Thursday, September 23, 2010

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Celebrating 50 Weeks with Kenneth Carroll

Dear Friends,

This week we celebrate 50 weeks of Split This Rock Poem of the Week! For the past 50 weeks, the poems have come to your Inbox, showcasing the voices of tomorrow, the poets who are telling the true story of our lives, the complexity, the fear, the despair, the determination, the vision of another world, just at the edge of the horizon.

And the 50 poems have flown around the world, thanks to all of you, to those who are hungry for these essential voices. Please keep forwarding them widely - including to all your friends and colleagues and family members who you think aren't inclined to read contemporary poetry - especially to them!

To mark this special week, we are happy to feature DC native Kenneth Carroll and his poem "A People's Historian" - a tribute to Howard Zinn. In it, he asks, "who speaks of our triumphs, of how we/altered the course of a raging river of oppression/how we turned our love for each other into a/garrison of righteous rebellion"? Howard Zinn, of course, but also the poets we have featured in Poem of the Week, all the poets "root(ing) around the muck of history" for truth, for the beauty and the difficulty that will help us find our way forward. We salute them all and invite you to forward this email widely, to share the good word. (Just be sure to include all the info about the poet and Split This Rock. Thanks!)

To read past poems of the week, visit the blog archive. In peace and poetry,Split This Rock

A People’s Historian

For Howard Zinn

who will come to tell us what we know
that the king’s clothes are soiled with
the history of our blood and sweat

who memorializes us when we have been vanquished
who recounts our moments of resistance, explicates
our struggles, sings of our sacrifices to those
unable to hear our song

who speaks of our triumphs, of how we
altered the course of a raging river of oppression
how we turned our love for each other into a
garrison of righteous rebellion

who shows us even in failure, when we
have been less than large, when our own
prejudices have been turned against us like
stolen weapons

who walks among us, willing to tell the truth
about the monster of lies, an eclipse that casts
a shadow dark enough to cover centuries

what manner of man, of woman, of truth teller
roots around the muck of history, the word covered
in the mud of denial, the mythology of the conquerors

let them be Zinn, let them sing to the people of history
let their song come slowly, on the periphery of canon
of history departments owned by corporate prevaricators

let their song be sung in small circles, furtive meetings
lonely readers, underground and under siege
their song, the seed crushed to earth, and growing
now a tree, with fruit, multiplying truth.

Used by permission.

Kenneth Carroll is a native Washingtonian. His poetry, short stories, essays, and plays have appeared in Black Literature Forum, In Search Of Color Everywhere, Bum Rush The Page, and American Poetry: The Next Generation. His book of poetry, So What: For The White Dude Who Said This Ain't Poetry, was published in 1997 by Bunny & The Crocodile Press. He is executive director of DC WritersCorps and past president of the African American Writers Guild. He received a 2005 Literary Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, was nominated for a 2004 Pushcart Prize for Poetry, and received the Mayor's Arts Award for Service to the Arts. He was named one of WETA's Hometown Heroes in 2004. Carroll was a featured poet at the inaugural Split This Rock Poetry Festival in March, 2008.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

No comments: