Photo Credit: Tee Jay Dan

Introduction

 

What is “praxis” anyway? According to Random House’s Dictionary.com, it means:

1. practice, as distinguished from theory; application or use, as of knowledge or skills.
2. convention, habit, or custom.
3. a set of examples for practice.

When reading the poems submitted in response to Mary McCarthy’s chapbook Things I Was Told Not to Think About, I found myself thinking about praxis, not as the title of a journal, but the word that is its basis. What is a Praxis chapbook? What is a praxis chapbook?

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When I have difficulty putting things into words, I often turn to poetry as the language that can move me from isolation and silence into expression, then from expression into action. Stanzas 1, 2, & 4 of the poem that follows are a cento built from lines in each of the poems of this chapbook and parts of the dictionary.com definition. (Numbers in parentheses give the page number where the original poem appears.) Stanzas 3 & 5 are where the reading and the exploration took me.

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practice, as distinguished from theory
In this fight to keep a fire of truth burning (4)
let us take those / Dim pictures out again (3)
Broken vessels / In need of the potter’s touch (5)
seeing our own faces in their multitude (21)
dark brown eyes / Molten pools of fear (8)
Don’t wear mascara / When you’re depressed (6)

convention, habit, or custom
I climb into myself and then / there is a disturbance. (22)
she is shut doors and windows (10)
to avoid being    b   r   o   k   e   n (11)
we all lose the taste of our bodies to the tongues of the same fire… (14)
This curse we must shake off / That we may love freely (16)

application or use
The compassionate question is the same
whether I am asking for someone else
or asking for me.
The compassionate question is:
What’s most needed?

a set of examples for practice
somewhere in the city square the rain is washing tears (18)
there is a woman in a sturdy storm (19)
I feel our souls touch. (25)
Reach for me over the waters (20)
take my hand, come back to her kitchen (13)
I had to borrow grandma’s spirit (12)
she teaches me how to break life into the lyrics of (12)
A dying song – without dying with it. (12)

praxis
Ask, then answer.
Answer, then act.

Download and read Around This Fire 4

Special thanks to all of the Around This Fire 4 contributors: Shelly Blankman, Jennifer Chinenye Emelife, Abigail George, Obiajulu Nwodo, Victoria Nwogu, Christy Ogbenjuwa, Nome Patrick, Trust Tonji, and PJ Wren. Thanks also to Mary McCarthy for providing the inspiration. Most importantly, thanks to our readers – thank YOU for joining us around this fire and being part of Praxis.

-Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)
Poetry / Chapbook Editor, Praxis Magazine Online
February 2017

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