“This virus is teaching us that from now on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights are not far left issues, but issues of right versus wrong, life versus death.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, American Protestant minister and political activist. Rev. Barber is the author of several recommended books. His Amazon page is HERE.
The dreams can drive you crazy sometimes
The ones that envision a just world, one
Where equity is the backbone of endurance
A vineyard of bliss, so to speak, a garden of joy
Relative to the greed times of unworthy living
In a penthouse with a golden toilet, while
Others sleep on cardboard outside, urinating
In the streets, begging for lunch and walking
Barefoot in the snow, betrayed from day one
By the false ideal of rugged independence,
Of monied might is alright, of resource hording
By the richest and unconscionable trafficking of
Children for the unhinged pleasures of the elite Oh my God, how did this happen? and who
Might have thought that the munitions factory
Of a deadly virus would bring us nose to nose?
How COVID-19 recognizes no bank account or
Prestigious position, just drops its noxious tidbits
Indiscrimanently, into lungs of princes, prime ministers
Those sleeping rough on city streets, its travels
Enhanced by an uneven distribution of access
To water, healthcare, space, living wages,
Paid time off, the rudiments of a civilized life
Girded by compassionate societies, lessons
Learned, we await implementation, and
Dare we move beyond yearning to hope
This poem and post are dedicated to the much admired Rev. William Barber and to Bernie Sanders.
WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT
This week we focus on right versus wrong, life versus death, on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights. Dare we move beyond yearning to hope. Tell us you thoughts in your poem/s and
please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose
Poems submitted on theme in the comments section here will be published in next Tuesday’s collection. Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published. If you are new to The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, be sure to include a link to your website, blog, and/or Amazon page to be published along with your poem. Thank you!
Deadline: Monday, April 6 by 8 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.
Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro. It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.
You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.
To mark International Poetry Month April 2020, we at The BeZineblog invite submissions of poems on the current pandemic. To paraphrase R. Buckminster, think globally but write locally. Write from your context about your experience during this Time of Coronavirus, but at the same time, reflecting to larger global contexts. Write about glimmers from within the crisis that illuminate ourselves, our world, and the world(s) possibly coming to us afterwards.
We especially look for poetry that projects changes (positive or negative) that may evolve from this crisis:
• worldwide coordination/collaboration
• resources of one sort or another—old, new, emerging; shared or fought-over
• the impact the pandemic might have on:
° women and the role they play in assuring good health and hygiene
° the poor and low-wage or middle class workers
° water and the environment
° war and conflict, and
° addressing the climate issues that contribute significantly to this and looming pandemics.
What about the communities—perhaps yours—that have no running water and are also therefor ravaged by typhoid, cholera, and dysentry?
In the spirit of love (respect) and community,
Michael Dickel, Co-Manging Editor, The BeZine
Mbizo Chirasha, Curator of Womawords Literary Press, Co-Host of The BeZine International Poetry Month
Jamie Dedes, Founding Editor and Co-Mnaging Editor, The BeZine
Thank you for sharing your love of words. Comments will appear after moderation.
“If we survive, we may have to analyze our engagement with dark matters that that put life at risk. If we don’t, we are to blame for our end. For now, let’s keep hygienic, keep to ourselves, bury our Dead, care for the dying and think of how we have arrived at where we are.” Mbizo Chirasha
Editor’s Note: This is Mbizo’s response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt. The rest of the poems will be published tomorrow (Tuesday) as usual. Posting his poem on its own allows me to remind everyone that we still seek safe harbor for Mbizo in his exile from Zimbabwe. If you can help with donations toward meeting immediate needs or with leads to possible host families, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you! / J.D.
The world has known divisions for as long as history can remember. From
strength that overrides others to the weakness that attracts marauding gangs
of men of ambition and cunning. Adventure has led some into what they
termed “discoveries” of Rivers and their sources, of Mountains high and
majestic, and a people so different in their cultural environments, that to
the eye of a visitor, they appeared other worldly.
The world has never run short of divisive tools and terms to keep one for
each. From the irony of heights and weights, to the delight’s and
indecency of dark humor based on foods and drinks and a people’s culture.
GOD and god’s have their roles and stamps on a people’s interpretations,
raging from waging wars to convert and dominate, to whole sale massacres
because others beliefs were less acceptable to a deity followed by a
muscular power. In the name of many known Faiths , man has suffered
immensely and continue to suffer even under the full glare of a world that
is so connected, that nothing escapes the owl eyed social Media/internet
never sleeping eyes.
If it’s not belief it’s something else that pits one man to another. Color
has played the worst card in segregation of humanity. Regimes are known to
have come up with a cultic panacea of annihilating all who were less than
their proscribed hue, height and eye color in a so called super race.
