I was late today because I was on the phone with my sister planning a two week trip around Europe. We haven’t seen each other in four months. Way too long considering we lived an hour away from each other, more like ten states, or two vodka shots, or one broken jeep and a trench full of rain from each other. I was late today to plan for some sisterhood. I was late today to make time for myself, herself, and ourselves. I am late today which on other days isn’t late.
Other days, it’s thirty minutes right on time. Other days, it’s a photograph of two lovers embracing in momentary perfection. Two pints in one conversation. A biographical account and a pitied confession. On other days, I wouldn’t be late today. But you see, it started because my sister and I are planning a trip, and our minds are already on vacation. We are already freed from the “traditional” form of life (if there is such a thing!), and we have been freed from the inescapable: time.
So I am not late today,
and I won’t be considered late
We do not address you
by a word that means nothing
Her name is more powerful
than their pronouns
We do not hide behind I
when expressing me
Do not take it offensively
They don’t understand this
When it is he and she but not we
There is no power in you
They, us and we
The man is she
and the woman is he
but we are it
Do not forfeit
(Published in “Seven Countries Poetry Anthology” by Arroyo Seco Press 2017. Originally published on 06/17/2016)
(Continuing my exploration of blending language, form, and art, “Aus verdammter Fleck” from Shakespeare’s Macbeth auf Deutsch written in the palm of Lady Macbeth)
(I have become fascinated by the blending of language, form, and art. Here is a short story written and visually represented simultaneously. It reads: When I was a little girl, I was visited by a frog in my garden.)
(Continuation of “On Writing in Iran”)
One English teacher told me that writing was a process and everyone’s process was different. I laughed. A process? Ha! It’s more like a Pollack. Throw it on the ground and get mad. Maybe get a little drunk. Fling some ideas onto it and see what splatters, what oozes, what drips right off the canvas. Look at it closely and get a little paint on the tip of your nose. Then realize that your looking at abstraction and step back in exhaustion. Only to realize that amongst the chaos, you created a fractal.
I once got into a fight with my ex over cursive. He didn’t understand why they still taught cursive when all assignments could be typed up. He didn’t understand why people wouldn’t print legibly instead of writing in doodles. He just didn’t understand that without this physical representation of my swirly, compacted, blending letters, I would be voiceless. I have to see myself on paper. I have to be reminded of my home language. I have to feel my thoughts transition from some metaphysical brain plane to a visually jumbled blue inked representation. I have to see my thoughts in my writing.
And now, it is so strange to say, that I am approaching the end of my path. I look back on the moments that hurt me the most. Pain is a cruel teacher. But, I learned from those scars and calluses and I think to myself, “Maybe it was a dangerous mistake to put a pen in my hand. To leave me with the words I knew how to use but not why to use them. Because I remember them and my needle draws blood from black and blue.” You and I have made me the writer that I am.
(Continued in “On Written Knowledge”)
(Continuation of “On Writing”)
The callus had formed a long time ago having never had the opportunity to heal. The pressure of every pen and pencil. The physical presence of every written assignment embedded into a small hard mound on my middle finger. In Iran, my teacher believed that the best way to learn a language and to learn how to write was to copy a text of high spiritual and scholarly merit verbatim. In essence, the only work that could adhere to such a high caliber was the Koran. I learned three things from that experience. First, Farsi. Second, that verbose metaphoric language, as depicted in the Koran, has no place in academia. And third, that I knew that seven seater dinning room table and dimly lit chandelier better than anyone. After getting home in the evening, by a taxi driver who would always drop me off last and honk violently at the gate for my father to come down and pay him, I sat at that dinning room table copying line after line of the Holy Book until 2, sometimes 3, sometimes 4 in the morning before going to bed only to be woken up 4, sometimes 3, sometimes 2 hours later to go to school. At school, the teacher didn’t like me because I asked too many questions and I didn’t understand how. The students didn’t like me because I was the American who thought she was entitled to the answers to her questions. The students who were kind enough to help me would often grow frustrated and walk away exhausted because after answering the how, I would always ask why. Eventually, I just stopped asking questions until the ninth grade when, back in America, a teacher wrote two fateful words on my paper, “How so?”
In Iran, I realized that my education was entirely my own and that if I wanted to advance, I would have to do so on my own. I would stay up late doing drills, completing workbooks, copying the Koran a hundred times until I could actually understand the words that I had written and what they meant together. I felt like a manufacturing line producing and fixing components but unable to see the whole. Unable to understand how everything fit together. But this did not teach me how to write, it taught me how to copy. This experience taught me how to regurgitate someone else’s thoughts which I completely disagreed with and even though I understood the how, the rules and grammatical regulations that held the language together, I still did not understand the why. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the why that these dead words on a page began to take on a new meaning. I now understood that I was establishing my foundation. I was establishing a solid set of rules, techniques, and strategies that would allow me to progress forward. Now, I could either build up my foundation further, jump off of it, or tear the whole thing down. The third one seemed less useful, so I decided to go with the first two
(Continued in “On the Writing Process”).
In order to get a song out of one’s head,
an individual must listen to the song
in its entirety.
Are the ones we love
a beautiful looped verse?
Do you have to live with them
for a life time
before you can get them out of your head?