A Micro Essay

Audre Lorde said, “Revolution is not a one time act” and neither is a poem. A poem echoes long after it is written and read. Each reverberation is another chance- to interrupt the silence, to break stillness, to crack open the subjection and stuntedness we wake to daily.

When asked to write about how poetry combats hate in a time of ignorance, part of me wanted to say it doesn’t. I consider the constant debate over women’s reproductive rights, the fight over the territory of her body. I consider my sister who survived the longest 15 minutes of her life, belly-to-ground as bullets punched holes in a Las Vegas concert. I consider the dreamers, the defense of DACA, the need to give others a name other than citizen, friend, neighbor.

My heart half mast. My newsfeed a eulogy. Most days if feels like we have already sunk.

I am sick of writing poems about the same damn thing.

But then I consider the youth. The boat they’re building. A tomorrow named by change. I’m blessed with a job where I work to develop young poets and their voice. Every day they ask me how to best write (and talk) about these things. Lately the only answer I can muster is “together.” Because that is what poetry does: it opens the doors to many separate houses and offers a place at the table. To sip on a perspective different and the same as your own. To revel in aftertaste of empathy.

I believe that poetry can change the world. Just like the world has changed poetry. These day poetry is fighting back. Poets redefine the world for themselves.

Today their words are louder. The honor more heavy. Outstanding poet Kaveh Akbar says we are living in the Golden Age of poetry. And I agree, the work has never been more poignant than it is today. Unfortunately all that light has to constantly battle the darkness that surrounds it. Bu still we, as poets as people, shine on.

This past year, I wrote a poem comprised only of words taken from the Donald Trump’s locker-room-words banter with Bill Bush. I’m told the poem, which will be published in the Not My President Anthology is haunting. I have never read it out loud for an audience because it feels too crash, and too chillingly.

Maybe it hurts to consider (out loud) what we have given power.

Poetry can shift that.

This is still a country filled with greedy hands. But also hands that hold. That honor. That praise.

I hope to show my children this poem one day. To look back at this time and said “I resisted.” We rose our words and but now we are doing better. We hurt. Then heal. The poems taught us how.

Since I started this essay to the time I have finalized it there have been two major Hollywood figures accused and prosecuted for sexual harassment of women. There have also been at least two more mass shooting.

Poetry captures our unrest a collective duende, a wrestle between darkness and light. I think poets have always felt a civic responsibility to break the silence. To comfort the darkness. So we write into the spaces that need conversations to be started. To know there are those like us. And different from us. Poetry is the house we build and tear down, in an effort to seek shelter from both the things in us and around us. May we never stop building.