Commerce has not particularly done well to hide i’s dismal take on the
lesser endowed in terms of what the world considers GDP….Countries are
graded into first, second and third world. Countries comprise individual
human beings. Once categorized in numerical terms, they cease to have a
human quality and adopt a statistical stature.
Dehumanizing poverty by demonizing it and those suffering
the “pauper malady”. Terms like ” those who survive under
a dollar a day. A people labelled by lack. Another labelled by luck.
Then came weaponry and sophistication. Guns and canned Carnage. Bombs
as heroism spoke to the Sky over Nagasaki and Hiroshima. More divisions
follow. Giants with cold threats lying under silos of frozen homes awaiting
disagreements. What a time of it the world had! But like all eras, this too
came to an end with trumpets of fragmentation scattering the deadly
embers of stored caches of annihilation finding its ways into eager
markets of rogue juvenile quarters ready to tussle for positions of
“global respect” through “fire power”
Ideology made no sense. Religion was cowed. No one was immune to the future
that loomed on the human collective heads as each goon state thumped it’s
How times change!
A new baby was born in the East. A baby with an attitude like a thief.
Escaping its parents unloving gloved hands, it flew first into the
neighborhood, dropping its ghastly feaces on the heads of its makers kin. Death. Sinister death. The wind took the birdling over the boarder, across
the oceans on the comforts of cruise ships. And luxury living became a
nightmare. Right now, quarantine is not for rabid dogs or leppers in their
It’s what no longer divides that divides us. What irony! We are faced by an
enemy of our own intellect taken over concious. Our own intelligence
exceeding common sense. Our own genius gone insane.
In it all, regardless of mitigation measures,one thing speaks a human
language. It’s no longer about class, color or Creed. it’s not even about
ideology or theology. It’s about being careful to survive the monster we
have made. And the world suddenly speaks “humanese”
How I wish we didn’t have to face such an ugly and tragic catastrophe to bring us to the realization of the folly of excessive greed in pursuit of glory and power over others.
If we survive, we may have to analyze our engagement with dark matters that
that put life at risk. If we don’t, we are to blame for our end.
For now, let’s keep hygienic, keep to ourselves, bury our Dead, care for the
dying and think of how we have arrived at where we are.
While at it, let’s pray. For regardless of our form of worship, days of
worship, mode of worship and the dress code in worship, we all pray to a
Higher power. He may yet hear our prayers and led a hand.
YOU SEE, praying I personal and communal if you will. Worship places are
closing fast, if not faster than bars and deli’s. Offices are closing fast,
if not faster than schools.
Only true saints are at work. Those medics and their assistants and the
guys who must fill the supermarket shelves with your basics.
If you ask me, the very deity we seek in those buildings, is inside us and
those selfless humans who take chances with their lives to take charge of
ours. They are the ones mellowing down the iron wind of a viral onslaught
on humanity right now.
MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of The BeZine core team. He is a poet from Zimbabwe who is on the run. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor. In part I am doing this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany, but England or U.S. would work too. Open to suggestion. Connect with me if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.
On Wednesday, May 4, Danez Smith perform for this Festival from their latest poetry collection, Homie, sharing their perspectives on seeking joy, intimacy, acceptance and safety from discriminatory violence in America. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective, an assemblage of poets and performers of color with a mission to amplify spoken word artists who explore race, religion, gender, queerness, hip-hop culture, and radical truth-telling in their art. After the performance they will talk about the potential of their art to celebrate race, the body, and identity politics.
Among the other Festival poets are: Mahogany L. Browne, Roya Marsh, Porsha Olayiwola, Jamilia Woods, Abdulla Pashew, Oksana Zabuzhko, Ben Okri, and Tatiana Voltskaya.
PEN America shares the highlights of its 16th Edition of the United States’ Leading International Literary Festival, bookended by an opening night event featuring Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, and Jia Tolentino in Conversation with Rebecca Traister and a closing performance by Jon Batiste, Suleika Jaouad, Zadie Smith and Tara Westover
Acclaimed authors, writers and poets Including Andrés Barba, Ishmael Beah, Mahogany L. Browne, Lydia Davis, Amitav Ghosh, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Hunter Harris, Jeremy O. Harris, Yuri Herrera, Jill Lepore, Sara Mesa, Lynn Nottage, Ben Okri, Elif Shafak, Jenny Slate, Danez Smith, Brandon Taylor, David Treuer, Jeanette Winterson, Jamila Woods, and other participants in venues around New York.
PEN America presents the 2020PEN World Voices Festival: These Truths, celebrating literature’s deep illumination of cultural, historical, political, and emotional truths in a complex moment when “truth” is destabilized by the constant undermining of a common set of facts, “objective” histories are being interrogated and upended, and radical candor about lived experiences is fueling powerful social movements. This festival brings together fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, translators, thinkers, and activists for an array of conversations, interviews, readings, and musical performances on this infinitely prismatic subject.
