What Kind of Times Are These- Adrienne Rich

It seems as if every week, there is some new bit of news. That shakes us and shapes us. It may be something scary or horrifying or a reminder of just how much we are intrinsically linked as people. In a world that is changing with every blink of the eye it is essential to remember we should feel compelled to resist anything anyone that tries to divide us. 

Please enjoy this piece of resistance literature by Adrienne Rich. 

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows

near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted

who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled

this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,

our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods

meeting the unmarked strip of light—

ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:

I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you

anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these

to have you listen at all, it’s necessary

to talk about trees.

Still I Rise-Maya Angelou

When ​I was younger, I once read that artists bear the pain of humanity. I probably scoffed thinking that was a bit heavy. However, this weekend my heart does bear that pain. And it is very heavy. In light of the events that have taken place in Charlottesville it only seemed apropos to share the work of Maya Angelou. 

I hope we the people, who are human enough to see humanity in all our fellow people, continue to rise. 



You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

For the Consideration of Poets-Haki Madhubuti

When I first started college, I had no idea what my major would be. Now it seems so silly but I didn’t have a major until I took a Black Studies class in my second year. When that happened…it was like all the things that people describe when they have an epiphany. All of a sudden, I knew that I wanted to major in English and minor in African American Studies.

I know that my decision was rooted in the beauty that was the reading material for the class.  However, I also know that it was because the class combined two of my favorite subjects: English and History.

I’ve said many times here that poetry is rebellion. It is resistance and a call to arms. Poetry can be a perfectly formed arrow to aim instead of actual projectiles. This poem by Haki Madhubuti reminds us all of that. Although today is James Baldwin’s birthday, and he was critical of protest literature I am sharing a piece that, in my opinion, pays homage to him.

Enjoy!

black arts movement

where is the poetry of resistance, 
                     the poetry of honorable defiance 
unafraid of lies from career politicians and business men, 
not respectful of journalist who write 
official speak void of educated thought 
without double search or sub surface questions 
that war talk demands? 
where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion 
not in the service of the state, bishops and priests, 
not in the service of beautiful people and late night promises, 
not in the service of influence, incompetence and academic 
         clown talk?