Friday, April 16, 2021

Pratik Spring 2021 Issue Highlights : Thirteen Slovenian Poets

 

Spring 2021 Issue of Pratik

 featuring New Work from

Thirteen celebrated Slovenian poets:

Milan Dekleva Maja Vidmar Barbara Korun  Veronika Dintinjana Uroš Zupan

Boris A. Novak  Brane Mozetič Jure Jakob  Miklavž Komelj  Milan Jesih

Primož Čučnik  Peter Semolič  Kristian Kožel

 

Also a Special Interview with bestselling Slovenian novelist, 

Evald Flisar

PLus featuring Slovenian artist

Ira Marušič





Saturday, March 13, 2021

REMEMBERING AMERICAN POET RALPH ANGEL (1951-2020) : A Ralph Poem from the Upcoming LA Special Issue of Pratik

 

RALPH ANGEL

Untitled (A flurry of snow)

 


A flurry of snow

 

Three birds

in a row

 

The kind of light you could

paint to

 

 

I learned to stand on a wall of water

and to fall

 

down the bougainvilla

 

The night always

still

 

the moon beneath the wind

 

 

My body

demands of your echo

 

my body

My body sinks like a butterfly

 

like a handful of lamplight

and crickets

 

 

Yip yip coyote

 

The echo born in my heart

upon your mirror

 

reflected

 

A renowned  American poet, teacher, mentor Ralph Angel passed away in March, 2020. His latest poetry collection, Your Moon, was awarded the Green Rose Poetry Prize, and is available from New Issues Press. And entropia, thirty-one images, is just out from the fine art photography publisher, Dark Spring Press. Strays, a limited-edition chapbook of poems, is just out, too.  During his prestigious career, Ralph  received countless awards, including a PEN USA Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Gertrude Stein Award, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship. He was the Edith R. White Distinguished Professor at the University of Redlands for 39 years, and a member of the MFA in Writing faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is survived by his wife Mary Angel.




Friday, December 18, 2020

An Excerpt from the Current Issue : American poet David B. Austell's tribute to Harlem Renaissance Hero, James Weldon Johnson

 

DAVID B. AUSTELL

Marshaling the Milliards

Religious and Political Entanglement in the Poetry of James Weldon Johnson


 
INTRODUCTION

If a traveler from an antique land1 were to walk down West 4th Street in Greenwich Village just past Washington Square East and down a bit to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at New York University, skirting the security guard and down to the building’s lower level, there he would find a modest space with a small plaque identifying it as the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Classroom. This is a tribute to the first African American professor at NYU and the first such at any predominately white university in the United States. As a teacher, lawyer, diplomat, political leader, public intellectual, and author of poetry and prose, James Weldon Johnson was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Although he was born a southerner, he was a participant in the Great Migration, and much of his professional life took place in Manhattan during the early years of the 20th century at the mid-point of the negro nadir,2  an era of fierce oppression and degradation of African Americans in the United States. For such a time as this, Johnson would leave an indelible mark on the early civil rights movement as he helped marshal the milliards of African Americans into the early ranks of activists and protesters. He was well-suited for the task.  For ten years (1920 to 1930) Johnson was the first executive secretary of the NAACP.  Prior to this, he served as U.S. Consul General to both Venezuela and to Nicaragua during the Roosevelt and Taft presidential administrations (1906 to 1913). His literary life was both provocative and comforting, inciting and insightful, and his literary opus is always considered in terms of the great works of the Harlem Renaissance.  Moreover, Johnson compiled, anthologized, and published key volumes of African American arts and letters: The Book of American Negro Poetry (1921), and The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925). More recently perhaps, Johnson has been to a degree overshadowed by other luminaries of the Renaissance: W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker.  The unassuming classroom at NYU somehow exemplifies this.  Nonetheless, Johnson’s legacy is undeniable in African-American political life and the literary avant-garde of the Harlem Renaissance.3

BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1871 to James Johnson, a successful head-waiter at St. James Hotel in Jacksonville during Florida’s early expansion as a tourist destination, and Helen Dillet Johnson of the Bahamas. Johnson’s younger brother, Rosamond Johnson, became a musician and composer (his most famous composition, often referred to as the “Negro National Anthem,” is the immortal Lift Every Voice and Sing with lyrics by James Weldon Johnson).  Both studied at the segregated Stanton School in Jacksonville where their mother was a teacher.  At an early age, James Weldon Johnson and his brother were introduced to the intense spiritual life of Jacksonville through the family’s membership in Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church with its liturgy steeped in the rich language of the King James Bible and its spiritual practices rooted in Africa (Johnson’s venerable Aunt Venie was a religious enthusiast and the “champion of the ring shouters…the music an African chant, and the shout an African dance, the whole pagan rite transplanted and adapted to Christian worship”4  W.E.B. Du Bois would refer to this as the frenzy5).  At age sixteen, James matriculated at Atlanta University from which he graduated in 1894. Rosamond would receive his undergraduate musical training at the New England Conservatory.  It was in Atlanta that Johnson had his first deepened sense of the “ramifications of race prejudice and an understanding of the American race problem”; at Atlanta University, he experienced the awakening awareness of the “peculiar responsibilities due to [his] own racial group” which his education at Atlanta University was preparing

him to meet.6 After graduating from AU, Johnson returned to the Stanton School in Jacksonville. He became its Principal in 1906.  During this period, Johnson also “read the law,” taking the Bar Exam in Florida in 1897 and subsequently becoming the first African-American to be admitted to the Florida State Bar.  James and Rosamond moved to New York City at the fin de siècle, and Johnson remained politically active even while he and Rosamond briefly formed a musical duo.  By 1906, Johnson had entered the United States Foreign Service traveling to Nicaragua as U.S. Consul General.  His life during this period was not unmitigated labor. The brilliant and refined New Yorker, Grace Nail, had captured Johnson’s attention during the time he and his brother were performing in the city, and in 1910 (the middle of his deployment abroad, during which his most famous work of prose was written, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man) James and Grace were married. Upon their return from diplomatic life and re-entry into the life of New York City, Johnson became involved with the newly formed NAACP (as a field organizer and later as the organization’s first Executive Secretary beginning in 1920).  Protesting the race riots in St. Louis in 1917, Johnson organized a “silent parade” of over ten thousand black New Yorkers of all ages; W.E.B. Du Bois led the drum corps of muffled and silent drums.7  From its inception, W.E.B. Du Bois had envisioned the NAACP as an “interracial organization, [and given his education and background] James Weldon Johnson was hired because he could mix with all kinds of people.”8 This skill was critical since both black and white members would be necessary to tackle the huge political challenges associated with the increasing lawlessness of southern states towards their African Americans residents, and the increasing frequency of race riots in northern states. Johnson’s leadership activities included opening new chapters of the NAACP, expanding its influence, and directly lobbying for key legislation, the most important of which at the time was the 1921 Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill which had passed the House only to become derailed in the bitter race politics of the Senate.9  Johnson would lead the NAACP until his retirement from the organization in 1930. 

Intertwined with his myriad talents was Johnson’s dedication to the Muse. He was a poet, a key member of the Harlem literati, and to use David Howard-Pitney’s construct, a writer of verse jeremiads, deep public lamentations of the horrid racism against which Johnson organized his political life. His poetry, one of the great outpourings of the Harlem Renaissance, cut at the notion of American exceptionalism, for no country could continue as a “promised land” where unalienable rights were violently withheld from its most vulnerable inhabitants.10 The poems were also warnings for white Americans that race-hatred was morally degrading and spiritually corrupting. Johnson’s poetry, as all good poetry must, exists on several planes. In his early writings, he experimented with the use of dialect, which he later turned away from, only to return again to dialect as the authentic echoes of a past which was rapidly slipping away.11 This is the context of God’s Trombones, Johnson’s masterwork of 1927.  Johnson’s poems were at times framed in poetic forms common to the day (i.e., quatrains, tightly organized rhyme-schemes, iambic pentameter). However, in his preface, Johnson states that African American poets must “find a form that will express the racial spirit by symbols from within rather than by symbols from without.12 Johnson chose not to write God’s Trombones in dialect in order to capture the KJV-laced language used by the old-time preacher, to move away from stereotypes of black preachers of the South, and to demonstrate that black folk-life could be the substantive basis for a new poetics. What emerged was a hybrid, a new exposition of folk-preaching in which secular themes were encased in the full metal jacket of African American religiosity. 

POETRY AND TROPE

In God’s Trombones, as well as many other examples of his verse, James Weldon Johnson’s literary work exemplifies what Dr. Josef Sorett has identified as the “trope of black sacred/secular fluidity” where trope is identified as more than a repeating figure of speech (a riff in jazz terms). In Dr. Sorett’s framework, trope refers to a recurring tendency in studies of black religion in the United States demonstrating that African American religiosity and polity, the sacred and the secular, are intertwined, entangled in an interactive, fluid manner.13 Moreover, Sorett’s trope can be seen as adhering to Schlegel’s concept of historicism: that social and cultural behavior (here, intertwined/entangled, sacred/secular activities) are historically determined.14 

 (To read the rest of the essay, please get a copy of the current Issue of Pratik Magazine)





David B. Austell, Ph.D., is Associate Provost and Director of the International Students and Scholars Office at Columbia University in New York City where he is also an Associate Professor of International Education in Teachers College-Columbia University.  In 1992, he was a Fulbright Fellow in Japan and Korea.   David’s third book of poetry, The Tin Man, regarding the life of Saint Joseph of Arimathea, has been published by Nirala.   






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Thursday, December 10, 2020

Virtual Readings : Poetry in Tumultuous Times -- Cultivating Voices' Pratik Special Reading Review by Rhony Bhopla


Poetry in Tumultuous Times

Cultivating Voices featuring Pratik Magazine. November 22, 2020



Literary communities around the world continue to widen their circles in spite of the global pandemic. Seasoned writers are taking on innovative roles in the digital sphere to introduce their fresh works to newer audiences. They are emerging in the online world with the most unexpected collaborations.

The latest issue of Pratik Magazine led to one such collaboration involving celebrated poets from Ireland, United States, Canada, Italy, and more.The reading was hosted by Cultivating Voices Live Poetry and the gracious host, Sandra Yannone, with Technician-in-Charge, Don Krieger.

The quarterly magazine Pratik, founded by Nepalese poet Hari Adhikary in 1979, began as a Nepali language publication. Several distinguished Nepalese poets like Mohan Koirala and others were involved with the publication until it was later revamped as an English language literary magazine in 1990. At that time, Yuyutsu Sharma became the Editor and continued to  publish the magazine until 2003. During the online reading, Yuyutsu described how he would go to the Kathmandu Durbar Square every day after teaching Shakespeare at the Tri-Chandra College of Tribhuvan University, and sit in a one-room letter press run by two young Newar brothers. "It was in the heart of the city near Kashtamandap, literarily meaning house of wood, another name for Kathmandu," he added.

Yuyutsu continued to publish the magazine for a decade, but his mother's death in 2002, and the grief that ensued, prevented his work on the publication. He traveled throughout Europe and North America and met many writers along the way. He then decided that it was time to bring back the magazine. He thought it would be an enjoyable opportunity to introduce the illustrious poets he had met during his travels in the West to his audiences in the Indian Subcontinent where there was limited exposure to contemporary Western literature. More importantly, he wanted to translate and introduce Nepalese poets to the world at large. “Very little is known about contemporary Western poetry or available in English or translation with the exception of a few figures like TS Eliot and Allen Ginsberg,” he discerned.

I was excited about the reading, but little did I know that I would have the opportunity to hear such an accomplished set of writers such as Charles Bernstein, Tony Barnstone, Chard DeNiord, Grant Hier, Seymore Mayne, Jill Hoffman, Gloria Mindock, Kerrin McCadden, Faminia Cruciani, Bill Wolak, Judith Mok, Gerard Beirne, Sydney Lea, Ute Margaret Saine, Cleopatra Mathis, Suzanne Lummis, Patricia Carragon, Chuck Joy, Jack Grady, and Howard Pflanzer.

