Sunday, July 21, 2024

Thought for the Day

We must take the feeling of being at home into exile.
We must be rooted in the absence of place.
~ Simone Weil
Quoted from Simone Weil, Gravity & Grace (Bison, 1997), Trans. Arthur Wills

Simone Weil (1909-1943), French Philosopher, Writer, Political Activist, Religious Mystic

See Simone Weil's Gravity & Grace at The Anarchist Library.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Thought for the Day

The real gift of doing the work is getting to do it alongside
writers you admire, and to share some decoration with them
is an added joyful bonus.
~ Hanif Abdurraqib

Quoted from Hanif Abdurraqib's Statement on Being Awarded Campbell-Windam Literature Prize, Nonfiction, 2024
Hanif Abdurraqib, American Writer, Essayist, and Poet; Podcaster, "Object of Sound"

Campbell-Windam Prizes

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Thought for the Day

[. . .] The shameless shall inherit the earth,
while the blameless grapple with the mess they make of it.
~ Frank Bruni 

Quoted from Frank Bruni, "There is apparently no accountability – ever – for Donald Trump" (Opinion), The New York Times, July 4, 2024
Frank Bruni, American Journalist, Author, Contributing Writer for The New York Times

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Thought for the Day

Everything is capable of a once upon a time, [. . .]
Lauren Camp

Quoted from Lauren Camp, "Lecture on Nothing" in An Eye In Each Square (River River Books, 2023), p. 72

Lauren Camp, Prize-Winning Poet; Poet Laureate of New Mexico; Instructor, Poetry Out Loud New Mexico; Senior Fellow, Black Earth Institute; Visual Artist

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Thought for the Day

To reread a beloved book after a long time away is always
a great risk. [. . .] for a book that is more than merely a favorite,
a book that has a hand in creating you, the risk of loss is even
greater. [. . .] if you were to lose that book, you would feel that
you had lost some necessary part of yourself. [. . .]
~ Margaret Renkl

Quoted from Margaret Renkl, "I Reread a Book That Changed My Life, but I'd Changed, Too," The New York Times, June 3, 2024; Online

Margaret Renkl, Prize-Winning Writer and Author; Contributing Opinion Writer, The New York Times; Founding Editor, Chapter 16

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Thought for the Day

If I play you a piece of music,
that's when you can truly look inside me.
~ Hans Zimmer
Quoted from Transcript of Stephen Galloway Interview with Hans Zimmer at The Hollywood Reporter, November 3, 2014; Online. Also see Hans Zimmer Quotes at QuoteFancy.

Hans Zimmer, Prolific and Influential German-born American Composer and Music Producer


Hans Zimmer on FaceBook and  Instagram

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Thought for the Day

Flowers are made to seduce the senses: fragrance, form, colour.

If you cannot be seduced by beauty, you cannot learn
the wisdom of ugliness.
~ H.D.

Quoted from H.D., "Notes on Thoughts and Vision" in Visions and Ecstasies (David Zwirner Books, 2019), p. 28

H.D. (1886-1961), American Poet, Novelist, Memoirist, Essayist, Critic, Writer of Children's Books, and Translator

Note: H.D. was the pen name of Hilda Doolittle.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Thought for the Day

We look at the world once, in childhood. /
The rest is memory.
~ Louise Gluck

Quoted from Louise Gluck, "Nostos" in Meadowlands (Ecco/HarperCollins, 1996), p. 43

Louise Gluck (1943-2023), American Poet and Essayist; Winner, 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature; U.S. Poet Laureate, 2003-2004

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Thought for the Day

You change the world and yourself by changing
your thoughts. And first, you change yourself. And
then maybe you change the world. And then maybe
you help somebody else in their moment of great
despair – or their moment of great joy.
~ Jane Hirshfield

Quoted from "Ezra Klein Interviews Jane Hirshfield: What a Poetic Mind Can Teach Us About How to Live" (Online Transcript from The Ezra Klein Show at The New York Times), March 3, 2023

Jane Hirshfield, Poet, Essayist, Translator

Jane Hirshfield Profiles at Academy of American Poets and Poetry Foundation

Jane Hirshfield on FaceBook

Sunday, May 19, 2024

I'm seeing humanity as at the mouth
of a very long dark tunnel, and right
at the end is a little star – that's hope.
~ Jane Goodall 

Quoted from Ralph Blumenthal, "What's Next for Jane Goodall? An Immersive Spectacle in Tanzania" at The New York Times, April 9, 2024; Online (Subscription Required)

