Answering the Call
A couple of months ago I self-published a chapbook of poems called THE GRATING OF AMERICA, which I will be “showing off” at a California Writers Club meeting in January. This little booklet has 21 poems about our current so-called “Administration”, as well as eight political cartoons on the same subject by nationally syndicated Nick Anderson. I started writing these poems a few days after the man I call Drumpf was elected. The fact is that since that gruesome day, I have been almost unable to write poetry about anything else. As a poet friend said just yesterday, “It makes everything else seem small.”
A few of my poems were taken for publication, and of course I read them at workshops, and sent them off to poet friends and sometimes to my Facebook Friends list. After a while, I realized I had a small book full of poems, and that if I put them together, I would have an extra excuse to read them, and to encourage resistance or at least some sense of community. My readings of GRATING are somewhat unconventional; I take time to ask audiences what actions they have taken to counter the Drumpf destruction, that I could pass on. For example, at one reading, two people described pre-registering high school seventeen year old seniors, for which there is evidently a government form. Another time, a woman told of trying to maintain a good relationship with a pro-Drumpf cousin by helping her with a charity, rather than arguing. A third person talked about campaigning in 2018 for Democrats in the Central Valley.
I have already had a number of interesting experiences as a result of my chapbook. I read in a neighbor’s living room where we all got teary. I have read at a poet’s group where they claimed I was “criticizing” them, and said they “didn’t want to give Drumpf any more space in their brains than he already has”. I read at Texas A and M University, where two of the poems were republished, and saw a whole new part of America. I am going on the radio in Vallejo soon. People I have known for months or years tell me their experiences with this national emergency, and often end up telling me fascinating backgrounds I didn’t know.
But most of all THE GRATING OF AMERICA has given me an outlet for my frustrations and anxieties about what is happening to our beloved country. I feel I am able to counter a little the nastiness, violence and division fostered by this massively egotistical man.
And I can say, “This is like getting rid of slavery, or demanding rights for women. It’s going to take time, but do we really have a choice?” Do we?