a conversation in poetry with stephanie roberts

BURNING HOUSE PRESS

by Amee Nassrene Broumand

I invited poet and artist stephanie roberts — who has poems on Burning House Press and in The Arsonist Magazine — to trade lines of poetry with me. I’d never collaborated with another poet before, so the experience was something of a leap into the unknown. We began emailing poem shreds back and forth. The days flowed by, as did the weeks; the lines formed and shifted. Soon, a poem emerged —

(α)  ANB:

Lacewings quake in the crepitation of thistles

& reeds. Crickets creak wintled heartbeats dry.

 

(β)  stephanie roberts:

It would have been perfect, the river remapped boundary;

the embryonic recreates in its image.

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BLACKBIRDS by stephanie roberts

The Rising Phoenix Review

BLACKBIRDS

for frank o’hara

toni morrison would say, he dragged that child by her hair. her hair!
her fellow red-wingeds sprang to her like mama blue jay
will come at you, gloves to the ground, and flat out belt you
in the head if jay jr. is sitting on the patio table.

just bikinis and bare feet, they flapped around—rage-afraid.
their Girl pressed through the earth, in her pink triangles,
with that brute of a crow perched—glock and badge fists
wound in the braid of tender feathers under authority’s uniform sneer.

a thirty-something, forty-something, fifty-something, sixty…
rat, in khaki cargo shorts, tan polo shirt, ubiquitous go-team baseball cap
and sandals, strolls past mayhem as a ten year-old colonialist unnotices
a slave auction or a southern man a lynching. scarecrows off-duty
compassion’s cornfield.

across and over patio tables of devilled eggs, seven-layer dip,
barbecue chicken, collards, codfish, patacones, suya,
satay, tamales…

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I used to say…

 

and believe, rather diplomatically, I thought that artists do not have more feelings imagethan people that are less artistically inclined (whatever that means), but now I don’t know. I am not 100% sure tonight under the hunter moon.

There is a power in the saying and expressing. An artist is a soul tricorder. I am so, so, so very moved, challenged, and encouraged by the openness and willingness of artists to be vulnerable with each other, me, and the world.  Tonight, at the very least, I feel them to be a greater kind of human. A human with the ability to fill your thirsty soul through their sighing and crying.

the historian ibn khaldun once said

“To write is to risk being misread or misunderstood. Words that survive their author are cut loose. They drift, take new shape, sprout new meanings. And there is always their ordinary ambiguity.”

I have taken a little bit of heat for my short stories that I do not feel is justified. After giving the criticism some consideration, I’ve concluded my stories are not for everyone, and misunderstanding can’t be avoided. Some people can only hear what they already believe.

on responsibility

It is the responsibility of the serious writer to remind the reader of their mortality. Whether that be through the visceral communication of the beauty and humour of humanity and creation, or the humility of impending tragedy, either work puts to good use the time of the writer and the reader.