Good morning, lovelies…
I am exhausted this morning from a fantastic family weekend so I’ll keep try to keep this short.
The very cool Jonathan Penton at Unlikely Stories was kind enough to accept this How To Be An American poem to add to what is a great collection for the May issue of Unlikely Stories. Please be sure to check out the rest of the issue. It’s chock full of goodness.
And I would also like to say thanks to Stephen Williams at Dead Snakes for taking these poems.
I’m a lucky girl.
Also the Forked Road has another THIS IS SARAH excerpt. The book is written in alternating viewpoints from Claire (Sarah’s little sister) and Colin’s (Sarah’s boyfriend).
You can read Colin’s piece here and you can the Claire one here if excerpts are your kind of thing.
And finally I know I said that this is going to a short post but I’ve got this thing nagging at me. I’ve received some rejections for poems lately for the How To Be An American series and both times I was called Anti-American. Before we go into this I feel the need to say the following:
DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NO PROBLEM BEING REJECTED. MY WHOLE WRITING CAREER IS 90% REJECTION, 10% PUBLICATION.
That part is really important to understand. I get that if you put stuff out there you’ll inevitably get most of it rejected. That’s fine. My thick skin is fully insulated. So it’s not about being rejected, okay? Understand? Good.
It’s about the notion that these poems are Anti-American or more so that to criticize our country = Anti-Americanism. I’m just curious when that happened? When did observing our failures (because we do have them) become akin to ignoring our successes? When did my acknowledging that there are places where we have seriously dropped the ball suddenly mean that I’m a communist (which I was called)?
This all seems particularly short-sighted.
This Sunday the New York Times had an article on adding trigger warnings to texts so that college kids can be prepared to deal with thing that make them uncomfortable.
At Oberlin College, a draft petition asked teachers to flag anything that might disrupt a students learning. This is from the NY Times article:
“Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,” the guide said. “Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” For example, it said, while “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe — a novel set in colonial-era Nigeria — is a “triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” it could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.”
Where do we go from here?
How do we possibly grew and fix society if we don’t face the ugly upsetting things head on? Isn’t the point of art and college to challenge us? To make us think?
Now, please don’t for a second thing that I think that just because I wrote a poem that might cast America in a poor light that I should automatically have it published because that would be nonsense. Editors have the right to publish whatever they want. I’m just curious about this notion that to criticize a nation is akin to being its enemy.
Did we really all take Bush’s “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” thing to heart?
Or as we so isolated, constantly hearing opinions that mirror our own that something outside of our experience shatters our delusions about the world we live in?
I write about this country because I want it to be better.
I want the kids that go to school to not worry about dying when they refuse a prom date.
I want parents to trust that when the drop off their kindergarten those babies will come home at the end of the day – alive and well and not in body bags.
In what universe is that wrong???
I want us to be better. And to be better we need to talk about where we fail. And isn’t that the purpose of art? Not to pad down all the ugly parts but to hold them up so that we can see the cracks in the glass. So that we can figure out how to seal them over again?
So that we can actually strive to be the country we’re currently pretending we are?
Sigh….Anyway….that’s enough out of me.
Be nice to each other, okay?
Peace, Love and Starbursts