Monthly Archives: April 2018

Mana: Junot Diaz Breaks Silence

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Author Junot Diaz writes a powerful personal essay, “The Silence” in the April 16 New Yorker. It is a letter to an anonymous fan who approached him after a reading, stood in line and asked if the sexual abuse alluded to in Diaz’s books happened to the author.

This is Diaz breaking the silence, not that day, but many days and years later. It is his emergence away from the mask that both shields him and destroys him.

As a teacher of English teachers, I always caution my teacher candidates to not allow themselves and their students to automatically make leaps in literature. Not everything is personal autobiography for the authors. It is a dangerous assumption to make.

However, this type of evidence, the mana, that spiritual power of a writer writing about his/her writing and how themes in their life intersect and seep out into their work is valuable and must be collected and held in our “teacher memory” so that we can help our students delve deeper into the psychological, spiritual and aesthetic power of literature.

What is sacred:

Iʻm still afraid–my fear like continents and the ocean between–but I’m going to speak anyway, because, as Audre Lorde has taught us, my silence will not protect me.

 

 

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Papio by Eric Chock

It’s April which means it’s poetry month and I am always a slow starter but I do like to try and highlight poems this month so this is by Bamboo Ridge editor and poet Eric Chock from A Hawai’i Anthology edited by Joseph Stanton, 1997.

This papio caught by my fisherman hubby on Hilo Bay 4/1/18.

papio

Papio

This one’s for you, Uncle Bill.

I didn’t want to club the life

from its blue and silver skin,

so I killed it by holding it

upside-down by the tail

and singing into the sunset.

It squeaked three times

in a small dying chicken’s voice,

and became a stiff curve

like a wave that had frozen

before the break into foam.

In the tidal pool

we used to stand in

I held the fish and laughed

thinking how you called me

handsome at thirteen.

I slashed the scaled belly,

pulled gills and guts,

and a red flower bloomed

and disappeared with a wave

like a last breath

your body heaved

on a smuggled Lucky Strike and Primo

in a hospital bed.

You wanted your ashes out at sea

but Aunty kept half on the hill.

She can’t be swimming the waves at her age

and she wants you still.

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