Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Review of Odas a Futbolista by Yago S. Cura and Abel Folgar

Louse dream of buying themselves a wig, fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and I, (to use a term coined by Yago S. Cura) poor “fútbol cretin” turned poet still dream of playing a World Cup alongside fútbol’s biggest names.

 In Odas a FútbolistasYago S. Cura and Abel Folgar compose a cycle of humorous odes (with illustrations by Chaz Folgar and Martha Duran-Contreras) that pay tribute both to the sport’s greatest players and to the Wikipedia-age fan that recreates the dazzling virtuosity of those players through YouTube videos and yes, also, by writing celebratory odes. The writing of poetry is, after all, the closest one can get to playing true fútbol and playing fútbol is the closest one can get to writing true poetry.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Surviving Progress

I saw this film Surviving Progress. It reminds me of why I write. Why I write poetry, which has no real monetary value. Which will not earn me money, will not keep me or others dry from the rain. Will not make me or others eat better. Will not save me or others from progress.


Why do I write? Why do I fling myself against progress?


 In high school my English teacher played a documentary for us titled Berkeley in the 60s. I remember Mario Savio:

There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all. 

I imagined Mario Savio placing his little bones between the teeth of the gears of the great machine.


I imagined Mario cut to pieces, those violent pieces are like walls where the graffiti of love and tenderness endures.


I am laying down my poems in the teeth of the great machine of progress.


Sometimes poems have to be like Mario. Mario stuck his hands in the teeth of the great machine.


Sometimes hands get amputated, bitten off by the teeth of the great machine.


The hands died and their finger nails still grew.


"The arms they manufacture shall be turned against them
Their political systems shall be erased from the earth
and their political parties
shall exist no longer
The plans of their technicians shall serve for nothing
The great powers
                          are as the flowers of the field

                  are as smoke

All day long they spy upon us
Already they have the sentences prepared
yet will the Lord not deliver us to their police
he will not allow us to be condemned at the Judgement
I saw the dictator's picture everywhere
                                   --it spread itself like a green
                                          bay tree--
and I turned to pass again
                                      and it was no longer
I searched for it and found it not
I searched for it and now there was not any picture
and his name could not be spoken"

Ernesto Cardenal


Lord the gilded boars are sodomizing me. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Undocumented Poem # 9

We cannot depend on any political party, for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence. We all recognize the fact that if any radical social, political and economic changes are to take place in our society, the people, the masses, must bring them about.— Representative John Lewis, 1963
I say again, I'm not anti-Democrat, I'm not anti-Republican, I'm not anti-anything. I'm just questioning their sincerity, and some of the strategy that they've been using on our people by promising them promises that they don't intend to keep. When you keep the Democrats in power, you're keeping the Dixiecrats in power. I doubt that my good Brother Lomax will deny that. A vote for a Democrat is a vote for a Dixiecrat. That's why, in 1964, it's time now for you and me to become more politically mature and realize what the ballot is for; what we're supposed to get when we cast a ballot; and that if we don't cast a ballot, it's going to end up in a situation where we're going to have to cast a bullet. It's either a ballot or a bullet.—Malcolm X
no se necesitan balas para probar un punto
es logico no se puede hablar con un difunto
el dialogo destruye cualkier situacion macabra
antes de usar balas disparo con palabras—Calle 13
This year will mark the second time in my life that I am old enough to vote in a presidential election. The first time was 2008. I did not vote. This year, I will not vote. Not being a U.S. citizen I am not eligible to engage in this symbolic act of democracy.

I am a poet. I am not an activist. I could never rightfully call myself an activist.


Marco Saavedra and Viridiana Martinez are undocumented students and DREAM activists.

