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Reading at Ledding Library highlights importance of oral tradition for 'Sufi warrior poet' who works for Portland Public Schools

Tiel Aisha Ansari will read from "Dervish Lions," her most recent collection of poems, at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 in the Ledding Library's Community Room as part of the Milwaukie Poetry Series.Tiel Aisha Ansari

She will also read poems from "The Day of My First Driving Lesson" and some newer, uncollected works.

Ansari calls herself a "Sufi warrior poet," and her poems have been featured in a variety of collections. She works as a data analyst for Portland Public Schools, is president emerita of the Oregon Poetry Association and hosts the "Wider Window Poetry" show on KBOO Community Radio.

Ansari said that the Ledding Library poetry series is important because poetry began as an oral art form.

"Listening to live readings of poetry is a much more in-depth experience than reading it," she said.

"It's very important to me that art is democratized; that it be available for free, and for anyone to be able to experience," Ansari said.

"A public reading series, and especially one hosted by a public library, is much more accessible to the general public than a museum exhibit," she noted,

Inspiration

She noted that "Medium of Exchange," one of the poems she will read from "Dervish Lions," is inspired by memories of growing up in Tanzania and working subsistence agriculture.

It begins with these lines:

Sweat under endless rows of rustling corn

sore hands, aching back, feet caked with field-mud

broken bleeding blisters growing to cold callous

And ends with these:

Field labor for food. Callouses for corn.

Blisters for beef.

"Poetry home"

"Over the years, the Milwaukie Poetry Society series has presented not only a very high standard of poetry, but a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is truly unmatched in my experience," Ansari said.

"These types of gatherings take on increased importance as we emerge from the pandemic and people crave the kind of in-person contact that has been in short supply the last few years," Ansari added.

She added, "I'm very grateful to them and to the city of Milwaukie for creating my poetry home."

Sufi warrior poet

What: Milwaukie Poetry Series presents Tiel Aisha Ansari

When: 6 p.m. on Nov. 9

Where: Ledding Library, 10660 S.E. 21st Ave., Milwaukie.

Livesteam: The reading will also be livestreamed on the Ledding Library YouTube Channel. You can register with Tom Hogan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More: Learn more about Tiel Aisha Ansari at knockingfrominside.blogspot.com.


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