September 11, 2015

A Report from the Maelstrom

I've been sleeping incredibly odd hours (today's wake up time: 3 AM) and nursing a sick kitty. I'm both ready for fall and deeply terrified by the onset of fall. But I would be remiss if I didn't check in to share this apology, which AWP Executive Director David Fenza extended to professor and writer Laura Mullen. 

An apology is an appropriate, appreciated gesture. An apology is not a a fix-all. There is a lot of work to be done, as has been evidenced by the continuing storm of discussion around the (American) poetry world.

These are some of the most powerful things I have read in the past few weeks….

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo - "Kate Gale, Red Hen, and What Poetry and Community Mean to Me"

Linda Rodriguez - "Why Taking Issue with Racist, Homophobic, Ableist Stereotypes Does Not Equal Being a Member of ISIS and Other Home Truths"

Brian Spears - "Yellowface in Poetry"

David Mura - "On the Controversy Over A White Poet Submitting as 'Yi-Fen Chou' and Being Chosen By Sherman Alexie for the Best American Poetry Anthology"

Molly Brodak - "How (Not) to Apologize"

I've seen some fatigue in social media, especially in the past week: complaints that poets are spending too much energy on slings and arrows, not enough time on poems. But I don't see why one has to crowd out the other. There are wonderful things going on in the poetry world every day. Chen Chen's chapbook is out. Emilia Phillips published this beautiful, hard poem, "Scar.Tafisha A. Edwards published this beautiful, hard poem, "The Double Blind." Joy Harjo just won the Wallace Stevens Award. Iliana Rocha's Karankawa, the manuscript Joy chose for the 2014 Donald Hall Prize, is out. The new issue of Poetry Northwest is out, and it's a humdinger.

I'm not fatigued. Well, I am, but that's because I'm drinking Red Bull and gazing lovingly at a cat with a flesh wound who seems determined to sleep on the top edge of the couch despite the risk of falling off, and I still have hours of work to do. But in terms of poetry, I refuse to feel anything other than energized and grateful for all the bravery, all the words, all the tussle, and even the moments of necessary discord, as long as they can signify that growth is taking place. And that's on us--to make that change happen, rather than letting it all collapse into blather. 

More soon.