Posts Tagged ‘writer’

A Ph.D. in Her: Vanessa Hidary

In Writer's Block on 3 July 2011 at 3:54 pm

“That’s all that I really want….for someone to call me their girl”. Okay, deal!

That’s my girl, my girl, I can’t come out because I’m writing this bomb ass review about my GIRL! You go, GIRL!!!

The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega, the book by the poetically talented Vanessa Hidary, was unlike anything you could have expected. Then again, when dealing with Vanessa, to expect anything specific or standard is already your first mistake; she comes without instructions or a road map but will guarantee you a wonderful journey outside of your limited expectations of life. The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega read like Vanessa put to page. Her voice sprang from the pages so clearly that I thought I was hearing things; she IS the last Kaiser roll in the Bodega.

Kaiser Roll

-noun: a rounded, unsweetened roll, formed by folding the corners of a square of dough toward the center, often sprinkled with poppy seeds before baking

Her life experiences, via what  I have read in the book, have shaped her edges, rounded them from their original square corners; one experience folds into the next. And if you have ever seen a Kaiser roll, it looks like a swirl. And if you’ve ever seen or heard Vanessa, she is a swirl of viewpoints, of experiences, of challenges…placed in a “Bodega”, on purpose, by destiny. Much like the Kaiser roll, she doesn’t come sugar-coated. She comes as she is and you either like her work or you don’t, but she will continue to be placed on the shelf for others to come and taste her, become full from their intake of her, and be thankful that she existed as a substance to keep one alive if they so choose to partake. Also, there may be other Vanessas in the world, but the seeds sprinkled on them will never fall the same.  I could be thinking too much into this, but I don’t think she chose the Kaiser roll by accident, I think the Kaiser roll chose her….lol.

From the moment that I read the foreword by Vanessa’s mother, I knew that I would be in for something unique, special, almost forbidden, yet, granted an oportunity to view. I had already promised Vanessa that I would keep this copy to myself,even forbidding the Holy Trinity to view over my shoulder, and I held true to that promise as I felt like I was reading her diary (even though I think she’d write in a journal to keep her hood credit). The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega read like a biography; poetry and monologues blending rather seamlessly, weaving an intriguing timeline.  Portions of her one-woman play Culture Bandit gave the most insight into who she was as a person and not just as the poet that most of us have come to know and love.  I could hear her voice as I read and even though she wrote “culturally greedy”….. I put this on everything I love….I heard “culturally greeeeeee-dy” and understood the poem better now having read the excerpts from her one-woman show. It wasnt just a poem any more, it was a page from her life. And here I was, all these years, just thinking it was just another fabulous work of art, never knowing it was Vanessa put to page, transported to memory, and dangled before us as she stood behind a mic. Tricky shield that mic can be.

To name one poem, excerpt, or monologue that I liked more than another would betray my love for the work as a whole. This was something that I swallowed in its entirety, digested as a complete entity, and was nurtured by the overall essence of what was being spoken. Yes, I do have parts that stick out in my memory, but that doesn’t mean that any other part spoke to my soul any less. I think we’ve all had a “Papo” and miss those days when we “didn’t let men get too deep in our blood stream“. I took to heart her grandmother’s advice of  ” even when you heart is bulldozed in the desert….you get up“. Brilliant.  But nothing made me laugh as hard as, “Motherfucker, I was ready to wear a bob wig for your ass and chop cucumbers. Are you buggin’?” Outside of my ignorance of Vanessa’s obsession with cucumbers….I still understood. Substitute her cucumber for chicken, greens, or black-eyed peas and you would have me. Yet nothing spoke the words I had been unable to convey, even to myself, better than the words from the poem Everything but Nothing You Wanted  that said “…you didn’t even sweep me up. I had to reach under your couch to find my own chin.” I thank her for that.

There is sooooooo much that I could continue to say about this book, but I won’t. I wish not to taint your experience by my more than obvious love for the words found within its pages. I say this honestly and not just because I am acquainted with Vanessa. It also has nothing to do with my Wendy Williams-ish obsession where Vanessa is my big sister in my head…lol. Yet, it may have something to do with the first time that I sat on the couch and flipped the channel to HBO and saw her on Def Poetry Jam and loved her performance and now have come to the realization that it wasn’t a performance, but a retelling of experiences. And maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the time I met her for the first time in D.C. at a poetry event and saw her love for life. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that she autographed a copy of her CD for me and it has stayed in slot 2 in my truck’s CD changer for the past 3 years. It may be the reason why I reached out to her a year in advance asking if she would come be the feature at my poetry slam. She even performed Ga Bless You, Ma which foreshadowed my own Ga Bless You, Ma moment while walking down the U Street Corridors an hour after she backed away from the mic. HILARIOUS. I told her this when she came to feature at my show……she touches people with her real-ness. You get this sense that she has no reason to pretend when she comes into your presence and you’d be wrong if you thought that she would ever apologize for being exactly who she was designed to be. But I thank her for that. I thank her for writing The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega.  I thank her for speaking so openly. I know for a fact that she will be blessed. After all, being blessed for blessing others “is the price you pay for putting yourself out there.”

If you’re looking for my Siskel & Ebert/Roper, then you’ve come to the wrong blog. It is not my place to judge it, but to tell you my experience in the wake of reading Vanessa’s experiences that she chose to share. Yes, I love it. Yes, I would suggest that you read it. But that is just my opinion. I suggest you get your own copy and make your own opinion. 