Saavedra grew up in NY City after having arrived from Mexico in 1993. On July 11, risking deportation, Saavedra and Viridiana Martinez infiltrated the Broward Transitional Center in Florida—a detention and deportation center, owned and operated for ICE by GEO group; “the world’s leading provider of correctional detention” with facilities in the U.S., U.k., Australia and South Africa—in order to organize and bring awareness to those facing deportation and incarceration in such facilities. People like:

Claudio Rojas, originally from Argentina, and who was detained by Border Patrol agents after having picked up his son and accidently driving into the Ft. Lauderdale port, in Florida. He is now in a hunger strike.

or Anibal Hernandez, from Mexico, and whose children have—in the absence of his father—been reduced to live a hand to mouth existence, where what is eaten one day maybe needed the next.


I am not a poet. I could never rightfully call myself a poet.

Marco, Viridiana, Claudio, Anibal are poets whose primary concern is life.
 Poetry, when it works—when it is real poetry—IS life.

Anything else is irrelevant.

they slash poetry from her roots
she learns to walk without having roots

even from the desert they kill her
she walks the desert still

they deported her from her tongue
she learned to speak their tongue

bendita sea la mano 
que le corta la lengua a la poesia

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aztecaso: What the U.S. win over Mexico means

This week I’ve been thinking fútbol. As I write this I wait to board a flight back to Notre Dame and remember how playing that sport got me through a tough first semester there. I remember nights over at Stephan field playing that game with Brazilians, Nigerians, Arabs, Peruvians… .The closest I’ll get to playing in a World Cup.  

Before I became a poet playing soccer was and still is the only thing I want to do, playing that sport is the closest I’ll ever get to writing poetry. How many poems have I written on a soccer pitch?

Last Wednesday Mexico lost to the U.S. and my heart became the ball, juggled, kicked from post to post. U.S.A. 1-Mexico 0 read the score over the Azteca stadium, that Mexican fortress never before breached by a U.S. team.

In fact in almost a century of play by the two nations the U.S. had never beaten Mexico in Mexico and with more than 110 games played at the Azteca, Mexico had lost no less than ten. The U.S. was facing a Mexico like no other: finishing 3rd in the U20 World Cup, having won two U17 World Cups, beaten the U.S. 5-0 and 4-2 in consecutive Gold Cup finals, and of course beaten Brazil for the Olympic gold medal made Mexico not only undisputed favorites to win the game but the undisputed king of CONCACAF (one of six confederations competing for three of thirty-two places in the World Cup). 

Orozco Fiscal’s goal against Mexico symbolizes U.S. soccer’s breaching of the gap that once existed between these two countries. But what does this historic win mean for Mexico, for the U.S and most importantly for CONCACAF (perhaps one of the weakest of the six confederations)?

Mexico, do you too find it cruel that at the Azteca the grass on the pitch keeps growing without any one to cheer it on?

Mexico, watching you beat Brazil for the Olympic gold was like reading Neruda for the first time. And it reminded me that there is hope for you and your 60,000 civilian deaths in a senseless war on drugs, a war fueled by your savage inequalities and the U.S.’s insatiable thirst for drugs.

There is not denying Mexican soccer is ahead of the U.S. But the U.S. has something Mexico might never have: diversity and the success that might come with it: Jozzy Altidore is of Haitian heritage, Oguchi Onyewu of Nigerian parents, Benny Feilhaber is Brazilian-born, Joe Corona of Salvadoran heritage and not to mention the many Mexican-Americans in the team. Orozco Fiscal—the man who executed Mexico at the Azteca is one of them. In due time the U.S. could very well emulate nations like France and Germany and be considered real contenders for the World Cup, Mexico with this new generation of talent might very well be a contender at Brazil 2014. This not only makes for an interesting rivalry but it is one of the few points of friction within CONCACAF that have kept Mexico and the U.S. as the only real competitors on the international stage.

And yet to reduce this match to a simple rivalry would fail to capture the socioeconomic complexities that exist not only between these two nations but more importantly between the West and the global south.  I remember once making comment that for nations like Mexico to win a WC would represent a tangible sign of progress. Obviously my comment was met with disdain as someone quickly remarked that real progress is a measurement of economic growth. That person was right.