Jane Goodall (1934 – ), Primatologist, Environmental Activist; Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; United Nations Messenger of Peace; "Dr. Jane's Dream" at Arusha Cultural Heritage Center, Tanzania

Roots & Shoots (for Youth)

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Thought for the Day

Sunrise [. . .] is a state of the heart.
Sunrise is the space where nighttime fears
move aside for hope, where we feel peace
about our mortality in the scope of the universal
truth that love abides.
~ Becca Stevens
Quoted from Becca Stevens, Letters from the Farm: A Simple Path for a Deeper Spiritual Life (New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2015), pp. 24-25, 29
Becca Stevens, Priest; Author; Social Entrepreneur; Founder, Thistle Farms

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Thought for the Day

History says, don't hope / On  this side of the grave. /
But then, once in a lifetime / The longed-for tidal wave /
Of justice can rise up, / And hope and history rhyme.
~ Seamus Heaney

Quoted from Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991 (Reprint Ed.)

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), Irish Poet, Playwright; Recipient, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1995

Biography at The Nobel Prize

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Thought for the Day

We need art to explore the darkest recesses of our lives and minds.
But we also need art to tell us why this world is
worth loving, and therefore saving.
~ Christian Wiman

Quoted from Christian Wiman, "The Poet of Light" (Essay) in The New York Times, January 12, 2018 (Online)

Christian Wiman, Poet, Essayist, Translator, Editor, Author; Clement-Muehl Professor of Communication Arts, Yale Divinity School; Former Editor, Poetry Magazine

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Thought for the Day

What songs are audible when the wind stops?
What has been kept alive in the time snatched from work
and sheltered from ongoing destruction – what moments
of recognition, what ways of relating, what other
imagined worlds, what other selves? 
What other kinds of time?
~ Jenny Odell on 'Vertical' Time

Quoted from Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, "Another Kind of Time: An Interview with Jenny Odell" at Emergence Magazine (Online Transcript), April 25, 2023

Jenny Odell, Multidisciplinary Artist, Writer, and Educator. Odell's most recent books are Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock (2023), Inhabiting the Negative Space (2021), and How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (2019).

Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Filmmaker, Naqshbandi Sufi Teacher, Spiritual Ecologist; Founder, Podcast Host, and Executive Editor, Emergence Magazine

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Thought for the Day

When we see the smoke and flames on the horizon
are we seeing not just a fire but a reflection
of our own voracious appetites and desire
to consume until we're finally extinguished?
~ Jeffrey T. Manuel on John Vaillant's 'Fire Weather'

Quoted from Jeffrey T. Manuel, "Our Neighbo(u)rs to the North, Aflame: On John Vaillant's 'Fire Weather'," in Cleveland Review of Books, March 12, 2024

John Vaillant, American-Canadian Nonfiction Writer, Journalist, and Novelist
Jeffrey T. Manuel, Historian on Energy, Technology, and the Environment; Professor of History, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Writer and Author

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Thought for the Day

The most practical thing you can do,
even in hard times, is to lead with curiosity,
lead with respect, work hard to understand
the people you might be taught to detest.
~ David Brooks

David Brooks, "How to Stay Sane in Brutalizing Times," The New York Times, November 2, 2023

David Brooks, Author and New York Times Opinion Columnist on Politics, Culture, and the Social Sciences

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Thought for the Day

Nobody will give you freedom . . .
you have to take it.
~ Meret Oppenheim 


Quoted from Meret Oppenheim, Acceptance Speech, City of Basel Art Award, 1975

Meret Oppenheim (1913-1975), Swiss Artist, Photographer, Poet

Note: See The Loveliest Vowel Empties: Collected Poems of Meret Oppenheim, trans. Kathleen Heil (World Poetry Books, February 2023).

