Resistance Poetry Publications

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I’m happy to have had three new poems published this past week, two in The Guardian for an article curated by Amy King and Jane Spencer, and one in Rise Up Review, published by Sonia Greenfield.

The two in The Guardian, “I Lift My Lamp” and “Mother of Exile,” were written in response to Trump’s support of a “merit”-based immigration policy and Jim Acosta’s question regarding whether or not the plan violated the spirit of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus,” inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

The other poets of the New Colossus project are: Bob Hicok, Amy King, Rita Dove, Jane Hirshfield, Shane McCrae, Lynn Melnick, Stephanie (Stephen) Burt, Bhanu Kapil, Srikanth Reddy, John Yau, Patricia Smith, Craig Santos Perez, Cornelius Eady, Muriel Leung, Kaveh Akbar, Paul Guest, Matthew Zapruder, Joan Naviyuk Kane, Carmen Gimenez Smith, and Hanif Abdurraqib.

The Guardian also invites their readers to submit poems on the topic and will publish a selection of their favorite reader-submitted poems. You can read more about how to enter here.

The poem in Rise Up Review, “Bell” was written for the “#Writers Resist / Houston: ‘We Too Sing America’” reading sponsored by PEN America, Calypso Editions, and Librotraficante, and hosted by then Houston Poet Laureate Robin Davidson. I was happy to see it find a home on the net with Rise Up Review.

Voices of Bettering American Poetry Interview

What’s the earliest experience, or a stand-out experience, you can remember that made you realize that you can be yourself, write as yourself, and write about issues that matter to you? Has this been difficult for you? 


Telling my truth as a woman and a writer has not only been difficult; it’s one of the greatest, most ongoing battles of my life. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that almost every day I write is a day I struggle to say what I really think and feel. As well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge that what I really think and feel is at times so repressed by and so buried beneath everything I am supposed to be that I can hardly find it to write about it.

Realizing that you can be yourself, write as yourself, and write about issues that matter to you is not the same as feeling empowered to do so. For me, it’s a process, and the biggest awakening has been reading Audre Lorde. I’m not all the way brave or all the way awake yet, but reading Lorde shook me up and startled me out of a sort of debilitating politeness. She made me realize that it’s not only my right—it’s my responsibility—to speak my truth. I came to her late, through my girlfriend, Amy King, and I wish I’d discovered her decades ago. My whole life would have been different. I keep Sister Outsider on my desk, and I keep quotes from “Poetry is Not a Luxury” and “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” on my hard drive. Lorde says:

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

What liberates me is not overcoming fear but taking fear for that wild ride from my gut out to the page.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.




Harriet at the Poetry Foundation: “What is Literary Activism?”


Here’s my small contribution to Amy King’s post “What is Literary Activism?” at the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog. To read Amy’s amazing intro and inspiring words from Samiya BashirRosebud Ben-OniAna BožičevićEmily BrandtKen ChenMelissa FebosSuzi F. Garcia, Eunsong Kim, Jason KooLynn MelnickShane McCraeLaura MullenHéctor Ramírez, Jessica Reidy (Jezmina Von Thiele), Metta Sáma, and Arisa White, click the link to the full post.

In a recent interview conducted by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates stated, “Finally I think one has to even abandon the phrase ‘ally’ and understand that you are not helping someone in a particular struggle; the fight is yours.” This is what literature can do, if properly wielded: It can help us know, and even more so, feel, that nothing that impacts another human can be truly separate from ourselves. Whether we are black or white; blind or seeing; male, female, or gender fluid, we are all made of the guts of stars. We all breathe and live and long. We are all limbs of the great organism that is humanity. Students who read not just John Donne and Ralph Waldo Emerson, but Leslie Marmon Silko, Lucille Clifton, and Maxine Hong Kingston too will not have to be taught this. They will just know. They will feel it because they will have inhabited the minds of characters and authors whose experiences have grown them into larger human beings, who have taught them to feel the limbs of humanity not connected to their own physical bodies.

Sadly, we’ve seen the canon restrict literary empathy to a repetitive and limited experience of the world. We’ve seen privileged by literature those who were already privileged by life. This is not only wrong; it is dangerous for the people whose experiences, and therefore, lives, are not being valued. My activism is and has been to work towards growing our conception of literature to shape the world we want to have. Closest to home, that means making sure my students are not deprived of marginalized voices and perspectives—that their empathy reaches far and wide. In a broader sense, it means striving to provide those voices with platforms previously denied. That’s the work I’m doing with the forthcoming VIDA Voices & Views interview program—engaging a wide range of voices that we need to hear and learn from and spotlighting people in the field who are doing the good work.