To contact Vanessa Hidary or to find out more information about The Last Kaiser Roll in the Bodega, visit www.penmanshipbooks.com or visit The Hebrew Mamita Store.


~*My Mother’s Daughter*~

Muslim Angel: A Poem

In So-Shall Experience, Writer's Block on 5 May 2011 at 12:03 pm


        So, today is May 5th. When I woke up this morning I had nothing more than thoughts of foolish acts and enough liqour to make me forget about what I did.  But as my luck would have it…. it didnt turn out that way.

        I was minding my own business on the Washington, D.C. subway/metro system when something outrageous occurred. I witness Americans discriminating against a Muslim woman who was merely seeking help to get to another metro station.  She was no taller than about 5’5, 5’6 at the most, and between the ages of 48 to 54. She posted no threats whatsoever. When I tell you that I was soooo disgusted that I had to step in and do my part….. you cant even imagine what was going on in my soul.  As a black woman it clicked, as an American I was ashamed, and as a human I felt compelled to do whatever I could. All of this just 2 days after the news broke that Osama bin Laden was killed.

        I went to twitter and I posted the following status: “Dear Muslim woman dressed in full attire, I saw the looks we got on the metro as I helped you find Van Doren. I now understand.” Immediately upon writing that I wrote, “Pardon me….. I am inspired to write a poem.” And I did.

        Work was not a concern of me at the moment. I took to my computer and wrote the following poem:

Muslim Angel

By: 2Deep the Poetess (www.2deepuncensored.wordpress.com)

May 5, 2011


Rush Hour

Dim light

The sound of the hustle and bustle of destined feet rush by

Head bobbing to the rhythm of modern complacency

Conformed to public transportation etiquette





Muslim angel,

Because such a thing exists,

Dressed in full, all white garb

Hijab edges outlined in sea-foam blue,

Magnifying her faith 10 times over,

Wonders towards me in a 5th attempt to gain assistance

Previous attempts brushed off by head turns

Flaps of Express newspapers in response to her

Popping like bullets of insults

As headlines of Osama’s demise dangle in her face

As if to say, “Look at what we can do to your kind, here inAmerica”

I saw this

In that moment, I was not proud to be an American

If this was, in fact, the way an American should act

I knew it was not her Farsi trained tongue exercising broken English

That made them ignore her requests

I understood her just fine

Help me”, sprang from her lips

And translated to comprehension via my eyes

Before I even removed my headphones

I asked if she could repeat herself

Good Morning”, she said

Help me, please.

Van Doren.”

Without second thought I took the metro map out of her hand

Took her hand in my other and said, “Follow me.

I will take you.”

A gasp schoolyard bullied its way out of the throat of the Caucasian woman standing next to me

Eavesdropping getting the best of her

My original mission of getting to work on time escaping me

This was bigger than me

Something greater inside of me whispered

Do not let go of her hand.”

And I obeyed

Seemingly safe within the metal cage

Transporting civilians into the breast of the Confederacy

Older Black woman sang disgust

Like a house nigger gawking

As if I was a field nigger threatening to bring mud into the big house

Exercising her Jim Crow

Removing herself from the front of the car, next to us, to sit elsewhere

Muslim Angel and I stuck out like sore thumbs

Comparison to Freedom Bus rides

We sat front seat at society’s counter

Demanding we be served respect

Express newspaper under my thigh

Feeling guilty for seeking out current events

For today I now knew

I was not proud to be an American

She was I and I was she

And here we sat

Traveling to a place where only one of us knew how to get to

Me to Van Doren

She to a place where she could brave the prejudice and still keep her chin high while seeking help

She needing to know what I knew and vice versa

Yet we sat in silence

Communicating through squeezed palms

Praying to one another for remaining true to who they were

And though she spoke Farsi and I English

We both managed, somehow, to speak human

And we continued to hold on to one another

Next stop Van Doren”, rang over the intercom

Promised land for her and I

As I walked her out to the platform of her destination

Allah shook God’s hand


And said many thanks

All the while I noticed we never said bye

Never shared names

Yet knowing we were sisters just the same

Understanding our coexistence in the midst of those who merely exist

I hope that you enjoyed the poem. I want to hear your thoughts on it. Your thoughts on the situation and anything else that you have to say. I pray that there are other people out there who think like I do and would have done the same thing.


~*My Mother’s Daughter*~

Why I Write

In Writer's Block on 30 August 2010 at 3:31 pm

Hidden beneath the brass undertones of “I could care less” lies the urge to be heard by the hearing impaired and those who are impaired by hearing…..the truth.

Communication is....

How do you communicate?

“Spoken Heard”


Deep behind the canals of the ear

lies a Being

a beginning

afirmation of a transformation where


translates what I meant

into what you heard

never asking permission

but figuring communication is the payment

of comprehension’s tuition

we have agreed

that hearing equals being heard

volume mixed with tone

a concept that never worked well with me

watch my eyes raise

Verizon induced preguntas

Me puede oír ahora?


my bad

your fault

fingers swaying to the rhythm of a humming bird’s heart beat

pounding out language at a decibel that would keep timmy in the well

b/c lassie wouldn’t hear

definition lost in complacency

reluctant hearing turned deaf to meaning


cover your ears when I ask you if you heard what I said

drape your arms around the waist of communication

hug it close

comprehend nothing more than what stands between your pelvis

and the birth of the meaning of these words

i write because sometimes

words need not be spoken

to be heard

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