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Monday, December 30, 2013


The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are known as the Nguzo Saba. These principles exemplify the very best of African cultures and traditions throughout the Diaspora. Kwanzaa is celebrated to help people of African descent affirm the grandeur and beauty of their ancestral home and translate that beauty into their everyday lives. The holiday, a Swahili word which translated means “first fruits of the harvest,” was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. While Kwanzaa is typically commemorated annually from December 26th through January 1st, these are wise axioms to live by 365 days a year. Here I’ve written a Haiku for each of the principles. Read them over carefully. They are meant to stimulate thought and promote positive action. Harambee!

Habari Gani? Umoja! What’s the news? Unity.
Our Ancestors smile
Upon the unity we
Promote through Kwanzaa.

Habari Gani? Kujichagulia! What’s the news? Self-Determination.
When we define our
Own greatness, we project Self-

Habari Gani? Ujima! What’s the news? Collective work and responsibility.
Don’t be so trifling
and lazy! Pull your own weight!
Be responsible!

Habari Gani?  Ujamaa! What’s the news? Cooperative Economics.
Ominous clouds taunt
when Blacks refuse to support
Black-owned businesses.

Habari Gani? Nia! What’s the news? Purpose.
If you plan to get
ahead, then make sure you live
your life on purpose.

Habari Gani? Kuumba! What’s the news? Creativity.
Nourishes the life-blood of
African cultures.

Habari Gani? Imani! What’s the news? Faith.
In no small way, Faith
Sustains us, Heals us and gives
Hope for the future.

Asante Sana. Peace and Blessings Always

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Welcoming 2014: My Un-Resolution

Resolve means more than
empty promises spoken
Every New Year's Day

It’s Christmas morning.  I have the privilege of sitting here in my “Sacred Magic Room,” reading, writing, praying and reflecting on what this season means to me.  What my life means to me. What my essence means to the world I navigate on a daily basis. I am especially grateful for the presence of mind that guided me to scribble down my thoughts before the gathering with family and friends, before the big feast, before all the gift giving and gift receiving. Because if I learned anything at all during 2013, I learned that God wants me to succeed at out-flowing the unique talents, gifts and abilities bestowed upon me:  No Excuses! God wants me to humble myself, discipline myself, believe in myself so I can get closer to that holy place of redemption. And it just so happens that sitting down to write is a big part of that equation. So I am a blessed woman. Right here, right now.

Normally by the time we get to the 25th of December, I’ve written down all of my resolutions in a beautifully bound journal. For many years, these resolutions have remained the same:  Obey God’s will; be more active in my elderly parents’ lives; continue with my volunteer work; finish writing my books of poetry I’ve started, finish writing my screenplay I’ve started, chunk down a few more chapters of my novel, complete my book of essays; continue with my jogging, start training for another marathon, eat better and oh yes, lose some weight!

But this year, there will be No Resolutions. No looking back or looking forward or making false promises. This year, the goal is to make one goal and stick to it, which I have already done – (a birthday present I gave to myself back in October.) I don’t feel compelled to share what this goal is, but will keep myself in check as I continue to experience the bliss that each day on this planet offers  -   troubles, challenges, triumphs and all. 

As you observe the season (or if it’s your tradition, not observe the season), I hope that you achieve all of the lofty goals you set for yourself this coming year. I hope you are able to keep whatever resolutions you make. I hope you can find joy in the coming year.  I hope the song of Spring on its way is a sweet melody in your ears. I hope the taste of freedom is on the tip of your tongue. I hope the smell of success is ripe in your nostrils. But most of all, I hope you are able to feel your heart beating. And when you do so, I hope you can find and spread love.

