Chicago Poet: Li-Young Lee

The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

Lee, Li-Young. 1986. Rose  (Brockport, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd.)

National Poetry Month-We Hardly Knew Ye (Part 1)

We’ve reached the end of National Poetry Month (3 scant days left) and if you’re like me, you haven’t done much celebrating this month. Don’t worry, there are still a number of poetry events you can attend in and around the city , year-round poetry organizations that you can join, and, of course, a host of local bookstores that you can visit.

Poetry Events:

Poetry Fest

April 30, 2011 10:00-4:30pm

Price: Free!!

Where: Harold Washington Library

400 S. State St.

Chicago, IL 60605

Come on out for poetry workshops, readings, open mics, and a special reading by Nikki Giovanni (2:00-3:00). All events are free and open to the public, but seating is first come, first served. For more information and a complete listing of times, click here.

 

National Poetry Month Cram

April 30, 2011  7-9pm

Price: Free!!

                                Where: Café Ballou

939 N. Western Ave.

Chicago, IL 60622

Join the creators and editors of Cram as they celebrate the release of their 11th volume. Poets included in the edition will be reading and everyone who attends will receive at least one free copy of the volume.  

“In One Ear” poetry night

Wednesdays 10:00pm

Price $3  

Where: Heartland Café (Neighborhood: Rogers Park)

7000 N. Glenwood Ave.

Chicago, IL 60626

773-46-8005

Five-minute performances range from spoken word and poetry to music and visual art. Pete Wolf hosts. Performances are videotaped unless otherwise requested. Food available for purchase.

Tuesday Funk

Every 1st Tuesday of the Month 7:30pm

Price: Free!!

Where:  Hopleaf (Neighborhood: Andersonville)

5148 N. Clark St.

Chicago, IL 60640

773-334-9851

Hear fiction, poetry and essays from featured local writers.

For more poetry and literature events happening in and around the city check out Metromix or Poets.org.

April’s Random Literary Thought!

Check out this month’s Random Literary Thought:

Shakespeare and National Poetry Month

As a student of English – specifically concentrating in Creative Writing – it would be almost blasphemous not to mention Sir William Shakespeare in the anniversary month of his death. Also it’s ironic (coincidental or deliberate) that April also happens to be National Poetry Month. A few enthusiasts of poetry and I have decided to embark on a 30-day challenge where we write a poem a day for the whole month…read more