Sunday, May 30, 2010

on passion

more than ever, i'm in the practice of constantly considering how i can engage each of my passions equally, simultaneously, and meaningfully. my two passions, only slightly distinct from the subtitle of this blog, are:
  1. poetry, and
  2. liberation of all oppressed people, with a particular focus on blacks, women, and queers :)
i'll be starting an MFA in creative writing in the fall while attempting to continue to develop professionally in the field of paid community organizing. in the meantime-in-between time, i'm trying to immerse myself in both liberation struggles and poetry on a daily basis.

through my job and my volunteer organizing, i'm a part of the take back the land (tbtl) movement. it's a coalition of community based organizations and individuals from across the country who believe that housing is a human right that should be granted by any means necessary--but mostly through direct action and civil disobedience. given the reality of the homelessness epidemic, the foreclosure crisis, the gentrification boom--including the unprecedented number of luxury condos emerging in low-income communities, and the national attack on public housing, the logic behind the movement is simple:

people don't have permanent housing--distinct here from simply shelter-- not because they're poor or because they're unemployed or fell behind on their mortgage payments or because they spent all their money on their drug or alcohol addiction or got sick or have bad credit. people don't have permanent housing because in our society, housing is a commodity, not guaranteed as a human right. period. the people and entities who own the land and the housing--mainly cities, banks, and developers--would rather make a profit than provide a place to live to everyone who needs one. more than this being simply a sad capitalist fact, this is a human rights injustice.

one of the guiding tenets of the take back the land movement is borrowed from the civil rights movement: when a policy is unjust, it's the responsibility of the people to change it. so when the south was desegregated because all those beautiful courageous folks decided to sit at those lunch counters and ride those buses in a humane way, it certainly set a precedent.

the point is, i was in the bronx two weeks ago, participating in a three-pronged direct action event with tbtl-affiliated organization picture the homeless. i was utterly immersed in the scene as a part of the security contingent. by all accounts, it was a successful action but by the end, i began to feel guilty for not having once distinctly thought about poetry. where was my poetry? where did it fit?

it was everywhere. the poem was happening and it was up to me to capture it's necessity, it's urgency, to bring awareness to it, to prove it. then i considered that age-old question: if a poem occurs on a bronx spring day, but no one is there to name it, did it ever really happen?

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