Asante Sana. Peace and Blessings Always.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Today is a Gift

Love Park, Philadelphia, PA

Today is a Gift
that features priceless, rare and
unique qualities

Today is a Gift
That’s why it’s called “The Present”
So please cherish it

Today is a Gift
Revel in “The Present” as a
Child on Christmas Day

Happy Holidays Everyone!
Asante Sana - Peace & Blessings Always

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Solstice Haiku and Reflections

Winter Wonderland: A photo I took in Overbrook after a Snow Fall 
When I left the house on Saturday afternoon, it was windy and cold, however no precipitation was falling. My block, as you see here in this photo, looked like winter wonderland. Yet the moon was almost full by the time I walked home through the falling snow, as evening fell around my shoulders. It was quite a lovely scene here in the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia.

Beautiful. Tranquil. Serene.

In two more days, the actual full moon will be in effect, and on Saturday, December 21st at 12:11 p.m., the Winter Solstice will descend upon those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere. I absolutely adore this time of year, while so many others hate the cold weather that is typical in the Mid-Atlantic states. But I always feel optimistic as the old year runs out and the new year rings in.  I hope this change of seasons gives you pause to reflect, meditate, and contemplate positive change. Here are some Haiku verses I wrote in anticipation of the Winter Solstice.

While others curse and
scorn winter, I marvel in
its stark cold beauty.

Joy surges through me
as the fresh snow flakes dance and
swirl around my face.

I feel a certain
peace in knowing the earth is
preparing for Spring.

Asante Sana. Peace and Blessings Always

Thursday, December 5, 2013


July 18, 1918 - December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela,
our peaceful warrior, has
gone home to glory.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


The gift of this day
evokes in me a sense of
profound gratitude.

For many of us, this time of year represents an escalated surge of activities.  We’re traveling, visiting, sprucing up, shopping for food and gifts and cooking up all of our special recipes in anticipation of Thanksgiving.  As I prepare for my observance of this holiday with my own precious family and friends, I feel a sense of overwhelming gratitude.

I am so thankful.

Yet I can’t help but to think about all of the families and individuals who are struggling.   The soup lines here in Philly are getting longer and longer. Men. Women. Children. Standing in line for hours just to get a plate of food to eat. And the homeless situation just breaks my heart.

I feel a sense of sorrow for those in the midst of burying loved ones in a season so often associated with joy. And my sympathy also goes out to those among us who are observing Thanksgiving for the first time since the loss of a close loved-one. So as you gather for your merrymaking, and toast the season, please don’t forget to say a prayer and extend a kind gesture for those who are going through.

Asante Sana
Peace and Blessings Always

Sunday, November 17, 2013

You Are What You Think

Change your thinking and
get the meaningful results
you want out of life

I wasn’t always so happy and positive and full of gratitude like I am now.
Some years back, I was stuck. My house was under construction and so was I. The room where I typically cloistered myself to write was being renovated following the ceiling caving in, following the roof leaking, following any number of financial and emotional disasters. My discipline, my schedule, my commitment to my art had seriously faltered. I needed to write but there were a litany of excuses.

Constantly blaming. Overwhelmed. Ashamed. Exhausted. I felt like a worthless piece of crap. I kept re-living past hurts. Eventually I became the poster child for abuse, depression, victimization. Time after time, I slowly climbed my way up out of the hole, only to slip back down, down, down. Then one year, as my birthday approached, my sister Esther gave me this beautiful painting of an angel. It just struck all the right notes with me.

“Hmmmmm. Where am I going to put it?" I wondered.

Shortly after that, my dear friend Joyce called:  “Mama Pheralyn, what do you really want for your birthday?”

It only took me a few seconds to reply:  “I want my writing studio set up so I can get on with some of these projects I’ve started.”

“So what’s holding your back? I thought the guys were finished putting up the drywall and didn’t Malik paint the room?”

“Yeah, but now I’m going to make that room my bedroom, my Zen temple.”


“I have to get new bedroom furniture. Plus I’ll need a new sofa and living room furniture because I’m setting up my new writing studio as a magic room where I can just let my creativity flow, so I’m taking the sofa and the love seat out of the living room and putting them in my writing room. So when I get the new furniture, then I can switch the rooms around.”

 “That sounds absolutely ridiculous.”

