Thursday, August 20, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Shadab Fatima

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

From late April to mid-May, Split This Rock asked poets to send the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.


Content Notice: Gender-based Violence 

All The Roads I Know
By Shadab Fatima

All the roads I know,

Are named after dead white men.

All the places I know,

Lay on the intersections of roads,

Renamed after dead brown men.

I do not care to know why they were renamed,

Or even named in the first place.

What I know and care about is that,

These roads would still be as unwelcoming to us, regardless of who they are named after.

All the roads I have known have been unwelcoming,

Even if they lead to places I call home.


I know,

All roads lead somewhere.

These do too,

To intersections,

Where one mid day,

A girl was stabbed in broad day light,

With the sun as a witness.

The next day,

Our all girls school gathered us all, to introduce us to a self defense teacher. 

And I couldn’t help but wonder,

If in the all boys school next to us,

All the boys were assembled to introduce them to a teacher,

Who would teach them,

 how to not stab girls when they are angry.