– Poem by Marlene Tartaglione –
Honourable Mention in the Dreamers 2021 Stories of Migration, Sense of Place and Home Contest
“I celebrate myself and sing myself;
And what I assume, you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you…”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, Leaves of Grass
I am the Other Side of the story, the face from a picture book whose title you cannot pronounce: In another life I forged with you across continents, hauling my history's crudely-hewn grace over waves which could scarcely hold me up. The crusts on which I fed even the pigeons refused, but like the pigeons, I multiplied into many clandestine tribes… My poverty was complete: My voice, hoisted up the long ropes that led to this song: I had a son & he had a son, our progeny air, earth, water, fire… We evolved from a dream which grew into an empire— In the beginning, spawned only by our blood: Now, it is your own …Thrust, as if still-born, through clouds of ether & wreathes of foul air, we battled wild currents prolific as plague, past quarantine, sewer— from Birth to Old Age— Rising, falling, then rising again— an endless vortex of tenement stairs. Still, we endured, embraced & embellished the years… Like stained flags on a matrix of polio & typhoid, grief was our anthem, struggle, our stage. How we transcended fists, throngs of asbestos & mud!— yet emerged as forged monuments, 'though exiled deeper into the harsh shape of our own hammered blood. …Still, the Dream remains our Beacon, enduring spark proclaiming each life a Living Ember: …If the music which you hear is the Song of Someone Else, it is because you fail to remember.
About the Author – Marlene Tartaglione
Marlene Tartaglione is a poet, writer and visual artist who was born and raised in New York City. Her work has appeared in various literary presses throughout the country, venues such as Artist & Influence, Fertile Ground, The Chronogram, Wind Literary Journal, as well as publications by NYU and The Cooper Union. Ms. Tartaglione is the recipient of four poetry prizes (awarded 1981, 1994, 2021, 2021), three international, the other New York University’s 1994 Samuel Rubin Award for Outstanding Poem of the Year. Her work has been presented at the New York Cultural Center, The Henry Street Settlement’s New Federal Theater, the Brooklyn Museum, Barnes & Noble/ B. Dalton Booksellers, as well as the Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan. Her writing is also included in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.
Ms. Tartaglione has been involved in children’s literature as well as advocacy for Human Rights. She believes art & compassionate action are one, a powerful tool for positive social change. A nature lover as well as avid city-dweller, she divides much of her time between Manhattan’s Lower East Side and upstate New York’s scenic Hudson Valley.
Ms. Tartaglione’s graduate work at New York University was conducted with children’s literature scholar Dr. Constantine Georgiou, and Professor George C. Stoney, documentarian. A member of the Academy of American Poets and Poetry Society of America, Ms. Tartaglione also holds a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union, where she studied poetry with Dr. Brian Swann.
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**This poem by Marlene Tartaglione received an Honourable Mention in the 2021 Stories of Migration, Sense of Place & Home Contest.
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