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Thought for the Day

Love is convinced that it is the source of life,
and life is convinced that without it, love is
nothing. And in fact, nonhuman life on Earth,
which is most life, has no need for love. Love
is necessary for humans, because without it 
we are destroyers of worlds, and with it, we
still struggle not to be destroyers.
~ Fady Joudah

Quoted from Aria Aber, "Fady Joudah: The poet on the war in Gaza changed his work" in The Yale Review, February 28, 2024 (Online)

Fady Joudah, Award-Winning Palestinian-American Poet, Writer, Translator, Co-Founder/Co-Editor, Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, Physician in Internal Medicine

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Flour Massacre (Poem)

 Flour Massacre

        This bag of flour [. . .] it's
            the most expensive food ever made.
            ~ Mohammed al-Simry, father of four

On Leap Year Day, aid trucks at last
arrive, and the crowd, having gathered
in al-Rashid Street the night before,
makes for the goods.
Once, what came before the trucks
with their sacks of flour, 
before the bread to be baked
and then heaped with hummus,  
before the fattoush salad,
the soups of lentils and fava beans,
the eggs or chicken,
the copper pitchers of sous,
was the anticipation of taste,
the clarity of a satisfied stomach,
eyes delighting at the sight
of knafeh and date-filled ma'mool

It is four forty-five a.m.,
the morning of February 29,
and the trucks arrive.

So, too, do the soldiers.
Look: they are anywhere,
even everywhere, 
the aid trucks are.

But these soldiers,
they make no exceptions
for the food-deprived.
They feel the hunger.

Dropped sacks of flour
dust the heads  
of hundreds, there
in al-Rashid Street.

No one clamors now
for bread. 
No bread
will be made this day.


For articles on the event that has come to be known as the "Flour Massacre," see Zaina Arafat's essay "Fasting for Ramadan While Gaza Goes Hungry" (The New Yorker, March 11, 2024) and Simon Speakman Cordall, Mohammed R Mhawish, and Mat Nashed's reporting, "When Israeli Soldiers Shot at Hungry Palestinians" (Aljazeera News, March 5, 2024).

Fattoush is a type of Middle Eastern (Lebanese) chopped salad that uses, among other ingredients, pomegranate molasses, sumac and other herbs, mixed greens and vegetables, and toasted pita chips.

Sous, or erk sous, is a licorice drink typically imbibed during Ramadan.

Knafeh is a cheese-filled sweet made with filo dough and ma'mool are sweet cookies, often stuffed with dates.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Thought for the Day

I think self-promotion is a really bad idea for
a couple of reasons – the greatest of which is 
that you start thinking that public attention is
how you know your work is good. Applause and acclaim
 are not how you know something has quality.
~ Scott Cairns

Quoted from Ben Palpant, "A Conversation with Scott Cairns" (Online), The Rabbit Room, February 26, 2024

Scott Cairns, Poet, Spiritual Writer and Memoirist; Professor of English and Director, M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Seattle University; Blogger and Podcaster

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Thought for the Day

[. . .] We must learn how to be surprised,
not to adjust ourselves. [. . .]
~ Abraham Joshua Heschel

Quoted in Tali Sharot and Cass R. Sunstein, "Why People Fail to Notice Horrors Around Them" (Guest Essay), The New York Times, February 25, 2024

Dr. Tali Sharot, Neuroscientist, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cass R. Sunstein, Law Professor, Harvard University; Founder and Director, Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy, Harvard Law School

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), Jewish Theologian and Philosopher; Author

Arnold Eisen, "The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua Heschel" at On Being, September 21,  1917

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Thought for the Day

The correct response to uncertainty is mythmaking.
~ Martin Shaw

Quoted from Martin Shaw, "Navigating the Mysteries," Emergence, May 12, 2022

Dr. Martin Shaw, Mythologist and Storyteller; Author, Translator and Poet

Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, "Mud and Antler Bone: An Interview with Martin Shaw," Emergence, June 4, 2018

Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Children / We See (Poem)

 The Children / We See

            What childhood does /
            a destroyed childhood beget?
                    ~ Fady Joudah
We see them –
the children
rummaging through the fallen
fortress that once was Gaza
Their urge –
to eat, sleep, play
to wake as if free
like the kites
they fly in hope
their dreams
of so many seeds
their grandfathers sowed
when the land was theirs
to harvest
and they could
taste the white cucumbers
the figs and the olives
Battiri eggplant, gourds
with necks like swans'

These children –
we see them
what they've become
what they would give
for a taste of khubeezeh
a drink of cold water
a wash in the Red Sea

They push their steel pots
their plastic bowls
to the front lines
their eyes on those
with the stronger arms
the longer reach
the elbows out and ready
They are children –
we see them
know what they teach us
what war does
how power takes
on a life of its own
delivering back
their small bodies
into the arms of their fathers
borne too early of their mothers
denied them


The epigraph is from Fady Joudah's poem "[. . .]."

