Why Poetry? Why Now? – a poem from Linda Christensen and an invitation

My dear friend Dr. James Avington Miller Jr. sent me a phenomenal book on poetry called Rhythm and Resistance – Teaching Poetry for Social Justice.

Here is a poem from the forward of the book.  I just had to share it.


You ask, “Why a book on poetry? Why now?”

Because we stand at the brink of public
education’s demise;
because funds from billionaires
control the mouths of bureaucrats,
who have sold students, teachers,
and their families for a pittance;

because curriculum slanted to serve the “job market”
carves away history and humanity,
poetry and narrative,
student lives and teacher art;

because teaching students to write an essay
without teaching them to write
narratives and poetry is like
teaching someone to swim
using only one arm;

because poets are truth tellers and lie breakers
wordsmiths and visionaries
who sling metaphors in classrooms,
in the narrow slices of school hallways,
on the bricks of public courtyards,
and cafés with blinking neon signs
without laying out a dime to corporations;

because new poets are rising up,
pressing poems against windows on Wall Street,
spilling odes down the spines of textbooks,
posting protest hymns on telephone poles,
bubbling lyrics on the pages of tests
designed to confine their imaginations;

because poems hover under the breath
of the boy in a baseball cap,
the girl with a ring in her nose,
the boy with his mom’s name inked on his neck,
and the silent ones in the back:
she’s the next Lucille Clifton
and he sounds like Roque Dalton, saying:

“poetry, like bread,
is for everyone.”

Please check out the book. Please check out this blog post from Linda Christensen. Please make poetry live in your lives.