Get Out the Vote 2020 with Patricia Spears Jones, Joey De Jesus & Bryan Thao Worra
In the words of Patricia Spears Jones: “Please, please, please vote in the upcoming election because your vote truly, truly counts this year!” November 3, 2020 will likely be the most consequential election of our lives, and voter turnout has never been more important. Three poets who are veterans of civic engagement urge you to cast your ballot in the following public service announcements. View and share these one-minute videos with your friends!
A longtime warrior for progressive politics and social justice, as well as a prize-winning poet, Patricia Spears Jones encourages everyone to get “fired up” for this election cycle, and she spreads the word about two online projects that bring together literature and politics as righteous, combustible fuel.
Informed by his own campaign for New York State Assembly, poet and performer Joey De Jesus implores voters to vote early and—if possible—in person. “Make our voices heard!”
Lao Minnesotan Poet Laureate Bryan Thao Worra, who has long advocated for Laotian, Hmong and Southeast Asian American artists, urges everyone who is eligible to vote to take advantage of that right. “I want all of us to be part of the great American journey,” Bryan says.
For further inspiration, we invite you to watch these three poets in action at the recent Poets House Town Hall on the Election, as they explore poetry’s role in civic life. Noting the 45th anniversary of diaspora for Laotian refugees since the end of the Vietnam war, Bryan Thao Worra discusses the central role of poetry in telling the story of their community and talks more broadly across cultures about poets who have written in opposition to political regimes or political narratives of their time. To respond to current injustices in the U.S., including police brutality targeting Black Americans and violence against people of color, Bryan insists “we have to write to the limits of our imagination.” Patricia Spears Jones describes her interest in “the ways in which the American ideal meets the American horror of racism” and asserts that “it imperils all of us.” She points to the possibility for poetry to disrupt the ideology of white supremacy by offering “different kinds of ideologies and different kinds of mythologies.” Speaking out of their own family’s traumatic experiences within the prison system, Joey De Jesus asks, “how do we abolish the systems that seek to and continue to obliterate us…?” Joey proposes ways that poets might take poetry past the limits of the book, to be an intervention in civic life, and sees “activism as a form of poetic naming of that which has yet to exist in society.”
Please find out more about what these poets have to say by listening to the full Town Hall episode! And please, please, please vote!