March 21, 2010 10:20 am EST
I have been awake since 8:00 a.m. This morning I added more links to the blog: Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, and the Kundiman Asian American Poetry site. I went outside for a few minutes and found that it is very cold outside. I saw one, bright red cardinal sitting amidst the bare branches of a tree...a sign that spring is coming.
On Friday, I was able to find a contact phone number of friends of mine that I haven't seen since 2005. It was nice to hear that they have continued working on their art. The husband, who is an M.D. and poet, has gone into abstract painting. The wife, who is an educator and poet, is coming out with a new book of poetry and a poetry cd. In hindsight, it was good to talk about what has taken place in our lives in the past five years. As poets and artists, we have managed to still create despite our busy schedules.
On Thursday, March 18th, I visited with my mother, who has managed to stay alive through a series of illnesses, despite the death sentence given by doctors last month. After visiting with Mom, I went to U of M-Dearborn to sit on the "Inspiring Hope, Inspiring Change" panel that included Gerry Barrons of the Veteran Feminists of America; Minsu Longiaru, a lawyer and community organizer for Restaurant Opportunities Center; and Marion Kramer of the National Welfare Rights Union. Lolita Hernandez, Labor activist and author was the Moderator. Marion is also on the US Social Forum Coordinating Committee. It was so inspiring to hear the histories of what inspired us to be actvists. The event was a success! We had a chance to tell the audience about our lives, the work we have done from past to present, and had a Q & A session with the audience. I felt uplifted and inspired by listening to each speaker. By being included on an intergenerational panel, I was able to draw strength from women that represented past, current and future dedication to social activism. The audience of students and folks from the community were able to share their views and expressed wanting to get involved in community work. I shared the poem that I wrote for last Sunday's US Social Forum event at Central United Methodist Church, titled "Perhaps". The poem is more of a prose poem that illustrates the conditions that citizens of Detroit are facing, some of the generational history of activism that has taken place by those involved in community work, and the fact that we still have HOPE in Detroit, which is in opposition to what Minsu was told by others before she came here as an organizer. During Minsu's presentation, she pointed out that people questioned why she would even come to Detroit to organize...basically, the picture that was drawn for her was one of hopelessness, which of course is not true. The City Of Detroit is full of hope. The fact that Detroit has a history of activism is one of the reasons why the US Social Forum is coming in June...folks are hopeful that another world is possible!
I imagine that when anything good and positive that goes on in Detroit by it's citizens and community workers are put on the backseat or is subjugated by most sources of local and national media, and those who profit monetarily or by recognition by exploiting the condition of the city and its citizens, one would have a hopeless picture. In the late 1990's, after "graduating" as a Cultural Ambassador from New Detroit's first Multicultural Immersion classes, I made a commitment to talk about the good things that happen in Detroit. As a poet-educator, even though many of my poems address harsh realities from a broad perspective of African American and Filipino life, by writing the poems I hoped and still hope that they will inspire readers and listeners to become active in changing or transforming their own lives as well as the lives of others. I (re)member now, as I write, that when I was a Sociology student at Wayne State University, one of my professors encouraged the class to be agents of Social change. Years later, when I was a corporate worker and was injured by my job, and decided to work as a full time poet, I decided that much of my poetry would be written so that people would have to at least consider the socio-political-global power and the effects of institutions, systems, individuals and groups that render children and adults homeless, hungry, battered, illiterate, murdered, raped, tortured, exploited as workers, suffering or dying from utility shut off...why women are still fighting to be heard, recognized and receive equal wages...As I write, I (re)member being on a local cable network's poetry show in the 1990's and the host, after hearing my poems stated: Well, you certainly don't write happy poems! I wish I could find the video tape of that session. I (re)member saying that I write about life and what I have witnessed around me. I even wrote a poem that is a parody of that session that included her statement, with repeating lines about not writing "nice" or "happy" poems. With all of this stated, I'd like to say that I have written a few "nice" poems about love, nature, food, family members,travelling, and other subjects.
It is now 11:45 a.m. and in 3 hours, I will be hosting The Broadside Press Poets Theater at U of D-Mercy.