kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora


Participate in Kaya Press’ “Animating Poetry Contest – Vote for Your Favorite!” contest on Facebook for a chance to win a signed copy of Shailja Patel’s tour-de-force book Migritude. Students from Parsons the New School for Design were asked to interpret one of Patel’s poems “Shilling Love” in Ken Tanabe’s Motion Graphics 2 class. Check them out and get involved by:
1) “Like” your favorite animation. The animator with the most “likes” will receive a $50 gift card to Amazon.
2) “Comment” on a specific animation and you’ll have a chance to win a signed copy of Migritude.

Which do you think does the best job of pulling you inside the poem? How do you think animation can enhance or contribute to a poem? Give your thoughts on collaborative interactions between poetry and moving images.

Contest starts now and ends on 4/15/12.

Full Text of “Shilling Love”

They never said / they loved us
Those words were not / in any language / spoken by my parents
I love you honey / was the dribbled caramel / of Hollywood movies / Dallas / Dynasty / where electricity surged through skyscrapers / twenty-four hours a day / hot water gushed / at the touch of gleaming taps / banquets obscene as the Pentagon / were mere backdrops / to emotions without consequences / words that / cost nothing / meant nothing / would never have to be redeemed
My parents / didn’t speak / that language
mother speaks battle / storms the bastions of Nairobi’s / most exclusive prep schools / hurls / our cowering, six-year-old bodies / like cannonballs / into all-white classrooms / scales the ramparts / of class distinction around Loreto Convent / where the president / sends his daughter / where foreign diplomats / send their daughters / because / my mother’s daughters / will / have / world-class educations
she falls / re-groups / falls and re-groups / in endless assaults on visa officials / who sneer behind bullet-proof windows / at British and US consulates
1977 / twenty Kenyan shillings to the British pound / my father speaks stoic endurance / he began at sixteen / the brutal apprenticeship / of a man who takes care of his own / dreams / of pilot / rally driver / relinquished / to the daily crucifixion / of wringing profits / from beneath cars / my father / the foot soldier / bound to an honour / deeper than any currency
you must / finish what you start you must / march until you drop you must / give your life for those / you bring into the world
I try to explain love / in shillings / to those who’ve / never gauged who gets to leave / who has to stay / who breaks free / and what they pay / those who’ve never counted love / in every rung of the ladder / from survival / to choice / a force as grim and determined / as a boot up
the backside / a spur that draws blood / a mountaineer’s rope / that yanks / relentlessly / up
My parents never say / they love us / they save and count / count and save
The shilling falls against the pound / college fees for overseas students / rise like flood tides / love is a luxury / priced in hard currency / ringed by tariffs / and we on the raft / devour prospectuses of ivied buildings / smooth lawns / vast libraries / gleaming science labs / the way Jehovah’s Witnesses / gobble visions of paradise / because we know we’ll have to be / twice as good / three times as fast / four times as driven / with angels / powers / and principalities on our side / just / to get / on the plane
Thirty shillings to the pound / forty shillings to the pound / my parents fight over money / late in the night my father / pounds the walls and yells / I can’t / it’s impossible / what do you think I am?
My mother propels us through / tutors, exams, scholarship applications / locks us into rooms to study / keeps an iron grip / on the bank books
1982 / gunshots in the streets of Nairobi / military coup leaders / thunder over the radio / Asian businesses wrecked and looted / Asian women / raped / after the government / regains control / we whisper what the coup leaders / had planned
Round up all the Asians / at gunpoint / in the national stadium / strip them of what they carry / march them fifty kilometres to the airport / elders in wheelchairs / babies in arms / pack them onto foreign planes / like
battery chickens / tell the pilots down rifle barrels / leave / we don’t care where you take them / leave
I learn / like a stone in my gut / that third-generation Asian Kenyan / will never / be Kenyan enough / that all my patriotic fervour / will not / turn my skin / black
As yet another western country / drops a portcullis of immigration spikes / my mother straps my shoulders back with a belt / to teach me / stand up straight
Fifty shillings to the pound / we cry over meltdown pressure / of exam after exam / where second place is never good enough
Seventy shillings to the pound / they hug us at airports / tearless / stoic / as we board planes for icy / alien England / cram instructions into our pockets like talismans
eat proper meals / so you don’t get sick / cover your ears / against the cold / stay away from the muffathias / the ones without purpose or values / learn and study / succeed / learn and study / succeed / remember remember remember / the cost of your life
they never say / they love us

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