Monday, June 23, 2008

June Featured Artist: Amanda Johnston

Author Bio:

Cave Canem Fellow and Affrilachian Poet, Amanda Johnston has performed across the country for various causes and events. Honors include a 2003 and 2004 Artists Enrichment grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the 2005 Austin International Poetry Festival's Christina Sergeyevna Award. Currently, Johnston serves on the board of directors for the National Women's Alliance, is an ensemble member of The Austin Project Performance Company (TAPPCo) and is the founding editor of Torch: poetry, prose, and short stories by African American Women.

Work Sample:

First Song
for Ahyana

She wailed and my heart stood still
as the doctor dangled her
head down and bloody like a fish
caught between the muck and pull
of my churning water and vine
creeping awkwardly up to this
blurry life of tears and loose soil.
The delivery room held fast
while her silence echoed off
defibrillators, nursing hands
and her father tending my
hollow earthbound body waiting
for his daughter's first solo
in a chorus of furrowed brows.
We wanted to hear her wail
with a quick slap on the ass
desperate breath then sound
at least a whimper of newness
breaching our anticipation
not this eternal pause of her
wide eyes questioning yes or no
to a world of uncertainties.
She wailed and my heart stood still
in that resounding yes, yes she would
stay in this imperfect place
with all of its cobwebs and stars
here, in the shit and pain of birth,
she wailed and her song began.

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