The world of international soccer is not unlike that of the global economy. An event like the WC requires an incredible—and often unjust— allocation of public and natural resources under the assumption that such models of development can be sustained despite the planet’s finite resources. If at the current rate of development the world, the developed and rapidly developing nations, are already using an extravagant and unsustainable amount of natural resources, how many more earths would it require to “bring people out of poverty,” and to stimulate “economic growth” in the underdeveloped world?

Despite the fact that the growth model that emerged since the start of the Industrial Revolution is unsustainable, Western industrial economies hold fast to this model and push the global south to adopt such forms of development. Despite the fact that such system is not designed for the very poor of this planet and in fact thrives because of their economic and social woes. The global south bleeds so that the West can grow fat, simple as that.

. And yet an important win in that competition would bring the people of the global south one of the only few sustainable resources on this planet: happiness and a real sense of dignity.

Monday, July 9, 2012

An Interview with Javier O. Huerta


“I am going to the grocery store.” That was the line poet Javier O. Huerta was asked to write during his citizenship interview process. That simple line, years later, would become American Copia: An Immigrant Epic, Huerta’s second collection of poems. Using a vignette form, a play, and even text messages, Huerta weaves together a poetic narrative that breaks the illusion that we live in a land of bountiful substance. Here, a mere trip to the grocery store unveils the political, cultural and economic nuances hidden away between the aisles of our supermarkets. 
From the interview:

[Continue Reading.]

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Mix What I Like: Why I was rooting for France yesterday: (Who remember the 2006 youth protests in France?)

Yesterday was the UEFA Eurocup quarterfinal match between World Champions Spain and underdog France in a game that was dominated by a Spanish win of two nil. The Spanish with their tiki-taka style of football played beautifully and won rightly so. In a sport that more often than not punishes losing by stifling creativity, Spain’s marriage of beauty and efficiency is a visual gem and reminds me why this game is closer to a choreographed war-dance than the multi-billion dollar industry it has become.

Back in 1998 when the French crowned themselves World Champions I was ten years old—it is the first World Cup I remember watching. That winning team was not only memorable for it success on the pitch but also for the many ethnic minorities which were part of that team: Bernard Lama of French Guinean descent, Patrick Vieira of Senegalese descent, Marcel Desailly of Ghanaian birth and origin, Youri Djorkaeff of Kalmyk and Armenian descent, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Bernard Diomede of Antillean descent, Christian Karembeu a native of New Caledonia, David Trezeguet of Argentinean descent and of course Zinedine Zidane—the son of Algerians and a ballerina with  Pointe shoes for soccer cleats. In my heart that winning French team stands in diametrical opposition not only to the sterility of money-driven soccer but also to the ugliness of fascism, right-wing extremism and racism that has hijacked the sport and European society. In Europe’s temples to that sport it is not uncommon to see Nazi flags and fascist salutes; monkey chants and bananas are regularly hurled at African and Latin American players from the stands. Days prior to the opening of the Eeurocup –held in Poland and Eukraine—Sol Campbell, ex Arsenal and England national team footballer, warned fans against attending: “Stay home and watch it on t.v. Don’t run risks or you might come back in a coffin.”

In 2006, at the World Cup final between Italy and France, French football legend Zinedine Zinade delivered a jackhammer of a butthead to Italian defender’s Marco Materazzi’s chest. We all know what happened next. But who today remembers the fires that had recently been put out in France while Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry—that “black shit” as the coach of the Spanish team, Luis Aragones, had called the French player—and company battled the armor-plated catenaccio? French youth—most of them the unemployed sons and daughters of immigrants—had taken to the streets of France to protest the controversial bill, ironically entitled "Loi pour l'égalité des chances" ("Equal Opportunity Law"), a bill that would have made it easier for employers to fire worker under 26 years of age during the first two years of employment therefore compromising job security and impeding employees from legal recourse in case of sexual or racial discrimination.

But back to soccer….

