As The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database turns two years old, we’re thrilled to reflect on trends related to The Quarry’s use and share the top 10 poems most viewed in 2016. From its inception until December 31, 2016, The Quarry was viewed 106, 607 times. That’s over 3 times as many visits as reported last year in August.
We hear of the poems being used by teachers in classrooms, for writing workshops, in vigils, performances, worship services, and more! The poems are traveling the country and the world with their witness and their provocation, their mourning, their love.
We look forward to creatively expanding The Quarry’s reach even further, so it continues to function not only as a repository of excellent poetry, but as an active tool for those who seek to make justice present in our time. Towards that end, we’d love to hear ways you’ve used it – for organizing, teaching, worship, reflection. Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We offer you the 10 poems in The Quarry most viewed in 2016, as inspiration to fuel further action. We celebrate the fact that all ten poems are by poets of color, as is the most viewed poem in The Quarry from its inception in June, 2015 to December 31, 2016: Ross Gay’s “A Small Needful Fact.”
You’ll see some familiar titles on this year’s list if you compare it with one we posted in 2016. In honor of The Quarry turning one, we posted a list last year of the poems most often viewed in its first year, which spanned two years. This year’s list offers a spotlight for poems most viewed and published in 2016. We'll be tracking numbers by calendar year from now on.
About the Most Viewed Poems of 2016
The poems readers turned to most often in 2016 were poems that addressed the dangers our communities face with tremendous compassion, with tenderness, with fierce insistence on staying alive. In 2016, you visited these poems in The Quarry 10,678 times!
The 2016 list tells us readers have been thinking about the complex ways our genders are perceived, how our sexualities are too often policed, about the longing and anger inspired by America’s demands for assimilation, the ways that white supremacists impose and do violence. But these poems all share another theme: they testify to the resilience and resistance of our communities, to their generous and unrelenting imagination.
Through the top 10 poems and the readers who have given them their care and attention, we know that the trouble roving the land now is not new, is not unique, is not even terribly original in its dreams and tactics. Even its courage, its aggression is not new. It is the same trouble that social justice work has always challenged and imagined a way beyond.
But, many people in this country find themselves newly attuned to this old, destructive trouble. It is not only these newly "woke" citizens who feel the pressure, the weird loneliness of living in this trouble and finding the courage to act for the good.
Hannah Arendt taught us that the one greatest tool of totalitarian regimes is isolation and its effect is loneliness. Even in this totally connected age, it's possible to feel (again, and again) abandoned, cornered, isolated. Poetry and poets have long sung to us the truth, and the truth told with clarity dispels that loneliness in each stanza.
The most-viewed poems of 2016 serve as a cure for that oppressive loneliness. Those who hope for our surrender will find, as we do in each of these poems, that they are wrong. We are powerful, and courageous, and we see each other.
Let us revel in these 10 most viewed poems of 2016 from The Quarry (beginning with the most viewed poem of 2016):
- How To Enjoy Your Vacation To A Country That Says It Won The War by Gowri Koneswaran
- I Don't Know Any Longer Why the Flags Are At Half-Staff by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
- america by Fatimah Asghar
- Your Rapist is on Paid Administrative Leave by Tafisha A. Edwards
- The Transkid Explains Gentrification, Explains Themselves by Taylor Johnson
- There Is a Lake Here by Clint Smith
- origin stories (reprise) by Safia Elhillo
- The Hour Dylann Roof Sat In The Church by Denice Frohman
- #flyingwhileblack by Imani Cezanne
- Too Pretty by Sunu P. Chandy
* * * * * *
M. F. Simone Roberts is the Poetry & Social Justice Fellow for Split This Rock where she co-curates and manages The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. Roberts is an independent scholar of poetics and feminist phenomenology, a poet, editor, and activist. She is co-editor of the anthology Iris Murdoch and the Moral Imagination: Essays and author of the critical monograph A Poetics of Being-Two: Irigaray's Ethics and Post-Symbolist Poetics. Her poems are coming soon to a journal near you. Descendant of both aristocrats and serfs, she adventures this world with her consort, Adam Silverman.