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My Poetry Corner February 2017 features the poem “The Place of No Dreams” by Lauren K. Alleyne, a Caribbean-American poet born in the twin-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago. She is an Associate Professor of English at James Madison University and Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center.

Armed with her dreams and a scholarship from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, Lauren Alleyne left home in 1997 for New York City. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, she pursued a Masters of Arts in English and Creative Writing at Iowa State University, graduating in 2002. Three years later, while working for her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Poetry), she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University.

Her poems and essays, published in several journals and anthologies, have gained several prizes and awards. Her first collection of poetry, Difficult Fruit, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2014.

The featured poem, published by Connotation Press in 2010, captured my attention at a time of growing darkness. The place of no dreams, the poet writes:

Is a cave so dark that every ghost shines
with the luminescence of super novas;
wish upon every one, and you would
want for nothing.

Light exists even in the darkness. I see the ghosts as our ancestors whose lives abound with triumphs in the face of adversity.

The cave is a house with seven windows
and no doors.

Through the windows, we see the possibilities awaiting us. But without doors, we cannot enter the world, engage with others, achieve our dreams. Neither can we let others into our lives, our home, our world.

san-diego-contract-detention-facility-september-2015

The house of no doors in not lacking
an entryway, you have only to open
your imagination. Sometimes
a wall is a fear so old it has become brick.
Sometimes a wall is a wish so fragile
it would crumble if you uttered its name.

The poet describes the power of imagination to break through the wall that separates us from others and prevents us for achieving our potential. For many, that wall is fear – fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the Other. At times, we’ve held on so long to our fears, they become insurmountable.

Sometimes / a wall is a fear so old it has become brick.

The wall as a fragile wish brings to mind the wall that protects our hearts from the pain of loving those we hold most dear. How vulnerable we become when we open ourselves to love!

The name is a ghost offering
every possibility to the dark: A shining thing.

Such is the power of our imagination. It illuminates our path beyond the walls where freedom and justice are as fragile as our love for each other.

To read the complete featured poem and learn more about Lauren K. Alleyne and her work, go to my Poetry Corner February 2017.

PHOTO CREDITS – AMERICAN IMMIGRANT FAMILY DETENTION CENTERS:
Immigrant Children at Dilley Detention Center, Texas/USA, July 2015
~ In These Times (Charles Reed/DVIDS)
San Diego Contract Detention Facility, California/USA, September 2015
~ American Immigration Council

 

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