On the eve of that infamous final far right French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen proclaimed that France didn't recognize itself in its players because they were almost all black and because its captain, that Arab, didn't sing the national anthem. The vice president of the Italian Senate, Roberto Calderoli, echoed this, stating that the French team was made up of Negroes, Islamists, and Communists who preferred the Internationale to the Marseillaise and Mecca to Belen.

But back to soccer….

 No less than one hundred years ago Europe dismembered Africa, the Antilles—the Global South for that matter—to quench its hunger for human flesh and natural resources, a cannibalism that has led to the accumulation of wealth and economic prosperity that has maintained Europe at the helm of power, perhaps only second to the United States.

But back to soccer…

Today the sons of those born from the throes of European colonialism, those offspring of blood and fire, are some of the best players in the sport, who every now and then commit the crime of marrying a capricious ball to their feet and take her for a dance. Many of them have given Europe not only its economic wealth but also some of the biggest trophies in the history of human sport and for that they are received with sneering and howling.

 But back to soccer…that today England battles the catenaccio…. 

....Z..z z z

Monday, May 28, 2012

Undocumented Poem #7

Lucio Cabañas:

Lucio Cabañas Barrientos (December 12, 1938 – December 2, 1974) was a Mexican schoolteacher who became a revolutionary, albeit not a Marxist one. Cabañas regarded Emiliano Zapata as his role model and he never abandoned his Christian faith, as can be seen in Gerardo Tort's film documentary on him.

When a rector of Juan Álvarez school in Atoyac demanded that all pupils wear school uniforms, Cabañas argued that some families were so poor they could hardly feed their children, not to mention buy school uniforms. The rector was fired but his supporters remained. When a May 18, 1967 strike action ended in shooting and deaths, Cabañas fled to the mountains and joined the group of Genaro Vázquez Rojas until Vázquez' death on February 2, 1972.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5.56 NATO @ Paragraphiti

Dishboy @ Paragraphity


sweet sultry downpour

crushed hibiscus/ rainflower 

sprinkled in the ear

[Continue Reading]

With artwork by Predom Tanaomi

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Mix What I Like: A Review of “The Avengers”

"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."—Francis Fukuyama

With the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, capitalism’s prophets were quick to sound the trumpet of victory. Francis Fukuyama quickly decreed an end to history and the establishment of “Western liberal democracy,” or rather the birth of neoliberalism—that insatiable beast, all claws and fangs—as the apogee of human development. That description of the world and its history, a history temporarily detained by the triumph of capitalism, was and still is somber and sterile and corresponds to a society without debates or ideas, without answers to questions and challenges that are in urgent need of solving. But what does the triumph of “free-market neoliberalism” have to do with Marvel’s The Avengers?

Somewhere along the way I’ve heard that it is easier to imagine the end of the world, than an end to capitalism. To imagine the end of capitalism would imply to imagine an alternative to a socio-economic form of development that requires infinite economic-growth while depleting finite resources and which results in human and environmental destruction. Capitalism is an animal that feeds on blood and oil alike; feeding it is an insatiable problem. It will eventually succumb to hunger. And in the meantime while half of Europe is on the verge of collapse and the planet continues its spiral fall into environmental catastrophe, Marvel’s The Avengers presents us with a now too seductive and familiar scenario: an apocalyptic attack on Manhattan that threatens to destroy the world as we know it. But the market’s invisible hand is a wizard of ingenuity that in a heartbeat can concoct the next gadget-wielding one-percenter savior of the earth, Stark Industries’ playboy Iron Man. Even Thomas Friedman himself could not have come up with a better savior for a system of economic development that is in serious need of saving.  

From an analytical point-of-view The Avengers is an extension of neoliberal thought which extends itself like a mantle of lead that seeks to silence those voices demanding answers and alternatives to a model of economic development that has sunk the world into crisis.

