Monday, May 14, 2018

"Ritual Object" by Tsitsi Ella Jaji

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May 14, 2018

Ritual Object

Tsitsi Ella Jaji
Tsitsi Jaji reads "Ritual Object."

About This Poem


"Ironing is a morning ritual that is especially important to the black communities I belong to, where looking polished is a matter of pride and pleasure. This poem was inspired by the delicious memory of the crisp smell of starch and steam and by the wonderful artwork of Willie Cole, who has used the iron as an art medium, sometimes burning prints into fabric with an iron's head that evoke the shape of a slaver's ship. The iron, like any ritual object, has the power to transform such elements as water, fire, metal, and air into a multitude of meanings, each one as malleable as folded cloth."
—Tsitsi Ella Jaji


Tsitsi Ella Jaji is a Zimbabwean poet and an American academic. Her poetry collection, Beating the Graves, was published in 2017 in the African Poetry Book Series at the University of Nebraska Press. She is an associate professor of English with a specialty in African and African American literary and cultural studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.


Photo credit: Joel Elliot

Poetry by Jaji


Beating the Graves

(University of Nebraska Press, 2017)

"For My People" by Margaret Walker


"The Children" by TJ Jarrett


"I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store" by Eve L. Ewing


May Guest Editor: Matthew Shenoda


Thanks to Matthew Shenoda, author of Tahrir Suite: Poems (TriQuarterly Books, 2014), who curated Poem-a-Day this month. Read more about Shenoda and our guest editors for the year.

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