What Happens (June Jordan)

What happens when a dog sits on a tiger
when the fat man sells a picture of himself
when a lady shoves a sword inside her
when an elephant takes tea cups from the shelf

or the giant starts to cry
and the grizzly loses his grip
or the acrobat begins to fly
and gorillas run away with the whip

What happens when a boy sits on a chair
and watches all the action on the ground and in the air
or when the children leave the greatest show on earth
and see the circus?


national book awards finalists announced

. . . and so many scrumptious titles/authors.

Nikky Finney — Head Off & Split — Triquarterly/Northwestern Universty
Yusef Komunyakaa — The Chameleon Couch — FSG (swoon!)
Carl Phillips — Double Shadow — FSG
Adrienne Rich — Tonight No Poetry Will Serve — W.W. Norton & Company
Bruce Smith — Devotions — University of Chicago Press

Non Fiction
Deborah Baker — The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism — Graywolf Press
Mary Gabriel — Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution — Little, Brown
Stephen Greenblatt — The Swerve: How the World Became Modern — W.W. Norton
Manning Marable — Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention — Viking
Lauren Redniss — Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout – HarperCollins

Andrew Krivak — The Sojourn — Bellevue Literary Press
Téa Obreht — The Tiger’s Wife — Random House
Julie Otsuka — The Buddha in the Attic — Knopf
Edith Pearlman — Binocular Vision —Lookout (beautiful)
Jesmyn Ward —Salvage the Bones — Bloomsbury USA

the finalists were announced October 12th at Literary Arts in Portland. via Oregon Public Broadcasting

“Treasure your exceptions”

“If I may throw out a word of counsel to beginners, it is: Treasure your exceptions! When there are none, the work gets so dull that no one cares to carry it further. Keep them always uncovered and in sight. Exceptions are like the rough brickwork of a growing building which tells that there is more to come and shows where the next construction is to be.”

William Bateson, in The Method and Scope of Genetics, 1908.



original post and .pdf of Bateson’s article, “Treasure your exceptions”.

message from lake michigan.

because chicago has soul. has love. has friends. has community. this is a beautiful piece filled with lots of familiar faces. check it out:

funky mornin’. thank you june.

Why I became a pacifist
and then
How I became a warrior again:

Because nothing I could do or say
turned out okay
I figured I should just sit
still and chill
except to maybe mumble
‘Baby, Baby:
Because turning that other cheek
holding my tongue
refusing to retaliate when the deal
got ugly
And because not throwing whoever calls me bitch
out the goddamn window
And because swallowing my pride
saying I’m sorry when whoever don’t like
one single thing
about me and don’t never take a break from
counting up the 65,899 ways I talk wrong
and act wrong
And because sitting on my first
neglecting to enumerate every incoherent
rigid/raggedy-ass/disrespectful/killer cold
and self-infatuated crime against love
committed by some loudmouth don’t know
nothing about it takes 2 to fuck and
it takes 2 to fuck thing up
And because making apologies that nobody give a shit
and because failing to sing my song
got on my absolute last nerve
I pick up my sword
I lift up my shield
And I stay ready for war
Because now I live ready for a whole lot more

than that

[june jordan]