Poetry News

Black Lives Matter: A Roundup of Worthy Reads

By Harriet Staff


In the wake of the Michael Brown grand jury non-indictment, this poetry-news day is a slow one. Or is it? Some links we feel might be worth a moment of your time:

1. Audre Lorde's "Power."

2. From the blog of our own Don Share: an Open Letter to White Poets From Danez Smith.

I am asking you to explode the canon with what we must make sure is remembered in this nation. We cannot leave the duty of elegy for black bodies and calls for our fellow citizens to rise, even if wounded or enraged or scared, to the catalogues of solely black artist. We must write the American Lyric like Claudia Rankine so fearless writes, no matter now brutal or reflective it might be for you. There are people I cannot reach because what I make is degraded (& why not glorified?) for its label of black art. I implore, I need you to make art, black, dark art that shines an honest light on the histories of your paler kin. I ask you to join those fighting, under the cry of “Black Lives Matter”, in whatever way you can. Research ways you can be involved in your local community, think critically about how you can use your privilege and influence effect change; I challenge you to make art that demands the safety of me, of many of your writing siblings, of so many people walking the streets in fear of those who are charged to protect us, even of people who we hesitate at times to call our fellow Americans.

2.1 More from Danez Smith at BuzzFeed, via Split this Rock and Poetry: “Not An Elegy For Mike Brown”: Two Poems For Ferguson.

3. The Paris Review Daily posts a poem from a forthcoming issue, Frederick Seidel's "The Ballad of Ferguson, Missouri."

4. Black Ocean is making Black Friday count, by donating money otherwise spent on the unofficial shopping day to an organization that works toward equality and justice. All proceeds spent on purchases made through their website will go to the NAACP.

5. Video made in collaboration with John Lucas of Claudia Rankine's "Situation #6" from Citizen:

6. Split This Rock offers a number of ways to respond, including asking poets to write poems, calling the Department of Justice, signing a petition started by ColorOfChange, taking to the streets, and reading and sharing poems (list included at STR).

7. Leading Asian-American authors and scholars have signed an open letter in support of the Ferguson community and the family of Michael Brown.