Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Poetry

A Lavenderly Writing Experience


IMG_7397 (2)The world news was infused with negative stories and my kitchen had dust galore as men tore down one of its walls. I could not be happier to leave this chaos and the news behind and transport myself to the Detroit Working Writers Boot Camp which was hosted at the home of author, gardener, educator, and my great mentor Iris Underwood. Her home being in an organic lavender farm, I knew I was in for a treat.

Within half-an-hour, I was out of the city noise, driving through unpaved roads of a small town that still has a post office that has been in operation since 1884. I found the home tucked amongst a thick silence, with the only sounds coming from the rustling tree leaves and the bees over the flowers. I walked around the house and down a hill of green pastures to where the writers gathered outside. They sat on large wooden bench tables under a large canopy and were surrounded by lavender plants.

Author Cynthia Harrison led the workshop, discussing Character, Conflict, and Setting in a most vivid, humorous, and loving way. She shared her experience of when one day, shortly after she got married, there was a storm in the 1970s that flooded her basement, where a box of her notebooks was stored. Needless to say, her poetry and other writings were drenched and, for the most part, disintegrated. While at that moment she reflected on her career, her then husband wanted to know, “What’s for dinner?”

She brought us much laughter and inspiration to write from the heart. We later enjoyed a delicious lunch of salad, lavender scones and lavender brownies. We took a tour of the farm. I visited the little building with a yellow door and sign that read “Girls Only” and found it was occupied by four pretty healthy hens. We were offered scissors to clip the lavender plants and take some home. We then sat beneath another canopy where two musicians sang country songs while playing the mandolin and guitar.

Iris started this farm because lavender had healed her in several ways. Lavender oil is known to reduce anxiety and emotional stress, heal burns and wounds, improve sleep, restore skin complexion and reduce acne, alleviate headaches, slow aging with powerful antioxidants, and has many other beneficial effects. No wonder I walked out of her property feeling like I’ve just walked out of a therapeutic, a magical, bath.

A Poetic Visit


photo (71)

As he tours different parts of the country, poet and publisher Michael Czarnecki of Wheeler, New York graced our home yesterday by his lovely visit. He arrived shortly after I brought my children home from school, we had a nice lunch together, and then over cardamom tea, he spent quite some time conversing with my flamboyant children and my husband.

At night, we made a bonfire and had barbecued hamburgers. We shared childhood stories and information about our neighborhoods. We live in an Iraqi American community. He lives in an Amish community. Hours passed and before we knew it, it was too late to make S’mores. It was time for bed.

Michael is the author of nearly a dozen books and his publishing company, FootHills Publishing, has published over 500 chapbooks. I met him about 5 years ago through a wonderful instructor/friend at Oakland Community College. I followed his work ever since and was always inspired by his poetry, his interesting and authentic lifestyle, and his breathtaking photography which you can read and view by visiting his website:

This morning Michael left after breakfast, heading to Richmond Library where he’s doing a workshop called “Palm of the Hand Memoir Writing.” In the evening, he will be doing a reading at the same library, then he’ll be driving back home to Wheeler, New York.

Michael left us with a wonderful memory – my children announced to the school that we were having an author stay at our house. He also left us with a jar of homemade maple syrup, 8 of his books to read over the summer, and this touching poem, #588 of his “daily spontaneous” poems.

Daily Spontaneous Poem #588

literary life
spiritual life
life in Iraq
life in America
stories told
from here
from there
three generations
under one roof
night barbecue
whiskey on rocks
one more
vibrant experience
on poetic road

FootHills Publishing is currently seeking poems for an anthology to celebrate birds: their natural history, their place in nature and in the environment they share with poems. Deadline is June 30, 2016 and for more information you can visit




My 3 Poems Published by The Transitional

The Transitional

The Transnational has published 3 of my poems (in German and English). This is a bilingual literary magazine which publishes authors from all around the world who offer a new approach to the political and social landscape of the 21st century. Worldwide. In English & German.

