in 1994 to teach school in the Inupiaq village of Noorvik. She currently teaches special education in the Mat-Su Borough School District.
"Pledge" by Gretchen Diemer
"Here is the flag I can
on my heart, I
pledge to honor the great branch
of aspen, leaves beating
in the September wind, to hold dear
twisted limbs and white
bark, the red and yellow
leaves suspended above the water and
silt of the Matanuska, of any
meandering river, I
pledge to honor the bear, the harmful
and harmless, the ravens
circling the spawned out salmon beds, I
pledge to scatter the fallen leaves
as if they were the ashes
of soldiers cremated and
tossed about by an arbitrary wind."
The poem, "dive for dreams" by E.E. Cummings, appears in his collection, 95 Poems, published by Liveright Publishing Corporation.
Read by Jimmi Ware: "I enjoy this poem because it is an unapologetic reminder to live life to the fullest. I feel the spiritual essence of the words affirm my own beliefs. It is soulful and daring. To achieve your dreams, you must be consciously aware and have faith in your own ability." Jimmi is a member of Black Feather Poets (P.E.A.C.E., Poets Embracing All Cultures Equally). She recommends you check out www.elodiatate.com , which belongs to a friend. Jimmi is a contributor to the book she published with Martin Luther King's daughter Yolanda: Open My Eyes, Open My Soul.
"Dive for Dreams" by E.E. Cummings
dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at this wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for god likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
The poem "The Last Wolf" by Mary TallMountain, appearing in Crosscurrents North, published by University of Alaska Press.
Contributed and read by Marybeth Holleman, co-editor of Crosscurrents North and author of Heart of the Sound.
A North Carolina transplant, Marybeth has lived in Alaska for more than
20 years, and is still caught breathless by Alaska's wild beauty. Marybeth's website.
"The Last Wolf" by Mary TallMountain:
"the last wolf hurried toward me
through the ruined city
and I heard his baying echoes
down the steep smashed warrens
of Montgomery Street and past
the few ruby-crowned high-rises
their lighted elevators useless
passing the flicking red and green
of traffic signals
baying his way eastward
in the mystery of his wild loping gait
closer the sounds in the deadly night
through clutter and rubble of quiet blocks
I heard his voice ascending the hill
and at last his low whine as he came
floor by empty floor to the room
where I sat
in my narrow bed looking west, waiting
I heard him snuffle at the door and
he trotted across the floor
he laid his long gray muzzle
on the spare white spread
and his eyes burned yellow
his small dotted eyebrows quivered
Yes, I said.
I know what they have done."
This poem, "Anchorage" by Joan Kane, appeared in the Northwest Review, published by the University of Oregon.
Written and read by Joan Kane: "The poem describes the infinite landscape of Alaska’s long winter season." Joan is an Inupiaq Eskimo with family from King
Island and Mary's Igloo. She holds degrees from Harvard College and
Columbia University. Check out Joan's writing Web site.
"How rapidly the tide turned, turns.
Still, turning now, gray wash and silt
Pivots on a finger of foam.
One could count time in its long
Trough, or lose it altogether:
Winter may thicken the air
Earlier than expected. Or,
An inflection in the shadow
Of the long crest is an increment,
And a small variation.
With it, we are joined, and continue.
A sharp-shinned hawk now wheels
Overhead, as each spring tends,
And shows its white underbelly."