Chip Rolley, Director of the PEN World Voices Festival and Senior Director of Literary Programs at PEN America, describes arriving at this year’s theme: “The crisis in truth in the American political sphere and a hallowed phrase from the U.S. Declaration of Independence were the jumping-off points for a festival that ultimately celebrates truth-telling on a wide range of topics and in myriad forms. We urgently need to hear the deeper truths afforded by literary fiction and by poetry, for literature to engage with contested histories and memory, and for journalists, historians and other non-fiction writers to present the world as it really is, to contest the fabrications served to us on an almost daily basis.”
PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel says, “At a moment when we can rely on government officials neither to tell nor to face the truth, citizens must step into the breach. Truth-tellers such as investigative journalists, the courageous women behind the #MeToo movement, and the risk-everything whistleblowers attesting to government wrongdoing are driving the discourse while facing unrelenting attacks. Against this norm-defying backdrop, PEN America is proud to convene some of the world’s most transformative writers and thinkers in a show of force on behalf of complexity, facts, and veracity.”
On May 4th, soul-singer, song-writer, poet and recording artist behind LEGACY! LEGACY!, an album that draws inspiration from James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, and other great authors, Jamila Woodswill will present at this Festival. Jamila’s work focuses on themes of Black ancestry, Black feminism, and Black identity, with recurring emphases on self-love and the City of Chicago. After her performance at the Festival, she will talk about the potential of art to celebrate race, the body, and identity politics, offering a message of self-love and healing justice.
The 2020 PEN World Voices Festival opens May 4 with three compelling truth-tellers—Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, and Jia Tolentino—speaking with Rebecca Traister at The Town Hall about how women’s lives have been shaped by historical forces, religious and political dogma, today’s resurgent misogyny, and societal and personal gaslighting, that most cunning undermining of lived reality.
On May 6 at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The 1619 Project*, delivers the festival’s annual keynote address, the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, given in recent years by Arundhati Roy (2019) and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (2018). Hannah-Jones discusses her journalistic mission to reframe how we understand our nation, the legacy of slavery, and the unparalleled role Black people have played in U.S. democracy.
*The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia. It is an interactive project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for The New York Times, with contributions by the paper’s writers, including essays on the history of different aspects of contemporary American life which the authors believe have “roots in slavery and its aftermath.” It also includes poems, short fiction, and a photo essay. Originally conceived of as a special issue for August 20, 2019, it was soon turned into a full-fledged project, including a special broadsheet section in the newspaper, live events, and a multi-episode podcast series.
The New York Times has said that the contributions were deeply researched, and arguments verified by a team of fact-checkers in consultation with historians. Civil War historians Gordon S. Wood, James M. McPherson and Richard Carwardine are among many who have criticized the 1619 Project, stating that the project has put forward misleading and historically inaccurate claims.
Like Hannah-Jones, bestselling author David Treuer (The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee) offers a powerful counter-narrative to a monolithic history—in this case, rebutting conventional wisdom about Native American experience (May 5 at Brooklyn Historical Society). In an event entitled The Last Archive, on May 7 at Symphony Space, celebrated historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore (These Truths: A History of the United States) interrogates a question at the heart of this year’s festival: How do we find the truth in the age of Google and “alternative” facts? Amitav Ghosh, Terry Tempest Williams, Maja Lunde, and Emily Raboteaucome together May 9 at the AIA Center for Architecture to consider the role of the writer in a society that denies science and the everyday realities of extreme weather amidst impending apocalypse.
Other events underscore the truth-telling potential of the creative act. On May 6 at the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri discusses his latest book, The Freedom Artist, which imagines a society where the disappearance of books and diminishment of literacy have led to the creation of a dystopia devoid of truth. On the heels of her Netflix comedy special Stage Fright, Jenny Slate will speak with Vulture writer Hunter Harris about her unclassifiable, keenly personal book Little Weirds (May 6 at the New School). On May 7 at Center for Fiction, Turkish-British writer-activist Elif Shafak and literary critic and Literary Hub Executive Editor John Freeman explore how words themselves have been used to misrepresent and distort reality, and how they can be reclaimed. Also on May 7, at Symphony Space, playwrights Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play, Daddy, and Black Exhibition) and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage (Sweat, Ruined, and Intimate Apparel) discuss their impulse to expose uncomfortable, often hidden truths about race, class, and sexuality in American society.
PEN America President Jennifer Egan says, “A festival of writers, artists, and intellectuals affords a tonic opportunity to explore pressing topics from creative and unexpected angles. The offerings in “These Truths” include an evening melding dystopian fiction and West African music; a Russian queer poetry reading; and a cross-generational discussion between prominent Mexican novelists about how art can reclaim and subvert cultural stereotypes—to name just a smattering of auspicious events.”
This post is courtesy of Wikipedia, PEN America, Amazon, and The 1612 Project,
PEN Americastands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. The organization champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.