It describes itself as such: Texts which are published in the Transnational can dissolve existing boundaries or suggest new ones. They can make us question our beliefs, champion social justice and human rights, war and psychological violence, giving rise to provocative or soothing thoughts. We believe that all great literature is revolutionary and necessary. Great writers are honest. They call upon us as readers to experience the intangible.


 Germany, Europe:

 or Hugendubel (Thalia und Co.):


My Kurdish Shia Friend

Artwork by:  Luis Rosenfeld

Artwork by: Luis Rosenfeld

Yesterday, two of my poems were published by Section8Magazine

  1. My Kurdish Shia Friend
  2. Redder and Redder

My Kurdish Shia Friend

I had no inkling that she was Muslim,
that she was not Christian like me.
I had no knowledge of her Kurdish heritage,
and that Kurds were a branch of the Iranian tree.
I knew not that she was a Shiite,
nor did I understand what that word meant.
What I did perceive, and still do,
was that her name, Niran, meant fire.
In Baghdad, she lived across from me
in a house with a blue door.
Her mother was a beautiful woman
who treated me like a daughter.
We both wore our hairs in ribbons and braids
and were the best of friends
until our lives dramatically altered
because we had to abandon our homes
due to other peoples’ addictive interpretations
of politics, ideals and religions.

Redder and Redder 
I turn redder and redder
each time they slaughter a human being
in a manner that resembles the slaughter
of a sheep for a fancy feast honoring a big celebration.

I turn redder and redder
each time they command a woman to remain a prisoner
in her body and home, giving her a punishment and a sentencing order merely because God chose her to be a certain gender.

I turn redder and redder
each time they train impressionable children how to execute acts in the name of Allah, acts that are insane with void and aggression, acts that are frowned upon even by the animal kingdom.

I turn redder and reader
each time they spread their wings, possess more land,
swim into the hearts of the innocent and conquer peace
rather than overcome their own terrifying addictions.

Loving India


My first spiritual teacher was from India. He was a customer at my place of work, a video store. We talked about God and religion and little by little, I joined his group of pupils who meditated and prayed together. He once recommended I read a book called “Daughter of Fire” about a British woman who goes to India to meet her guru. The book was over 800 pages and I read it twice, hoping to one day find my own guru.

I have since had a strong attraction for India, and although I’ve wanted to visit the country several times, it just never worked out. So I console myself by cooking a lot of Indian food and watching movies my director Mira Nair. My friend Elisabeth has a much stronger connection to that country. Elisabeth is from Belgium. Her mother is French. Her husband is from India. Recently, she built a home in India where she will one day soon move into.

She and her husband came over for dinner this evening. All was wonderful, except for my children who, to my surprise, tried to get the couple’s attention as if they’d never seen people in their lives. My son especially was not okay with his mother giving attention to anyone but himself and so showed off with super-duper shouts as he zoomed into the kitchen on his scooter. Thank God, my friends laughed off the crazy behavior.

I met Elisabeth years ago through the Rochester Writer’s Group. I’ll never forget the beautiful accent as she read a scene from her novel. Her poems are just as mesmerizing, and years ago when our poetry women’s group was active, we would alternate between homes once a month, on a Sunday, to recite poetry. Elisabeth went on to be the editor-in-chief of the Gazette van Detroit, a Belgian newspaper which began in 1914. She is no longer with them, but I remember when she gave me a few assignments and I got to know the community, which mostly lived in East Detroit until the Detroit riots of 1967, a little.

Elisabeth still has that accent, but I haven’t heard her read anything in a while. She said she might hold a poetry meeting at her home one day soon. Yes, before she leaves us to live in her adopted world, where I suspect she will have such an extraordinary experience, she will end up writing a best seller about it.

Well, my son is once again calling for my attention. When I tell him I’m trying to finish up something, he begs that I come beside him. “It’ll just be for an hour, mom,” he says. Now he’s looking for his penguin, named “Huggie.” More on that another day.