Fight the Power, Rock the Vote
As the midterm elections loom on the horizon, we encourage everyone to vote on or by November 6. We also welcome you to visit the Poets House library and find hope and inspiration throughout and beyond this election cycle with some of our anthologies of poetry that gather voices of change, resistance, and political engagement.
The 2016 presidential election and its lead-up have provoked a spate of new poetry anthologies that respond directly to recent political developments and resistance movements.
- Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism is, according to its editors Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan, “part love letter, part manifesto, part confession, part wish,” a “meditation on grief,” and “a collection of truths” with poems written against a backdrop of oppression and resilience.
- The anthology Poets & Allies For Resistance grew out of a literary series formed in support of Black Lives Matter, featuring writers of color and an open mic that focuses on social justice issues.
- Other collections are more broadly defined as their titles indicate: If You Can Hear This: Poems in Protest of an American Inauguration; the 700-plus-page Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance, gathered by 19 editors; and Trumped: A Poets Speak Anthology, with poetry that reacts to “the national and planetary crisis provoked by the election of 11/8/16,” with profits donated to the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Indigenous Environmental Network, and other groups.
Other collections published earlier in our new millennium, and before, resonate with—and often foreshadow—our current struggles.
- Words of Protest, Words of Freedom: Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era features poems that respond to major events and the cultural climate of the 1950s to 1970s, including the lynching of Emmett Till; the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr; and the legacy of the Black Panther Party, with poems from Gwendolyn Brooks, Etheridge Knight, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and other noteworthy poets.
- Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination, edited by Martín Espada, features poetry of “Americá”—both North and South—and includes works from contributors who were jailed, murdered, or exiled for political reasons.
- Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice was created in response to nine Latino students who chained themselves to the Arizona state capitol to protest Arizona’s anti-immigration law SB 1070 in 2010.
- Cultural Activisms: Poetic Voices, Political Voices presents political writing and art—poetry, scripts, essays, artistic statements, and photos—creating a multifarious chorus with writing from the likes of James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Regie Cabico, and Carolyn Forché.
- Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action, edited by Anne Waldman and Lisa Birman, assembles statements, poems, and lectures that invite connections between experimental poetry and expansive notions of the political, including writing by Barbara Guest, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Alice Notley, Arthur Sze, Amiri Baraka, Diane di Prima, and other heavyweights.
We hope you’ll explore these and other poetry books that we trust will offer sustenance in these turbulent times.