Khubeezeh, as locally known in Gaza, is cheeseweed. It has become, according to the United Nations, a major food source for Gazans. A plant, it typically has been used in recipes for side dishes.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Thought for the Day

Hope is a song in a weary throat.
~ Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray

Quoted from Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, Verse 8, Dark Testament and Other Poems (Liveright Publishing Corp./W.W. Norton, 2018)

Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray (1910-1985), Lawyer/Legal Scholar,  Poet, Episcopal Priest, Civil Rights Activist
Pauli Murray Center, Durham, North Carolina 

Note: On February 22, 2024, the U.S. Mint released the new Pauli Murray quarter. (See American Women Quarters Program.)

Listen to Murray's Dark Testament, Verse 8 at SoundCloud.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Thought for the Day

We ask of writers what we ask of our friends,
to help us mediate and interpret the world.
~ Hosam Zowa in My Friends

Quoted from Hisham Matar, My Friends (Random House, 2024)

Hisham Matar, Award-Winning Novelist, Memoirist, and Essayist; Fellow, Royal Society of Literature; Associate Professor, Professional Practice in Comparative Literature, Asia and Middle East Cultures, and English, Barnard College, Columbia University

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Thought for the Day

What is the worth of defending our lives
if we do not seek to protect the lives of others?
~ Viet Thanh Nguyen

Quoted from Viet Thanh Nguyen, "Palestine Is in Asia: An Asian American Argument for Solidarity" in The Nation, January 29, 2024

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California; Novelist; Fiction and Nonfiction Writer; Editor; Winner, 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Thought for the Day

[. . .] the truest thing about being human
– the thing deepest down in us –
is not sin but the divine image.
~ Barbara Brown Taylor

Quoted from Isaac Anderson, "A Conversation with Barbara Brown Taylor" in Image, Issue 97; Online Archive

Barbara Brown Taylor, Episcopal Priest, Teacher, Writer and Author

Barbara Brown Taylor on FaceBook

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Thought for the Day

Finding time for anything that matters
will always be a challenge. [. . .] 
~ Margaret Renkl

Quoted from Margaret Renkl, "The Nicest New Year's Resolution I Ever Made," The New York Times, November 21, 2021

Margaret Renkl, Writer, Author, Essayist, Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York Times; Founding Editor, Chapter 16, Humanities Tennessee

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Thought for the Day

[. . .] How lovely 
it would be to become something
that cannot be contained; to become
something so present, yet so far out
of reach that no man even thinks of trying
to lay his hands on it.
~ Tariq Luthun

Quoted from Tariq Luthun, "I Felt Nothing" in How the Water Holds Me (Bull City Press, 2019), p. 25

Tariq Luthun, Detroit, Michigan-born Poet; Kresge Arts in Detroit Fellow; Community Organizer, Data Consultant

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Thought for the Day

[...] what is more generous than a window?
~ Pat Schneider
Quoted from "The Patience of Ordinary Things" by Pat Schneider in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson, Eds. (Grayson Books, 2017), p. 33
Pat Schneider (1934-2020), American Poet and Writer
Susan Bruns Rowe, "A Profile of Pat Schneider" at Literary Mama, March/April 2021


Monday, January 8, 2024

Gaza Funeral (Poem)

The lucky are those who have someone
        to bury them when they die.
            ~ Doctor in Gaza 

The too-short truce was all the time
they had to bury the dead boy lying
in their rubbled apartment. Already
they'd waited four days, the body
of their 10-year-old wrapped in
a blanket providing no warmth,
his last rites un-mouthed, never
to be heard amid the later bombings.
On the fifth day, hurrying past
the broken skeletons of neighbors'
burned buildings, the father spied
the guava tree that children used
to climb for its juicy, sweet fruits.
In the sand, giving way to the fallen
harvest, the father dug a shallow
grave and left his boy to sleep.
The epigraph and some details for this poem come from Raja Abdulrahim's article, "As Gaza Losses Mount Under Strikes, Dignified Burials Are Another Casualty" in The New York Times, January 6, 2024.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Thought for the Day

[. . .] Light needs such quiet, gentle work.
~ Benjamin Cutler

Quoted from Benjamin Cutler, "An Invitation to Light" (This is the concluding line of Cutler's poem, which was published in The Shore in 2019, and, more recently, included in the Advent Project, Day 15, December 15, 2023, of Biola University's Center for Christianity, Culture &  the Arts.)

Benjamin Cutler, Poet; English Instructor, Swain County High School, North Carolina