It's the first of October..
It's the first day of Filipino American History Month.
It's also LGBT History Month; Tackling Hunger Month; Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month; and so many other acts of honoring, remembering, and celebrating.
And today, I am starting a state-wide, month-long project to collect 2-4 LINES OF POETRY for a crowd-sourced poem I am calling WE ARE HERE, which takes direct inspiration from the words of the three poets I quote below~
In his Leaves of Grass (1892), American poet Walt Whitman wrote:
O Me! O Life!
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring--What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Filipino poet Jose Garcia Villa wrote in 1942 Have Come, Am Here.
And writer, poet, and organizer Carlos Bulosan wrote in 1940 "If You Want to Know Who We Are," from which these lines are excerpted:
"...We are multitudes the world over, millions everywhere;
in violent factories, sordid tenements, crowded cities,
in skies and seas and rivers, in lands everywhere;
our numbers increase as the wide world revolves
and increases arrogance, hunger, disease and death.
We are the men and women reading books, searching
in the pages of history for the lost word, the key
to the mystery of living peace, imperishable joy;
we are factory hands field hands mill hands everywhere,
molding creating building structures, forging ahead,
Reaching for the future, nourished in the heart...."
Anyone in Virginia can participate.
Use any (one or a combination) of the following questions as your starting point:
In this year+ of tumult and change,
What does it mean to create community and inclusivity in these difficult times?
What does it mean to survive and tell your own/your family's/community's story?
What does it mean to reach toward the future?
What does it mean to reach for "imperishable joy?"
What "lost word" would you want to find?
You could also write your 2-4 lines in response to something that you connect with in my poem "We Are Here" (see below).
Send your 2-4 lines in the body of the email (NO attachments) to WeAreHerePoetry "at" gmail.com
Include the following information after your lines:
Age &/or Profession
Lines will be collected from 1-31 October 2021.
Our collaborative poem will be published on this website.
I look forward to hearing your voices!
WE ARE HERE
Luisa A. Igloria
I crossed an ocean too.
We were not running from bullets.
We were not important enough
to be political prisoners.
There was no war, I have
no visible shrapnel scars.
Only a recent calamity
that left my whole city in ruins,
that tore my house in two.
Two weeks after the earth shook
buildings like toy maracas, father swayed
against the door frame
in his faded yellow bathrobe
as if to say goodbye.
In the morning he choked
as mother spooned soft scrambled eggs
into his mouth.
Then his eyes rolled back in his head
and he stiffened in the chair.
Can I say we took him
to the hospital if the hospital
was barely standing? I can see
the shape made by the feather
stroke of blood that issued
from the corner of his mouth.
The sky lifted with the noise
of rescue helicopters.
We were not on them.
I was not on them.
I found another way across
the ocean. I took
what was offered, learned
to hide the sounds of hurt
in my ears.
It's difficult to erase the taste of guilt
we learned to keep in our mouths.
But happiness touches down lightly,
like wings, every now and then.
We still have a habit of always
looking back. We are learning
the names of other birds.
Standing upon the shoulders of giants Einstein grasped
the future, handed it down
There really is enough future to hand around
If we used our hands to hold every human to the sky
our billions could lay hands on the moon almost
- J. Scott Wilson,Yorktown, VA; 52, Publisher
The times were told by the hands— the poet's pen,
in prayer, a toddler's touch, my father's last grasp,
the pocket of love resting between hands
that don't know or care about race or gender
- Carol Parris Krauss, Portsmouth, VA;
62; Mother, Teacher, Poet
I hand the panhandler candy
Aghast at his blackened beaming teeth
Which dissolves like stirred sugar
In the syrup of our shared delight
- Shirley Lavin, Kents Store, VA;
62, RE Admin
and learning to laugh, lips parting to reveal
one of life's choicest joys.
Soaking in moments of ease,
breathe, breathe again, my dears.
- Tope Abigail Larayetan, Virginia Beach, VA;
23, Writer & MFA student