On the other hand the Hulk still kicks ass. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Undocumented Poem #4: A Response to this Photo:

The Poem:

Incident by Amiri Baraka


He came back and shot. He shot him. When he came
back, he shot, and he fell, stumbling, past the
shadow wood, down, shot, dying, dead, to full halt.

At the bottom, bleeding, shot dead. He died then, there
after the fall, the speeding bullet, tore his face
and blood sprayed fine over the killer and the grey light.

Pictures of the dead man, are everywhere. And his spirit
sucks up the light. But he died in darkness darker than
his soul and everything tumbled blindly with him dying

down the stairs.

We have no word

on the killer, except he came back, from somewhere
to do what he did. And shot only once into his victim's
stare, and left him quickly when the blood ran out. We know

the killer was skillful, quick and silent, and that the victim
probably knew him. Other than that, aside from the caked sourness
of the dead man's expression, and the cool surprise in the fixture

of his hands and fingers, we know nothing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Interview with Sarah Menefee.

Sarah Menefee is most recently the author of Human Star. Her other books include I'm Not Thousandfurs and The Blood About the Heart. A long-time activist in the homeless movement, she is also a founding and active member of San Francisco’s Revolutionary Poets Brigade and can be found leading workshops among the occupiers of Occupy San Francisco.

This interview was conducted via email, slowly, after many weeks of joyous anticipation.

Grandma for poetry: In these reactionary times, what gives a poet hope? Can poetry “occupy” our world or is the occupation of poetry something that happens only for the poet?

