Poetry in a Time of Protest

Edwidge Danticat in The New Yorker:

Danticat-PoetryinaTimeofProtest-690Political language, like poetry, is rarely uttered without intention. When Trump said, unconvincingly in his speech, that “we are one nation, and their pain is our pain,” I knew that the They was Us, this separate America, which he continually labels and addresses as Other. “Their dreams are our dreams,” he added. To which I could hear the eternal bard of Harlem, Langston Hughes, shout from his grave, “What happens to a dream deferred?” or “I, too, am America.” The late Gwendolyn Brooks, a Chicagoan and the Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry in 1950, might have chimed in with “Speech to the Young,” a poem about one manner of resisting and what we now commonly call “self-care”:

Say to them,

say to the down-keepers,

the sun-slappers,

the self-soilers,

the harmony-hushers,

“Even if you are not ready for day

it cannot always be night.”

You will be right.

For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.

Live not for the-end-of-the-song.

Live in the along.

Looking to both living and dead poets for words of inspiration and guidance is now part of my living “in the along,” for however many years this particular “night” lasts.

More here.