The event began with Charles Bernstein, an American literary scholar known as a member of the Language Poets. As with all of the poets, Bernstein has multiple literary achievements, prizes, and acknowledgements to his name. Every poet read precisely and with heart, showcasing their life-long dedication to the literary arts. Social justice themes were woven into their poems. We heard from Tony Barnstone, who read a vivid narrative poem on bullying. His final piece was a solemn reflection on domestic violence. The poem relayed acompelling account of guilt felt by the speaker having known something wrong was happening next door, a battering of a helpless woman.Yet, the speaker himself expressed helplessness.

Vermont Poets were grandly represented in the reading, and with no exception, Chard DeNiord, Vermont’s Poet Laureate Emeritus, read a lulling short lyrical poem, and another with remarkable metaphors such as “bone in heart” likened to a tuning fork.

Jill Hoffman, the Editor of Mudfish, delivered her poems with a voice charged with certainty.Her first poem “Aubade” began with lines:

Say I was in the Camps

and my friends were all gone

and walking around me as memories

in their gray striped pajamas

not lying in the bay of skeletons anymore

naked

and my dog was licking my cunt

And Felix Nussbaum was painting barbed wire

like a necklace of lace

with a few prisoners penned in

one shitting on a tall can

and I was in love with him

but couldn’t show it

because he was dead…

Hoffman, also a painter, included ekphrastic elements in her work with a reference to Felix Nussbaum a German-Jewish surrealist painter.

Kerrin McCadden read moving elegies for her brother who lost his life to the U.S. Opioid Crisis. Her writing process included mining words from a President Nixon speech which was to be read in case the moon landing failed. The extracted words formed poems with a solemn tone and meaning in the context of McCadden’s brother. Her powerful set ended with the starkness of numbers: “I add him to 72,000/and subtract him from me.”

Then to Rome. Flaminia Cruciana read her work in Italian, while Yuyutsu Sharma, in Kathmandu, read the English translation. It was a remarkable demonstration of how the limits of the pandemic brought together two people across thousands of miles. Cruciana is an archaeologist and Near East scholar who has worked in pre-historic Ebla, Syria. Her compassion for the Syrian villagers has influenced her writing, and was evident in her passionate elocution.

Every poet read with zeal much like in an in-person live reading.We were all together in the energy of the present moment and with each poem.The reading closed with American poet, playwright, and fiction writer Howard Pflanzer whose poems were infused with a call to action on behalf of those silenced. He began in the voice of a migrant at the Tijuana-San Diego border. For his final poem, Pflanzer shared that 15 years ago, he had been pulled over by the police for walking alone at 2 a.m. It was not until recently that he had written about the experience:“Where are you going?...Identify yourself!...to them I was a White drug dealer/not the usual dark-skinned prey…"

And when the cops left:

            I stood there alone for a moment

            caught my breath

            and continued walking towards 14th Street

            understanding clearly who the cops were that night

            and the deadly threat to those with dark skin.

Cultivating Voices Live Poetry is a virtual reading series which started in March 2020 to help writers “summon their strength and promote social unity through the literary arts.” This reading was one such occasion where contributors to Pratik Magazine brought with their works humor, melancholy, wisdom, encouragement, social commentary, and literary craft. Both Sandra and Yuyutsu talked about the challenges of isolation and how they missed seeing their poetry colleagues in the customary ways that poets meet. Yet, this event brought poets and audiences together in a space of unity and appreciation. 

⏤⏤⏤⏤⏤


Rhony Bhopla is a British Indo-American poet and visual artist residing in Sacramento, California. Her poems have appeared in Cosumnes River Journal, Convergence, Medusa’s Kitchen, and Brevities.Her recent visual art piece, The Indian Accent, is showing in the Crocker Art Museum’s Studio Selections 2020 Exhibit. Rhonyis in her second year in the MFA in Writing program at Pacific University.

 

 



Rhony Bhopla



 

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Sunday, November 29, 2020

From Pratik's Current Issue: "Temples of Stone" by Indian poet HK Kaul (1941-2020)

 

H.K. KAUL

1941-2020

 



Temples of Stone

 

Gods in the valley are alone now.

No watchmen around

No worshippers either.

 

Where have the worshippers gone

Who flocked every morning

Circling gods with charters of demands?

 

They left for safer havens

With family, gold, lost glitter.

Left gods alone in the chambers.