(Joyce never was one to mince her words.)

“What’s stopping you from moving around the furniture you already have?”

(The idea had never occurred to me.)  “You know Joyce, that just might work.”
Within a few days I had the guys come over and tackle the massive job of moving furniture up and down three flights of stairs. The result is the room I’m writing in right now:  my ‘magic room, where I can just let my creativity flow.’

Every time I sit at my desk, just to my left is the painting of ‘my angel.’ The manifestation of creating my magic room by moving around what I already owned clearly demonstrates the power of thought patterns. Flip the coin and lack turns into luck. Once you are willing to change the way you think, you allow miracles to happen in an instant.

Remember: You are what you think

Change your thinking and
get the meaningful results
you want out of life.

Asante Sana
Peace and Blessings Always

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad! - 94 & Still Going Strong! Samuel C. Dove, Sr.

I am fortunate
To have Loving Friends and a
Loving Family

My Dad was born on October 29, 1919. He turned 94 years old today. What an awesome blessing! Doesn't he look handsome wearing the new hat my Mom gave him? To mark this special occasion, I share a tribute I wrote in his honor. It appears in my book of poetry, “Color in Motion,” which features a foreword by drumming legend Max Roach.

My Hero

When I say I’m proud of
Who I am, the people
I come from

I truly mean it

When I say I’m thankful
You’re always there,
Teaching all those lessons,

I truly mean it

When I say I’m proud of your genius, your intellect,
Your craftsmanship,

I truly mean it

When I say your jovial sense of humor
Makes this world a better place,

Friday, October 18, 2013

Necessary Losses

Like the Emancipation Oak, where Hampton University was founded, our friendships have withstood the test of time. But not without  life's "Necessary Losses."

We are all on this
road, traveling life’s journeys
through good times and bad

The Hampton University Chapel, where Bill and Gina were married in 1977
To look up and realize I still have the same friends 40 years later is truly a blessing, a miracle to behold. Many of my classmates from Hampton are still on a natural high, having recently returned to our beloved alma mater for Homecoming Weekend. While I wasn’t able to attend, Homecoming was definitely on my mind, as well as graduation and all the reunions we’ve celebrated since. Here I share “Necessary Losses,” a photo essay I created  in commemoration of our 35th reunion in May 2012. All of the photos were taken with my trusty digital pocket camera.

Here I pay my respects and share some experiences. I pay reverence and respect to the passage of time , to the way we have been able to survive our often complicated and conflicted lives while maintaining our priceless friendships. I pay reverence and respect to the power of memory.
Hampton's pristine waterfront campus remains the same after all these years
Yes, I remember:  The shimmering water sparkled

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Do Writers Support Themselves?

2009 Photo of Pheralyn Dove, teaching her Practical Writing Class at Temple University's PASCEP Program.
Theresa Rivers Photo

Writers resort to all sorts of tactics to get their writing in and pay the bills. Even though there are lots of writers who find enough contract, publishing and freelance work to stay solvent, quite often, a day job is in the mix. Some writers teach. Others drive taxis, work in labs, wait tables and clean other people’s houses, while still managing to devote time to their craft. 

Not that I’m ashamed of it or anything, but I rarely tell people what I do for a living, how I actually manage to support myself. When asked, I say:  “I’m a writer.” When they begin to probe and ask what kind, I say: “Creative and technical.” And if they continue to probe and ask if I’ve been published, I reply, “Yes. I have a book of poetry.” I rarely volunteer that I spent 20 years of my life in news rooms as an arts reporter, or that over the last ten years I have ramped up my income from creative projects by working a day job as a grant writer for the School District of Philadelphia.

