This being the final Friday of the month means it’s time for We Are the World Blogfest, a day for promoting positive news. It’s been a while since I participated, but I’m ready and happy to break my blogging hiatus today.
Co-hosting the project this month are: Your cohosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Simon Falk, Damyanti Biswas, Lizbeth Hartz and Eric Lahti. Do check out their posts, along with everyone else participating, and feel free to join us here.
In these grief- and outrage-provoking times when my government shamefully insists on xenophobic attitudes and anti-immigration policies and apparently thinks only old white men’s opinions and voices are worth anything, I believe it’s essential to counter those messages. It especially delights me to report that Joy Harjo has been appointed the new U.S. poet laureate, and will serve as the first Native American in the position.
Read more about her here, with the opportunity to listen to hear read some of her work and listen to an interview with her as well. Additionally this page offers some of her poems to read.
You can find some of her poems to read here.
It’s no secret I love poetry and, as anyone who does, I have my favorite poets. Joy Harjo will always be one of them. I discovered her decades ago when I was navigating some challenging times and her words ripped holes in my soul in more ways than I can count. She also happens to be a musician playing the alto saxophone, and one of her albums Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century literally was on constant play for me for ages, particularly her well-known piece “She Had Some Horses.” It is her belief that when reading her poetry, by adding her music she opens the listener’s heart to receive the message in different way. I’ve certainly found that to be true.
While on the topic of native voices I can’t help but mention a book I’ve been dipping into deeply this summer – “Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry, Craft and Conversations.” It’s a gem published by Tupelo Press thanks to a successful Kickstarter funding campaign. I’m a big fan of crowdfunding and absolutely believe we should support those people and projects we resonate with – with our wallets, our time, and our attention. I supported this project because I believe there is a great need deep listening and support of indigenous voices. But I was especially moved by the words of Craig Santos Perez, and indigenous Chamoru. He said:
“I write from a continuous space of erasure. Poetry was the one way that I was able to hold onto…my history, geography, and language.”
That we allow even the possibility that someone feels they are in a continuous space of erasure, let alone that we in truth practice this atrocity blatantly in our society, grieves me beyond measure. It’s up to us to change this; to celebrate unity in our diversity; but most of all to step away from fear of others that drives our separation consciousness.
I absolutely agree with what Roger Housden has said:
” Poetry at its best calls forth our deep being. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind; it calls to us, like the wild geese, as Mary Oliver would say, from an open sky. It is a magical art, and always has been — a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never have dared to dream of.
This is why poetry can be dangerous as well as necessary. Because we may never be the same again after reading a poem that happens to speak to our own life directly.”
It is my hope we can listen and never be the same, and that we are always moving in the direction of greater empowerment, greater harmony, and deeper peace.