 

In the stones, in the temples

In the temples of stone

Knowing well gods will rise

When stones around will begin to melt

Seeing strewn arms, heads and torsos

Rising from battlefields to life

Taking new forms for the new worshippers.



Founder Director, DELNET-Developing Library Network and Founder Secretary-General and President, The Poetry Society (India), H. K. Kaul was born in Kashmir, India. He edited Journal of the Poetry Society (India) and authored more than a dozen poetry collections including Firdaus in Flames and In the Islands of Grace. 








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Monday, November 16, 2020

Cultivating Voices hosts a reading to celebrate the Fall 2020 issue with current and past contributors.

Join Cultivating Voices host Sandy Yannone as we welcome Himalayan Poet Yuyutsu RD Sharma, editor of Pratik: A Magazine of Contemporary Writing, for a reading to celebrate the Fall 2020 issue with current and past contributors. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/663288314371227



SELECT PRATIK POETS TO READ AT THE EVENT ARE

Charles Bernstein

Tony Barnstone

Chard DeNiord

Grant Hier

Yuyutsu Sharma

Jill Hoffman

Kerrin McCadden,

Bill Wolak

Judith Mok

Gerard Bernie

Suzanne Lummis

Flaminia Cruciani

Patricia Carragon

Seymour Mayne

Sydney Lea

Cleopatra Mathis

Gloria Mindock

Chuck Joy

Jack Grady

Margaret Saine

Howard Pflanzer




Highlights of the Current Issue:

Art, Poetry and Music collaboration;

Dreams of a Sleeping World;

Art of Oscar Oiwa;

Plus an interview with Hollywood Musician Chad Cannon


EIGHT POETS FROM VERMONT:

Chard deNiord  David Huddle Tony Whedon  Major Jackson Cleopatra Mathis  Joan Aleshire  Kerrin McCadden  Karin Gottshall   Sydney Lea


DAVID B. AUSTELL

Marshaling the Milliards

A tribute to Harlem Renaissance Hero, James Weldon Johnson


Four Poets from Nicaragua

Ernesto Cardenal, Rubén Darío,  Salomón de la Selva, Joaquín Pasos


A SHEAF OF OTTAWA POEMS

Shai Ben-Shalom, Seymour Mayne  Nicola Vulpe, Betty Warrington-Kearsley, Erwin Wiens


ELEVEN  ITALIAN POETS

Claudia Russo,  Flaminia Cruciani,   

Rita Stanzione, Zairo Ferrante, 

Paolo Staglianò, Antonello Airò, 

Cinzia Marulli, Gabriella Becherelli,  Vittorio Fioravanti Grasso,          

Antonio Blund, Adriana Scanferla


Featuring

DAVID AXELROD

CHARLES BERNSTEIN

JILL HOFFMAN

BILL WOLAK

MIKE GRAVES 

PATRICIA CARRAGON


Plus New Work by GLORIA MINDOCK 

& HOWARD PFLANZER


Afterlife: Two Poems by H.K. KAUL (1941-2020)


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Thursday, November 12, 2020

American poet Jill Hoffman's new poem, "Prose" from Pratik's Current Issue

 

JILL HOFFMAN

Prose

 





To write it is to give it up

like vomiting

which I did one night

arms around the base of the toilet bowl.

 

You know you are going to pay the price.

It’s just a question of how much

and maybe when.

Echoes adhere to everything and make us humble,

 

the dagger upheld against the breast,

remembering

who said what when.

This prose commitment to daily life, to describing

 

what he was like in bed

and moving over and turning

over over and over

till he is gone, and it is you.

 

There is even a little dog

and a bench and a garden,

I am playing a mandolin, he proffers flowers,

the whole Meissen arbor

guarded by chicken wire

and razor-ribboned around,

with a tiny gold

padlock

 

that only a change of

attitude can open,

like a can of worms

that turns to gold.


Founding Editor of Mudfish, American poet, Jill Hoffman has taught in major universities (Bard, Barnard, Brooklyn, Columbia) and published in major magazines, such as The New Yorker and Paris Review. She has led the Mudfish writing workshop in Tribeca since 1990. She is also a painter.

 



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