Thursday, April 18, 2013

National Poetry Month: Alice Teeter

Alice Teeter

Dream 1: My mother writes poetry…
(Alice Teeter)

My mother writes poetry I've never seen.
She writes in English and publishes only in Chinese journals.
For years I did not know she even wrote poetry.
Now I cannot find it.
The journals are obscure.
Thin, flimsy paper. The ink shows through from the other side.
Most of the journal is in Chinese.
Here and there will be the poems of my mother
and poems by other unknown poets.
The print is in two colors--red and black
The poem titles are in red and the poems themselves print black.
I am amazed to be reading the poems of my mother.
I did not know she wrote poetry.
Most of her poems are lost to me.

Sometimes when I find one of those small Chinese party umbrellas,
I unroll the paper that makes up the shaft and look for her poems.
I have to be very careful to unroll it in one piece,
spread it out on a clean, flat surface, check it back and front.
When I am lucky I find a poem
and read the words of my mother's heart,
scattered among the hieroglyphs of another language,
printed in a country I have never seen.

ALICE TEETER will be reading at this weekend's Atlanta Queer Literary Festival event Saturday night in Atlanta. Her first book, 20 Class A, was published in 1975. She is a member of Alternate ROOTS, a service organization for artists doing community-based work in the Southeast. She is a also a member of the Artist Conference Network, a national coaching community for people doing creative work. Her recent collections are String Theory (2008) and When It Happens to You (2009), from which "Dream 1: My mother writes poetry" is taken. These and other collections are available through her website.

The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival reading on April 20 features the poet as well as other LGBT poets and writers, including Glenda Corwin, Anthony Antoine, Harold Lefall, Collin Kelley, Dustin Brookshire, Mose Hardin, Young Hughley, Sharon J. Sanders, Gabe Moses, Iyana, Megan A. Volpert, Antron Rechaud, Lynne Huffer, and Jef Blocker. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Decatur (GA) Library auditorium; for more information, visit

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