Urban Word’s Summer Wordshops are rolling right along. On Wednesday, July 27, Aimee Nezhukumatathil joins the fray for an afternoon workshop at Urban Word HQ from 3 to 5 p.m. Head downtown afterwards to hear her read from her new book, Lucky Fish, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
I’ve never been to Southeast Asia, but after reading Lucky Fish, I feel like I have. Nezhukumatathil (Nez for short) calls to mind fruits I’ve never tasted (but now desperately want to!), desert and tropical landscapes, and customs that don’t seem as foreign to me now that I’ve read from her work.
I hate to pick a favorite from her work, but I really love this piece:
LETTER FOUND AT THE TOWER OF SILENCE
(In ancient Mumbai, India, bodies of the dead were placed atop a tower of silence — exposed to the sun and birds of prey)
Dear Feather of Sly Bird Who Nibbles on Your Arm —
Dear Small Wind Inside Cardamom Pod —
Dear Mushroom Blooming from Your Side —
My body drying under the sun is the ultimate act of charity for birds and mice.
Sometimes a peacock saunters at the base of the tower, a shot of blue to nip me.
There is no need for melon slice; no need for a bite
of talk, absolutely no need to write me back —
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, 2011
She makes the foreign feel familiar and the grotesque seem beautiful. The carrion are “sly birds,” and the body is “the ultimate act of charity for the birds and the mice.”
Join Urban Word as Nezhukumatathil conducts a Master Class in poetry. If you can’t make it in person on Wednesday, July 27, look to Urban Word’s Twitter (@urbanwordnyc) for details on how to stream the class directly to your computer. You’ll also find writing prompts for your own poetry inspired by Nez on Urban Word’s Twitter and Facebook pages. The pages also feature excerpts, interviews, and videos of the visiting poets every day!