Monday, January 5, 2009
Come Together: Imagine Peace
If you're looking for a good pre-inauguration read, try this new collection of poems from the folks at Bottom Dog Press. Here you'll find some of the usual suspects (Wendell Berry, Robert Bly, Carolyn Forche, Robert Creeley, Sam Hamill, Audre Lorde, Denise Levertov, Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Robert Pinsky, Gary Snyder, Martin Espada, etc.) reminding us in their crafted words of the destructive power of war. June Jordan's "The Bombing of Baghdad" wastes no time getting down to it:
". . . we bombed Iraq we bombed Baghdad
we bombed Basra/ we bombed military
installations we bombed the National Museum
we bombed schools we bombed air raid
shelters we bombed water we bombed
electricity we bombs hospitals we
bombed streets we bombed highways . . ."
(I don't know if you're like me, but sometimes I need to be given the specifics of our warring--not to the point where I am sickened, but enough to make me continue to work to end the conflict in Iraq.)
Lawrence Ferlinghetti's ("Populist Manifesto No. 1") caught me with its mixture of humor and finger-pointing rage at the so-called poets of the world:
"Poets, come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed up too long
in your closed worlds.
Come down, come down
from your Russian Hills and Telegraph Hills,
your Beacon Hills and your Chapel Hills . . .
No more chanting Hare Krishna
while Rome burns . . .
The hour of oming is over,
the time of keening come . . .
All you den mothers of poetry,
All you zen brothers of poetry,
All you suicide lovers of poetry,
All you hairy professors of poesie,
All you poetry reviewers
drinking the blood of the poet,
All you Poetry Police--
Where are Whitman's wild children . . ."
Oh, this is good stuff.
Along with names you'll find familiar, you'll also find work by the highly skillful but lesser known who, it turns out, also know how to turn a mirror up to the saber rattlers and the fabled peacemakers: Susan Rich, Derek Sheffield, Barbara Crooker, Sarah Zale, & Holly Hughes, among many others.
I hear from editor Larry Smith that this book is moving fast off Amazon's warehouse shelves, and since there's some demand for it they're selling it at cost. You can also order directly from the kind folks at Bottom Dog Press.
For those of you in the Seattle area, mark your calendars for a reading of local contributors (myself included) at Elliott Bay Books on Sunday, January 25, 4 pm.