But I’m over myself now. I have reconciled all the various parts of me. So yes. I have a day job. And yes, it requires that I do a lot of writing. And no, I don’t find it boring or “less than.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Today’s Offering: Magical Thinking

Magical thinking
makes miracles happen in
our everyday lives

I live my life in a state of perpetual gratitude. I believe in magic. I believe in miracles. Not just the ethereal, other-worldly stuff. But the everyday stuff too. The stuff we all too often take for granted. Like our breath. What a miracle -  the way our bodies breathe for us each and every moment of our lives. And what about other functions our bodies perform, like sight, mobility, hearing, touch, taste, smell and so many other wonders.

Sometimes I am aware of divine intervention during the course of my daily routines. I find my car keys just in the nick of time, pay a bill and revel in the realization that I have the money to pay it, or consider the fact that I am one of five siblings and we are all friends. Indeed. My family, my friends, my comfortable lifestyle  - all miracles. And this precious gift of writing – another miracle that I am humbled to perceive. I’ve shared my artist’s statement many times before and I’ll repeat it again:
“Each and every poem I write, I consider a gift from God. A turn of a phrase. Emotions that surface. An experience distilled into verse. Each offering is a present from the Creator. All praises, I say. Thank you for choosing me as the vessel.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Today’s Offering: Resist Resistance

Resistance often
takes the form of fear to
block us from our goals

Here’s a picture I took of gorgeous fall foliage in Fairmount Park. I totally love this time of year, especially because it is my birthday season. Last week I took some time to celebrate. Which to me means time for peace and quiet. Every year I take time to read, write, pray, give thanks, practice my music, reflect, take long walks, go out for a nice jog here and there, take photos, work outside in my yard, meditate and more or less catch up to myself.  Then, once I’m restored, I’m happy to get together with family and friends.

My first day off I gave Denys a call during my walk to the track. I reminded her the next day was my birthday. We laughed. We have this long standing joke. Even though we have been friends for decades, and were born in the same month of the same year, I’m always reminding her when my birthday comes. And more often than not, I’m reminding her when her birthday comes too.  She was about to go into a meeting, so our conversation was cut short.

Then I opened up YouTube on my smart phone, where I had cued up MarieForleo’s vlog post about six so-called health foods that should be avoided. Then I went down the rabbit hole of and stumbled onto her interview with Steven Pressfield. Marie had a dog-eared, much-loved, marked up copy of his book, “The War of Art.” 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today’s Offering: Try to Love Yourself

Even though I love
myself just as I am, I
still seek improvement

Ever hear that critical voice inside insisting that you are not enough? Is that voice hammering away insisting that if only this, if only that, if only the other, I’d be okay? Have you ever frowned upon seeing a photo of yourself? Or do you ever look in the mirror and cringe? Do you dismiss loving yourself today and think you’ll be okay once you lose the extra pounds, do something with your hair, land a new job or work your way out of debt? I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I’m also here to tell you that you’re fine just the way you are. You deserve to be loved exactly as you are. You deserve most of all, to be loved by you. Approve of yourself. It’s your birthright to love who you are, right here, right now. The process of self-discovery and self-improvement lasts a lifetime.

Commit to making improvements where you can. But also, please make a conscious effort to silence the critical voice.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Today’s Offering: Talents, Gifts and Abilities

When Source created
us, we were all instantly
endowed with talents

Today’s Haiku gives all of us permission to be ourselves. Each and every one of us is unique. We’re all gifted with special talents completely our own. This is a photo I shot of a winter sunrise in my Overbrook neighborhood. Sometimes, on those perfect days when I'm at my desk writing by 4:30 in the morning and out the door to start my run at dawn, I pause and capture the magic. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Today's Haiku, Photo and Musings

Desire nothing
Believe you already have
Everything you need

Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry that I love. Its simple format calls for three lines, containing five syllables in the first, seven syllables in the second and five syllables in the third line, for a total of 17 syllables. I make it a daily practice to write Haiku. 

Today I leave you to think about your thoughts, your wants and your desires. If you go to a place inside your heart where you feel an abundance of gratitude, you will find that all of your desires are coming to you, so you relinquish the need to actually desire anything. 