Sarah Menefee: Poetry doesn't change things, but it does change people, allowing them to bring out what they know but otherwise can't reach. Poetry has always been a natural way to do this, throughout human history. It reaches into the universe of song, which has always been used to express the joy and solidarity of people's being-together and their struggles. Like all true and living culture, it comes from the bottom, and though individual poets write out of their unique vision, it truly is a people's art. Through poetry the poet can more intently hear the voices of others. For me, that means being tuned in to and intensely inspired by the so-called 'voiceless' (who are anything but that!). I especially love to work with people who don't think of themselves as writers, but write or otherwise express themselves out of a burning need to do so and having something urgent to say. I started a little writing group at Occupy San Francisco, attended by the mostly young and mostly homeless protesters who are key to keeping the movement going here. It's hard to get them to find the time to sit down and write, but when they do the results are brilliant and beautiful. I believe it's truer than ever that 'without vision the people perish'. Many poets have also been revolutionaries, some organizers, even revolutionary fighters. I believe that their poetry helped bring them to that point, and then was there to express the deepest meaning of their lives and actions, even if they put the writing of it aside for a time (or even forever) to do those other necessary things. Once a poet… 
When and how did you begin to marry the socio-political consciousness of the activist with the creative-consciousness of the poet?
I began writing poetry very young. The first poem I set out to consciously write, about age 9, was on the 'five emotions' (the poem is long gone, so don't remember what those five were). I've been hooked on this ever since, a process that sharpened my inner senses and also took me into a different quality of time, a very intensified state, where language and its rhythms and images were moving me, as music moves a dancer. (When someone asked Cocteau who his heroes were, he answered 'emotions'). I naturally tended to write about the things I saw around me, and my experiences as a girl and woman, a low-wage worker (in hospitals, casinos and in retail); as the wife of a traveling gambler and a stepmother to a young child; a person on this planet, someone who had been taught to be a 'bleeding heart', in horror of specifically the Vietnam War and the oppression and racism, I early on became aware of around me, and the social upheavals and liberation struggles all around – all of this shaped me. I was viscerally rebellious but not political. By the time I was in my late 30s, I was in a kind of despair, because I knew there was something I needed to understand about my life and the world around me that nothing was providing. I'm a prime example of the reality that political education needs to be introduced from outside, we don't spontaneously come to it (just to the brink of it with our questions and need). I heard somewhere that Neruda was brought to the communist movement by a woman. I was politicized by the great poet Jack Hirschman, who was in the Communist Labor Party (which re-formed as the non-Party League of Revolutionaries for a New America in 1993, to reflect the reality that an objective revolution was beginning in the US). What I learned was a revelation that explained so much that matched my experience and feelings. Because at the time I was beginning to reflect in my poems the appearance of the homeless on the streets I was assigned to work in the homeless movement, which was just kicking off. We understood early on what this represented, the formation of a new class, or proletariat, being pushed outside capitalist relations and directly against the state; this rang true to my deepest intuition and sympathies. I hit the streets and organized a SF local of the new National Union of the Homeless, which was the first homeless-run action group in the City; after that was a founding member of Homes Not Jails (the first housing takeovers), worked with Food Not Bombs (was taken to court for sharing food ‘without a permit), and now am active in the Occupy movement here. I am also a founding and active member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade. My poetry, in conjunction with finding a revolutionary collective, led me to this work, and the work itself, and especially the people I got to know and love through it, have had the most profound influence on my poetics. The poems I like the best are those that don’t in a sense belong to me, but I borrow (hearing and seeing) from this revolutionary class of my fellows on this suffering planet, which is also our paradise.  
What is it about poetry that can so easily lend itself to solidarity and struggle?
I think the important things about a poet's childhood is that it is alive and remembered, that the intense playful curiosity remains alive, that it hasn't been altogether snuffed out by conditioning and mis-education. Often people who have had their imaginations discouraged by social conditioning can lose at least conscious touch with that part of themselves, so their capacity to see the magic reality of life itself is suppressed. With that goes at least a certain amount of the ability to imagine oneself in another's place. This is to the advantage of the rulers of a system that oppresses and fosters inequality and suffering, especially by dividing people from each other based on fear and hate. Any person, not just poets, whose natural sympathies are still alive will naturally object to this system and care about what it does, not just to ourselves but to our fellows (and other life forms, the planet itself). Poetry has the unique capacity to distill these feelings, this sympathy, solidarity. It also allows the poet to tap into the joy of life that arises naturally in all living things, which unifies us in love and brother and sisterhood. Anyone not blind can see this joy in a baby or child’s eyes, and hear it in the expressions of their imagination. I see that I use the word ‘imagination’ here a lot. By this I mean the kind of clear-seeing that is done also with the heart. The open-heartedness and the ability to reach into that primal joy, wishing it for all beings, helps us hold on to the vision of a transformed world we struggle together to bring into being. Poetry can be a great expression of this, an ecstatic one, where the outcome is seen and celebrated in the process of the struggle (or the rehearsal of the poem) itself. 
Your work is so firmly grounded in the image that I am compelled to ask what is the role of painting/ the visual arts in your work?

I painted [oils] for about twenty years, from an early age. I studied painting in college, and was very passionate about it, painted obsessively. I was writing poetry all that time, but considered myself a painter and expected to follow that. After I married and started traveling around, it was no longer practical to do the art. Also, I wasn't able to fully express all the things I wanted to through that medium, I knew what my vision was and couldn't quite reach it, my ability fell short. Yet struggling with it gave me some of the most ecstatic moments of my existence. Yes, I am very centered in the visual, as you astutely remark. I sometimes feel that I'm trying to do with words what I desired to do with drawing and painting. Language gives a shorthand and the reader visualizes. There is something iconic about my poetry I think, often a figure against a background that stands for much that's unsaid. That figure is usually of someone who has been stripped of everything, ‘homeless’, existentially naked, the new arising ‘figure’, the essential human (or you could express that as the new proletariat –  the objective revolutionary). This figure/reality haunts and obsesses me and my poetry. When I think about writing something else I look up and see him or her, know through my politic – but not in some separate way – who that is (it’s us) - and know there’s my poem. It’s an acutely visual thing, an esthetic thing too, because I see the beauty of all the levels of that being, the overwhelming beauty of the world exactly as it is, the paradise and the material utopia already contained in existence, we are creatively struggling toward: the visionary as clear-seeing (‘prophetic’). The voice that’s heard in the poem is both mine and the other’s – I don’t feel a separation. 

