This week Emily Ruth Hazel brings us her beautiful new poem in response to the theme of “harvest” and the verses
Click to Read Give Us This Day
Listen to Give Us This Day
From the Artist:
The initial inspiration for this poem came to me more than eight years ago, when I was traveling in Ghana. While there, I had the opportunity to attend performances of several classic plays I had seen in the United States (including The Sound of Music and Grease). I loved seeing the different ways these stories were translated through another culture. That got me thinking about ways of reframing the familiar, looking at the same concepts through different cultural lenses.
At the time, I was trying to eat vegetarian, which proved to be a challenge in Ghana. My nearly-daily diet consisted of rice and beans, sweet plantains, and life-changing pineapples and mangoes. My friends insisted that I try traditional Ghanaian fufu. In West and Central Africa (as well as parts of the Caribbean), fufu is a staple food, prepared by boiling starchy vegetables such as cassava root, yams, and/or plantains, which are then pounded until they have the consistency of dough. The traditional way to eat fufu is to pinch off a small portion with one’s right hand, dip it into an accompanying soup or stew, and swallow it without chewing. It’s a filling dish, and I was glad I tried it, although I returned to my standbys.
Around then, I had a conversation with a Ghanaian friend about the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread,” a line from the New Testament passage commonly called The Lord’s Prayer. We were talking about how this verse wouldn’t hit home in the same way for people for whom bread is not a staple food. Half-jokingly, my friend said that the Ghanaian cultural translation should be “Give us this day our daily fufu.” That was the germ of the idea for this poem. I was reminded of that conversation when my exploration of biblical passages on the theme of Harvest led me to words about bread.
Recently, my career transition to freelancing fulltime as a writer has had me thinking about miraculous provision, as in the biblical accounts of God providing manna—a mysterious, edible substance that covered the ground like frost each night when the Israelites were wandering in the desert. This was their “daily bread.” While most of us would prefer to be promised a lifetime supply of bread upfront, often we aren’t promised a year or even a month’s worth, but simply a day’s worth. That measure of uncertainty presses us to trust beyond what we can see and to be expectantly present in each day we are given.
Emily Ruth Hazel is a New York City-based poet and writer who is passionate about making poetry accessible to a diverse audience of readers and listeners. Twice she has been awarded a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize in a national competition for emerging poets. A collection of her poetry, Body & Soul (Finishing Line Press), was published as a finalist in the New Women’s Voices competition. Her work has also appeared in Kindred, Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature, Brown Alumni Magazine, The Mochila Review, Texas Poetry Calendar 2014 (Dos Gatos Press), Deep Waters (Outrider Press), The Heart of All That Is (Holy Cow! Press), and Mercury Retrograde (Kattywompus Press), among other publications.
A graduate of Oberlin College’s Creative Writing Program, she has led creative writing workshops for youth at schools, libraries, and community centers in Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, and South Africa. She has also mentored underserved teens through Girls Write Now, a nonprofit dedicated to nurturing the next generation of women writers.
Emily enjoys cross-pollinating with artists of all kinds and has performed her work solo and collaboratively at numerous events. Most recently, she performed at the International Arts Movement conference and at the album release concert for “Soon We Will Not Be Here” by James Hall Thousand Rooms Quartet, a CD featuring poems transformed into songs by jazz trombonist/composer James Hall. You can connect with Emily on her Facebook Artist’s Page: facebook.com/emilyruthhazel.
Emily Ruth Hazel is a resident artist at Spark and Echo Arts.
This poem is copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™