Wednesday, November 30, 2016

After the Deplorable Fact of It: 'We will always have our poetry"

            Here are some of the reactions to the recent electoral disaster ("democra-cide" is my term for it) I've gathered from poets and writers, especially from the Verse-Virtual poetry community, and from other digital sources:
            "No one can stop me from becoming the most fully human being I am able to become. No one can stop me from believing. No one can force me to become intolerant or unkind to others who do not look like I do, talk like I do, believe like I do. I will not say I am unafraid, but today I will dance, and today I will love, and no one can stop me." -- Laura Kaminski, poet

"We refuse to disappear. We keep our commitments to fairness in front of the legislators who oppose us, lock arms with the ones who are with us, and in the words of Congressman John Lewis, prepare to get ourselves in some good trouble." -- Barbara Kingsolver, author

 "Everybody knows the fight was fixed The poor stay poor, the rich get rich That's how it goes Everybody knows..."
-- lyrics from Leonard Cohen's song "Everybody Knows," offered by poet Neil Creighton
"This is New York. Nothing about who we are changed on Election Day." -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio:

"We need more people like de Blasio to stand up and say, 'No. We will not accept. We will not comply.' ... [Others say we should] shut up and ensure a 'smooth transition?  Go fuck yourself." -- SemDem []
"Let's take some comfort in the fact that we still have our values and our community. And we will always have our poetry.  These things will not change." -- Firestone Feinberg, editor of Verse-Virtual, in his notes on the December issue

         While most of the poems appearing in the December 2016 issue of Verse-Virtual were written before Election Day, some of them refer to the results in varying degrees of directness.
             Here is an excerpt from a poem in December's Verse-Virtual by Sonia Greenfield titled "American Parable":

Throw your
rocks at those people, he said.
They are to blame, he said, so stones
flew at people who shared their land,
who kissed the faces of their children,
who raised their flags, who loved
their dogs, but who were different. 

         Anyone reading my poems in the December issue will have not doubt that these were written after the election. I began the poem "The Gift That Keeps on Giving (or: I'm Going to Yoga)" with the intention of writing on the idea of "a gift," a holiday season theme, but you can see for yourself what happened.
Here's an excerpt from the poem: 

I shrink my violets, hide in my trees,
wake in the morning like the last man
in a Twilight Zone episode stunned to find he is here all alone
Be careful not to step on your glasses
on the way to reading Sinclair Lewis's "It can't happen here"
Or that science fiction story
where the rich game hunter goes back in geological time, steps off the path, and changes history so that in his own day the fascist is elected President.

You can read the rest of this poem, and all the others in December's Verse-Virtual at: