On a cold January night in Jackson Heights, an appreciative full house at Espresso
77 welcomed Sahar Muradi, who opened the First Tuesdays reading series for 2018. A writer, performer, and educator born in Afghanistan and raised in the U.S., she is the co-founder of the Afghan American artists and Writers Association and is a Kundiman Poetry Fellow and an AAWW Open City Fellow. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Stacy Doris Memorial Prize and a two-time recipient of the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award in Poetry. She read from her new chapbook, [GATES], as well as poems and works in progress.
From a review of [GATES]:
"Sahar Muradi makes sense of the fragments of memory, the broken buildings of Kabul, Mazar, and Panjsher, the innocence of childhood punctured by journey, a father's illness, losing a language, and the politics of a war uninvited. Muradi beckons you, asks how you 'authored poorer nations with the hope of freeing / others. The architects of what's left.' Indeed the political act of poetry in this fierce collection is a pained beauty that does not look away as it rebuilds the human starting with the heart."—Rajiv Mohabir
There was once. I remember. I think it must have been there. Just imagine.
I climbed your two vacuums and lost my breath. But I did not cry, seeing
the women in the field balance pots on their wisdom bumps.
Malalai was taking me home. "There will be apple orchards," she said. "And
fighting," laughed the driver, who was armed. I told him I was not scared, as
we hemmed the narrow mountainside to the sound of something I could
As always, host Richard Jefferey Newman created a crowdsourced cento from lines of poetry read at the open mic. As words and images are cobbled together from sometimes wildly disparate thoughts, the results are sometimes surreal and occasionally absurdly appropriate, like the parlor game Consequences, or Exquisite Corpse.
Here it is:
It was a time for control (1)
Long before you subjugated the lightning of the night (2)
One must, as lightning, strike oneself (3)
No pressure there (4)
Four days later we were praying for elimination (5)
Yet somehow, guilty feeling remained (6)
Die already! Die already! Nothing will help (7)
I fed him raspberries (8)
Walking in my winter underwear (9)
As the truth lay on the ground in bits (10)
Return that refuse to sender (11)
1. Peter Marra - A Naked Kiss from a Broken Doll
2. Herb Rubenstein - A New Year's Journey in Meditated Capsule Form
3. Jay Cholliek - The Voice
4. Marty Levine - The Night I was Born
5. Jared Harel - Excavations in Salerno
6. Lydia Chang - How I Bumped into my Career
7. Norman Stock - I'm Feeling Fine and You?
8. Yessica Martinez - Our Serious Beginning
9. Elizabeth Wiethoff and Howard Passel - Walking in my Winter Underwear (lyrics by Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg)
10. Catherine Fletcher - Friday's Tornado Warning
11. Saba Ameen - I'm a First Class Letter
Here is a video of Richard reading the Cento.
The next edition of First Tuesdays:
Where: Espresso 77, 35-57 77th St, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
When: February 6, 2018 from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.