Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Occupy Writers -- poetry and prose from the field

Occupy Writers is a web site where writers and poets report on Occupy events. They’ve either attended the events in person or have been moved to write poems or essays on events they’ve observed from afar. Other writers have added their names to OW in support of the cause. Hundreds of names on the list now (mine included). And dozens of dispatches from the field.

Ursula LeGuin reports on Occupy Portland:
Our mayor has been very Taoist in handling the whole business, gracefully evading decisions and ultimatums, then going off to China…. So far, so good!
Jerry Stahl reports on Occupy L.A.:
The other night, for example, outside LA City Hall, a representative from nearby Skid Row took his turn speaking during the general assembly. (Because the Homeless, after all, were living on the Street before it was cool.) The rule was two minutes or less. And after filling in the assembled patriots – a word I don’t use lightly; one, in fact, I don’t think I have ever used before, without irony, which I am not using now – the Skid Row speaker invited everybody to breakfast the next day at 6:30 at one of LA’s best-known shelters, the Midnight Mission.

And yes, to me this is the wet, palpitating heart of Occupy Wall Street. Of Occupy The World. The impromptu, part desperation/part rage/part idealism fueled Rising Up – or in this case, Showing up of Americans for the beautiful and long-forgotten cause of… America itself. Mister Rogers meets Thomas Payne. Which is great. And the ultimate, redemptive silver lining in the hell cloud created by the derivative-driven, un-regulated (with apologies to Ginsberg) Fiscal Moloch itself.
Anne Waldman pens a haiku from OWS:
Haiku from Zuccotti Park
Moloch’s motor got stuck
on the roof of Casino Wall Street
look up! moon, a ghost chip in the sky…

10/10/11 “Columbus” Day/Liberty Plaza
Chicago’s Larry Heinemann observes it all from afar:
I live in extremely rural Texas–I’m the Writer in Residence at Texas A&M in College Station–and getting out of town even to Occupy Austin is a large problem. Right now, all I can contribute is encouragement and praise to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. What news of the Occupy movement and events around the country, and now the world, makes it this far into the Great Flat Place makes me think that they are our conscience, and I cannot admire them enough. Let us hope that this ‘movement,’ this state of mind, this way of conducting oneself with dignity and poise endures, and develops into something really fine. It involves the kind of persistent patience leavened with humor that produces no body count and effects the way political business is conducted. I am particularly impressed that The Suits and Talking Heads are baffled, and a little irked, by the lack of a ‘program’ or ‘demands’ or high-profile ‘spokesmen.’ ”What do these people want?” If you have to ask, ladies and gentlemen, then you’re not paying attention.
Amirah Mizrahi reports from Occupy Oakland on Oct. 25:
i was wadi salib 1959
i was musrara 1971
i was palestine in oakland
like never before i was
all the places
in all the radical histories
i know and don’t know 
i heard a trumpet in a marching band
play a tune i recognized
bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao
clapping hands marching feet i gave
away shirts as scarves
to shield faces 
today i was a time
place comma date
that some day some one will be
when she is again marching
in the streets and
knowing history
holding it
Read more at Occupy Writers.

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