I am honoured that Childreach gave me the opportunity to write a guest blog post for them. My topic of choice was role play.
Powerful observations and analysis. I, for one, worry about biodiversity loss and think the metaphor of a “burning library of life” is a powerful, poignant and pithy description of what we are witnessing and countenancing.
From Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself:
I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
In the early 1970s, animal-inclined philosophers coined the term “speciesism” to describe the practice of regarding different species as having unequal moral value — with humans, of course, being most valuable of all. The word caught on, at least among people inclined to care about that sort…
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This was a very pleasant surprise. I have never been a “featured poet” before. I am honoured and humbled, too.
I am delighted to report that The Black Lion Journal will be publishing 3 of my poems in their next collection. The pieces, “Jeremiah’s Jeremiad,” “Tribunes” and “American promises” are all poems I wrote to address the current “American moment.” I am honoured that they will be featured and will post the link when they appear.
On April 5th, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy delivered this speech to the City Club of Cleveland, Ohio. While the speech may be fifty years old, it is as relevant as ever and worth a listen.
“For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.”
As you probably know, accusations have been made that Parkland High School shooting survivor David Hogg is a paid actor; that his eloquent and circumspect statements are simply too polished for a young man to make. While I find this accusation both ridiculous and odious, I think it is an admission of something profound.
There is an art to speaking well, particularly when speaking of tragedy. Pericles is remembered for his Funeral Oration and Abraham Lincoln for the Gettysburg Address, another funeral oration. Many observers believe that the most eloquent words ever spoken by Robert Kennedy were those made the night he told a crowd that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been murdered. Dr. King himself so moved the great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane by his eulogy for the 4 Birmingham girls killed in their Sunday school in September 1963 that it is believed that Coltrane timed this recording to the cadence and tropes of King’s eulogy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiJ_0gp-T9A
I think that these accusations against David Hogg -made by Alex Jones- are a tremendously important reminder of the power of rhetoric. Once rhetoric was not an epithet thrown at political speech, it was a subject devoted to the art of speaking well and clearly about civic life. I think it is a mark of the debasement of our political speech that when a young man comes along and speaks in the great rhetorical tradition which is the inheritance of us all, that he is accused of being an actor; that is, an artist.
He is an artist. Because he is resurrecting civic speech. He is an artist because he is talking within that great tradition of shared mourning.
Today is a great writing day.
I just learned that three of my poems are going to appear in Volume IV of The Blue Hour Anthology. This is thrilling for so many reasons but not least because the three they chose are all very close to my heart:
1 poem is about Detroit; 1 poem is about the Funk Brothers; 1 poem is dedicated to my father and how I have watched him provide loving care and undying loyalty to his mother who will be turning 100 this June.
And then I found out that over at The Blue Nib they are taking four more of my poems, including one I wrote about Charlottesville, two I wrote about Detroit, and one I wrote about mourning an abused horse.
Like I said, today has been a great writing day . . . and a great day overall. When the poems are available I will share links here.