Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Elemental Sounds

Enlarge poem

There’s a corner in heaven
where Coltrane solos are pressed
into the grooves of clouds. Sun
rays sharpen themselves like hands
on phonographs, the sky spins
and baptizes earth
in a shower of D minor. There is
Coltrane music in my hair,
there’s a new song drenching
the tuneless, barren streets.
Listen, it’s raining
rhythm.

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Featured Poem:

Learning to Swim

Enlarge poem

She was the baby of the family
curious and neon
magic unraveling her singing braids
there was music coming off of her:
violins and batas
pianos and castanetas
sounds her momma couldn’t relate to
sounds that reminded momma of sin
imagine
sienna sunflower girl
knee high
southern tinged
tangos and rumbas tickling her feet
imagine
the first time the branch of the peach tree
ripped her skin because she’d been caught
moving to some rhythm
moving to some rhythm not born of the church
it was everything-her
sound, her scent, her earthspeak-
brought the hands, the belts, the switches down
and she tried,
when she left their house,
she tried to conjure her dance again
hear the whispers under her feet
she pulled watercolors around her waist
wore amber and amethyst on wrists and shoulders
she chanted and wound her way through jazz
but no one could read the smoke signals
of her cigarettes
“death would be sweeter than any of this”
and when we met
she was 35
and I was newly born
and she was still drowning
but she gave me studios to dance in
trumpets
screaming magentas
muted blues
congas
tarot cards
modeling clay
she kept judgement in a locked box too high for me to reach
she stepped aside
my mother stepped aside
she’d evacuated her own dreams
courted death many times
when I met her
she was still drowning
but somehow
she took me to the water
and somehow
she taught me to swim.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (1)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (2)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (1)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (1)
  • Jubilation (3)

Comments

  1. What I read:

    Magnetic! This is movement of childhood stolen. Even though she attempts to recapture the moments that were carefree and filled with laughter, it is difficult. She’d rather die than live the life she is force to replay in her head… In spite of it all she teaches her daughter to dream.
    Heartwrenching

    Shirelle Alexander

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is a writer, educator, and performer. She has been a featured speaker at universities, festivals and events throughout Europe and North America. She is the Poetry Editor of the literary magazine African Voices.

Her work  deals with silence, sexism and racism and it has been published in Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/AtlanticGo, Tell Michelle (SUNY), Listen Up! (One World Ballantine) and Revenge and Forgiveness (Henry Holt). Tallie’s work has been the subject of a short film “I Leave My Colors Everywhere.” Her first collection of poetry, Karma’s Footsteps, was released by Flipped Eye Publishing in September of 2011. She is the recipient of a 2010 Queens Council on the Arts grant for her research on herbalists of the African Diaspora. She has taught literature and composition  at York College and Medgar Evers College in New York City.

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Biography

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is a writer, educator, and performer. She has been a featured speaker at universities, festivals and events throughout Europe and North America. She is the Poetry Editor of the literary magazine African Voices.

Her work  deals with silence, sexism and racism and it has been published in Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/AtlanticGo, Tell Michelle (SUNY), Listen Up! (One World Ballantine) and Revenge and Forgiveness (Henry Holt). Tallie’s work has been the subject of a short film “I Leave My Colors Everywhere.” Her first collection of poetry, Karma’s Footsteps, was released by Flipped Eye Publishing in September of 2011. She is the recipient of a 2010 Queens Council on the Arts grant for her research on herbalists of the African Diaspora. She has taught literature and composition  at York College and Medgar Evers College in New York City.

Elemental Sounds

Enlarge poem

There’s a corner in heaven
where Coltrane solos are pressed
into the grooves of clouds. Sun
rays sharpen themselves like hands
on phonographs, the sky spins
and baptizes earth
in a shower of D minor. There is
Coltrane music in my hair,
there’s a new song drenching
the tuneless, barren streets.
Listen, it’s raining
rhythm.

Featured Poem:

Learning to Swim

Enlarge poem

She was the baby of the family
curious and neon
magic unraveling her singing braids
there was music coming off of her:
violins and batas
pianos and castanetas
sounds her momma couldn’t relate to
sounds that reminded momma of sin
imagine
sienna sunflower girl
knee high
southern tinged
tangos and rumbas tickling her feet
imagine
the first time the branch of the peach tree
ripped her skin because she’d been caught
moving to some rhythm
moving to some rhythm not born of the church
it was everything-her
sound, her scent, her earthspeak-
brought the hands, the belts, the switches down
and she tried,
when she left their house,
she tried to conjure her dance again
hear the whispers under her feet
she pulled watercolors around her waist
wore amber and amethyst on wrists and shoulders
she chanted and wound her way through jazz
but no one could read the smoke signals
of her cigarettes
“death would be sweeter than any of this”
and when we met
she was 35
and I was newly born
and she was still drowning
but she gave me studios to dance in
trumpets
screaming magentas
muted blues
congas
tarot cards
modeling clay
she kept judgement in a locked box too high for me to reach
she stepped aside
my mother stepped aside
she’d evacuated her own dreams
courted death many times
when I met her
she was still drowning
but somehow
she took me to the water
and somehow
she taught me to swim.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (1)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (2)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (2)
  • Inspiration (1)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (1)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (2)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (1)
  • Jubilation (3)

Elemental Sounds

Enlarge poem

There’s a corner in heaven
where Coltrane solos are pressed
into the grooves of clouds. Sun
rays sharpen themselves like hands
on phonographs, the sky spins
and baptizes earth
in a shower of D minor. There is
Coltrane music in my hair,
there’s a new song drenching
the tuneless, barren streets.
Listen, it’s raining
rhythm.

Comments

  1. What I read:

    Magnetic! This is movement of childhood stolen. Even though she attempts to recapture the moments that were carefree and filled with laughter, it is difficult. She’d rather die than live the life she is force to replay in her head… In spite of it all she teaches her daughter to dream.
    Heartwrenching

    Shirelle Alexander

Your email address will not be published.