And what of everyday speech? In your work you often summon the speech/ the music of the everyday and turn it into a music to out-sing the noises of oppression.
 I so much love the liveness and rhythms and truths of the language where it's most alive, unmediated, rude, irreverent, loving, elevated, ground-level, fed by the many expressions and languages and slangs and dialects of our many people - where it’s used to subvert the assumptions and can’t of privilege with its humor and talk-back. I love the voice of Anonymous (in the old sense of that), that great inspired genius! It is a mix of the people's wit gathered from everywhere, always singing if you keep your ears tuned to it. Other poets, comrade poets, poets I know, living and dead. Old songs, rhythm and blues. Nursury rhymes. Aesop’s fables. Jokes. Seeing, hearing. Natural spoken syntaxes and rhythms. Certain sights and sounds trigger something and start to form a poem inside of me. I think those voices always out-sing the noises of oppression and commodification (which are so ugly and discordant and dimensionless, they shut down the heart and soul and the living mind). I consider all poetry love poetry, heart-to-heart connection to whatever I’m writing about, or my opening to the voice of the universe and its residents. I’ve written so much about war and suffering, especially in the past ten years, but also before that, so that’s a very different kind of love poem. Perhaps more in sympathy with the innocent victims (and we’re all that in a way) than a dialectical exposure of the systems of privilege and power that cause an overwhelming amount of the suffering, the capitalist system of profit-making and exploitation, the merchants of hunger and war. I recognize that this is a limitation in my poetry. I guess my politic is more assumed than explicated in many of my poems, just by what I put in and what I leave out, so to speak – what I’m wrapped up in and what I care less about. A stripping away more than a saying, sometimes. The role of the silences between the words, the faith that anyone with a heart can grasp how deep the simple things go, down to the bottom of existence. 

You describe your activism both in the Occupy Movement and in the Homeless Movement as the writing of one collective poem. I love this. Activism as language-material, language as action-material. In this context, where do you see poetry going next? Must we move toward a more performance-based poetry, a poetry of activism beyond the confinement of the page?

Now that this movement has come into being I'm writing less because I feel that I'm living inside a great living poem, each of us a syllable of it, so being part of that is giving me a lot of the exileration that writing poetry normally does (or being in love). This is the spirit I’m finding down at ‘Occupy’, especially among the brave, noble and so expressive and irrepressible - mostly ‘homeless’ - occupiers, many of whom are writers, artists, musicians, poets, fire dancers, magicians, and dialectical thinkers and debaters – all struggling to form the seed of a new way of being, based on cooperation and mutal aid, out there in the naked street, as the police take everything they need to live and stay warm and shelter themselves from the rain. I’m just happy to be a small part of this right now. As a practicising revolutionary, needing to pass on some things that were taught to me, and as part of the human family – and yes as a poet, of course.  

As for how poetry will be created and communicated in the future, I think it’s going to be openly and freely shared through the connected and social media, as well as face to face wherever we gather. We can also self-publish – as I do in a very small way, with computer & printer – or publish each other, do magazines & zines, tabloids, etc – that’s in full swing and I don’t think it’s going to stop, I think it’ll be done more and more outside the publishing houses and the money economy, at least till the economy itself is radically transformed. Some of us are still ‘on the page’ – and I think that will continue in some form or other (just judging by how many people I see with journals and pens, writing away – even people who have almost no other possessions). But I do think that’ll be only one element in a many-dimensional practice of poetic expression that involves new forms I can’t even dream of. There’s been a great revolutionizing of poetry, an evolution and a restoration of its common root with song, music, dance, etc,and with revolutionary struggle and politics, in the last several decades. Hip-hop, spoken word and performance are global languages of resistence and positive struggle, one of the most profound and universal cultural revolutions ever – the passionate voices of the younger generations who see they have no stake in this dying order, and powerful visions of a transformed future. Where all can be the poets we all are, however we practice it.