I also love to take a lot of photographs. Here is a pic of Hampton University's waterfront campus, in Hampton, Virginia. I spent my pivotal developmental days here, as an undergraduate student. I often went to the waterfront alone. That's where I reflected on the meaning of life, wrote stories and poetry, and fearlessly obeyed my muse. The last time

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Writing To My Summer Solstice!

Summer Solstice! Lilies in Bloom! Super Moon! Midnight Sky! Daylight at Dawn! So many reasons to celebrate life. And so much inspiration to write about. Sometimes I write when I’m in the hole, digging my way up from depression. Other times I write to learn or to share. I read, listen, research, travel, interview, absorb, organize, synthesize and formulate: a poem, an essay, an article, a proposal, a monologue, a fiction, a blog post. But most often, I write because I must.

“Each and every poem I write, I consider a gift from God. A turn of a phrase. Emotions that surface. An experience distilled into verse. Each offering is a present from the Creator. All praises, I say. Thank you for choosing me as the vessel.”

It’s not like I ever consciously chose to become a writer. Writing chose me.  I fell in love with the craft in 1960 at the age of five when I began to write letters to my grandmother, who lived 500 miles away in South Carolina. I have continued to write ever since.  And yet, even as I upload this post, I have three blogs languishing in various stages of inactivity.

Why three blogs?
First I started out with “Cultural Collideoscope.” I created it as a repository for my musings and meanderings about the arts:  music, dance, drama, film, visual art, fashion – all the cultural stuff that so inspires and defines me. I invented “Cultural Collideoscope” so I would have a place of my own to profile and review artists and a plethora of family and community events, especially because I so often find myself on the cultural scene, being overwhelmed with inspiration, taking the pulse of my life. Being me. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Odunde - A Celebration of African Culture

Pheralyn Dove Photo

African traditions in all their glory and splendor are celebrated every second Sunday in June at Philadelphia’s Odunde Festival. I always look forward to Odunde. Here I have captured photographs and written a series of Haiku verses to commemorate this observance that embraces the African Diaspora and pays homage to West African rituals. Odunde was created in 1975 by Lois Fernandez upon her return from a profound journey to the Motherland.
Odunde is a
Spiritual gathering that
celebrates Oshun.
Pheralyn Dove Photo

Odunde is based
on African traditions,
folkways and mores.
Pheralyn Dove Photo

The second Sunday
in June is set aside to
Celebrate Oshun.
Pheralyn Dove Photo

Pheralyn Dove Photo
For each Odunde
Festival, Oshun holds back
the clouds and the rain.

Pheralyn Dove Photo

Water is a part
of Odunde rituals
we observe each year.

South Street Bridge overlooks
Schuylkill River, where we
Praise our Ancestors.
Pheralyn Dove Photo
Pheralyn Dove Photo

Blessings pour down while
Praises go up to Oshun,
our River Goddess.

We chant prayers to our
Ancestors; We hold hands and
ask Oshun’s blessings.
Pheralyn Dove Photo
Pheralyn Dove Photo
Pheralyn Dove Photo

Mountains, Rivers, and
oceans do not separate
us from Africa.

We give thanks and praise
for our Ancestors’ gifts and
their sacrifices.

Pheralyn Dove Photo

Dancers and drummers
perform with exuberance,
pure love, joy and pride.
Pheralyn Dove Photo

Dazzling array of
beautiful families are
wonderful to see.
Pheralyn Dove Photo

We come attired
in our traditional garb;
We celebrate life!
Pheralyn Dove Photo

We hug old friends and
make new acquaintances in
the huge marketplace.

Some vendors sell food
Some sell clothes, while others sell
Textiles and sculptures.
Pheralyn Dove Photo

Jewelry and handmade
trinkets of all sorts are on
exquisite display.
Lois Fernandez, Odunde Founder - Pheralyn Dove Photo
Pheralyn Dove Photo

Designers show off
their unique creations and
entice you to buy.

Pheralyn Dove Photo

Asante Sana. Peace, Blessings & Homage to Oshun Always!