And, in the spirit of my practice of feeling proud, I’ll just leave that honor there, without dismissal. What happens next? Life goes on.
What would success look like for a political poet? Like publication? Like winning an award? Those are great accomplishments, but in the grand scheme of trying to make an impact on social issues, it can feel like there’s still much more to be done. Sometimes, I feel restless trying to sit with the joy of good things, even the best of things, while outside of the bubble of my poetry world, life goes on.
Yesterday brought an example of this dilemma. I was at home, delighted about the publication of three of my poems in the online journal aaduna, when I heard a commotion outside. I looked out my window, and for the next couple of hours, I witnessed a mob of police officers aggressively pursuing and arresting a man of color.
With what I know about the alarming rates at which people of color are being incarcerated, and about the school-to-prison pipeline making their incarceration inevitable, I knew I was seeing just a small piece of a much larger, completely disheartening puzzle. And suddenly, publishing a poem called “Emmett Till Cry” didn’t feel like something to rejoice about. I feel grateful for the publication, sure, for the sake of fostering conversations about systematic violence against black boys and men. But it’s hard to celebrate, knowing that this scene will repeat itself again and again. Knowing that life goes on.
I bring up this example because I need your help in getting this poem published. It was one of three poems I performed to win The Lit Slam in August (remember that? that was fun). That means it'll appear in Tandem Volume 2, along with such luminaries as Saeed Jones, Sam Sax, and Daphne Gottlieb. I’m just beside myself with the honor of being published alongside these poets, who all create work that touches on some of the most pressing issues of our time. For me, this is not just about the success of publication – it’s about the importance of these words and the conversations they create as life goes on.
So, I humbly ask you to pre-order your copy of Tandem Vol. 2 now by backing The Lit Slam’s Kickstarter campaign, helping to bring this incredible collection to bookshelves all over the country.