Poems by Jacqueline Johnson

Mother Tongues III*

I.

Just think, all those tongues

all those people,

caught in the quickening wind.

Hindu speak, Arawak cry, African

bluesong, Hopi wail.

Can you see the spirits caught in

Babel’s confused tower?

Last night I dreamed it was standing upright.

There is a baby sitting on my knee,

I am in the center of a village.

I own its past and its future. Sometimes I

paint the generations with my hands.

II. Continue reading

LOOKING AT SEEING: DAVID HAMMONS AND THE POLITICS OF VISIBILITY

LOOKING AT SEEING: DAVID HAMMONS AND THE POLITICS OF VISIBILITY
BY Andrew Russeth POSTED 02/17/15

David Hammons photographed on September 2, 1980, in New York City. ©TIMOTHY GREENFIELD-SANDERS, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED/PORTRAIT COURTESY THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Last spring, Mike Spano, the mayor of Yonkers, New York, a city of about 200,000 that shares a border with the Bronx, delivered his State of the City Address at City Hall. After describing Yonkers as a destination for “new-economy” companies—a developer of shared workspaces, a brewery, and a wine-storage business—he announced that the artist David Hammons would be opening an art gallery in South Yonkers. Hammons, who lives in Brooklyn, was in the audience. Continue reading

The Prisoner as a Young Woman OITNB review by Jade Sharma

The Prisoner as a Young Woman

Orange is the New Black: Season 2
Now Streaming On Netflix

Jenji Kohan framework tends to be one in which an upper middle class attractive white woman who has been living a fairly sheltered life must contend with her world falling apart. In ‘Weeds” it’s the untimely death of Nancy Botwin’s husband leaving Nancy to figure out how to maintain her suburban lifestyle and raise her two kids. In OITHB, Piper Chapman, is engaged to be married and the expensive soap and her best friend Polly make is about hit Barney’s when her past rears it’s ugly head in the shape of a post-college lesbian relationship with an international drug trafficker. Just as Piper is about to marry a man and secure a conventional life, her ex-lover Alex gives her up and she is sentenced to a year in a minimum security prison.

After these inciting incident these women found themselves in the underbelly of society (for Nancy Botwin it’s the world of drug dealing; for Piper Chapman it’s prison.) The white washed polite world they grew up in still shows its mark as when Nancy Botwin bundles her weed in cutesy little packaging. Similarly, Chapman instead of throwing down with the prison chef, who she unwittingly insulted, she makes her a special lotion out of hot peppers to soothe her back pains. After being pushed out from the white upper crust and having to hustle to survive both Kohan’s main characters find strength they never knew they had, forming real connections with people who have never lived in their economic bracket, and like Walter White find a thrill in their new identities. They find the little badass inside their white girl body, and not only do these women survive, but most of the time thrive. Continue reading

The First Bad Man a Novel by Miranda July reviewed by Jade Sharma

WE DON’T NEED BAD MEN WHEN WE’VE GOT KOOKY CHICKS

 

The First Bad Man

A Novel By Miranda July

 

Miranda July is the master of quirky.. Quirky is a tightrope act, you risk being cheesy or falling into the surreal. Quirky is funny but not ha-ha funny.. Quirky gussies up reality with whimsy.  Quirky is nothing but original. It’s the end of a fish tail sink stopper  in the kitchen sink reality of literature.  Quirky narratives feature main characters that are generally solitary figure. They are earnest to a fault and their clothes are a custome of the absurd. Bow-ties are quirky. Drug use isn’t. Being awkward is quirky. Being mean isn’t. Quirky is endearing. There is nothing quirky about the Holocaust, cancer, or porn. Being quirky is to be so uncool that you are pretty cool. To be quirky is to hold a child-like wonder in the face of a cynical mean world. The world of the quirky is wholly populated by the haves and the have more’s with a soundtrack of people who were indoor children, whose quiet weird music came out college dorms, never roughed in the streets. Being quirky is a narrative device that is the creation solely of the 1st world.

“Who is this middle-aged woman in the blue Honda?” July begins her novel, introducing her narrator Cheryl, as an everywoman but when July begins giving us a tour into the interior space of our narrator we find she lives in a bubble, her attempts to navigate the social world gives us more than a few cringe-worthy moments as when dealing with her bully of a roommate Clee and her crazy obsession with a man 22 years her senior, Phillip.

Cheryl’s insights into the world at times feel alien, as she looks wide-eyed at the banal everyday and deconstructs to show us how exactly abused the world around is. Calling Beckett.  As when Cheryl observes a soap dispenser, “Someone took a large bottle of soap and poured into this serious looking machine.” or when July keenly observes the weird ways in which women observe their bodies, as when her boss Suzanne explains to her that she is pear shaped, “This is how your body is shaped. See? Teeny tiny on top and not so tiny on the bottom’ then she explained the illusion created by wearing dark colors on the bottom and bright colors on top. when I see other women with this color combination I check to see if they’re a pear too and they always are–two pears can’t fool each other” (5)

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