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Emily Rose Hazel's work reflects on her experiences in Ghana while responding to the theme of "Harvest" and the passages of Exodus 16:2-4, 11-16, 31; Numbers 11:7-9; 1 Kings 17:1-16; Matt. 6:11-13, 25-27; and John 6:1-13 as she builds a poetry collection responding to every theme from the year as a 2013 Spark+Echo Artist in Residence.


Exodus 16:2-4

Give Us This Day

By 

Emily Ruth Hazel

Credits: 

Curated by: 

Spark+Echo Arts, 2013 Artist in Residence

2013

Poetry/Spoken Word

Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness;
and the children of Israel said to them, “We wish that we had died by Yahweh’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots, when we ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.

Exodus 16:2-4

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.





Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Emily Ruth Hazel is a poet, writer, and cross-pollinator who is passionate about diversifying the audience for poetry and giving voice to people who have been marginalized. Selected as the Honorary Poet for the 25th Annual Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading in Providence, Rhode Island, she presented a commissioned tribute to the Poet Laureate of Harlem in February of 2020. She is a two-time recipient of national Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for a residency at The Hambidge Center in 2014. Her chapbook, Body & Soul (Finishing Line Press, 2005), was a New Women’s Voices finalist. Emily’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, literary journals, and digital projects, including Kinfolks: A Journal of Black Expression and Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature. Her poetry has also been featured on music albums, in a hair salon art installation, and in a science museum exhibition.


Emily has written more than twenty commissioned works for organizations, arts productions, social justice projects, and private clients. Currently, she is developing several poetry book manuscripts and writing lyrics for an original musical inspired by the life of the extraordinary singer and Civil Rights icon Marian Anderson. A graduate of Oberlin College’s Creative Writing Program and a former New Yorker, she is now based in the Los Angeles area.


EmilyRuthHazel.com

Instagram: @EmilyRuthHazel

Facebook.com/EmilyRuthHazel




Emily Ruth Hazel

About the Artist

Word of Mouth

In the Wake of the Storm

Circling the Waist of Wisdom

Give Me a Name

Homecoming

Runaway

Undressing Prayer

Emily Ruth Hazel

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