Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Workers urged to share their voices in a "community-building, creative investigation of what it means to labor in Wyoming"

Today's news from Michigan shows that the Republican war on workers continues unabated. Southern Wyoming once had a strong union presence in the mines and on the railroads. But most of the railroad jobs were moved out of Rawlins and Rock Springs and the mines got all "Right-to-Work-State" on its workers.

Mark Nowak is a documentary poet, teacher and labor activist who will will serve as eminent writer-in-residence for the University of Wyoming creative writing program in February. He and I are two of the writers featured in Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking out the Jams, a 2010 anthology from Coffee House Press.

This is an excerpt about working in a steel mill from Mark's poetry series, "$00 / Line / Steel / Train," which is included in the anthology:
Because the (brake) past is used because the tearing  (past) of the (brick) form is used is used because the fence (in) of the (goddam) frame is used is used is utterly used against us and by us and upon us and for us is used is used in the present (past) future (form) we are used yet users yet used.

Every day you put your life on the line when you went into that iron house. Every day you sucked up dirt and took a chance on breaking your legs or breaking your back. And anyone who's worked in there knows what I'm talking about.
Mark sent along this info about the "Working (in Wyoming)" project he'll be conducting when he's in the state. Here it is:
Working (in Wyoming) is a community-building, creative investigation of what it means to labor in Wyoming. A series of creative writing workshops will be held in southeastern  Wyoming (Laramie and Cheyenne) in February of 2013.
These workshops will be facilitated by Wyoming writing instructors and students in the University of Wyoming's MFA program in creative writing. In these workshops, Wyoming workers of diverse backgrounds will have the opportunity to collaborate with others in the Wyoming community to create a short piece of creative writing (a poem, a parable, a short story, a piece of flash fiction/nonfiction, etc.).

Working (in Wyoming) will culminate in a large-scale yet intimate evening event in Laramie on February 28. Here working people from across the state will have the opportunity to share what it means to work in Wyoming with a presentation of pieces created in workshops. 
To get involved in the project, contact Kay Northrop at knorthrop@uwyo.edu or Brie Fleming at briennafleming5@gmail.com Read more on the project's Facebook page.

Mark's blog is filled with info about union organizing and strikes worldwide. If you think that workers in the U.S. don't have anything in common with coal miners in China or maquiladora laborers in Mexico, think again, and take a look at Mark's Coal Mountain blog.

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