Thursday, September 17, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Naazneen Diwan

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.

We asked poets to give us 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.


Make a Season of Me
By Naazneen Diwan

on some days I go for walks
completely inverted 
my insides untucked
no protection. 
and it suits me 
my heart no longer
behind ribs but  
the breast of a robin
calling its love home. 
my breath
no longer a wheeze 
narrow strictures
but a dance
that frees  
magnolia petals and prisoners 
into a pond.
and I pull
yards off myself
I am the path 
I walk on
and I match 
the laziness of the river. 
I loosen 
what’s been  
carved into me 
in ribbons of bark 
let the raw 
materials of my hurt 
be foraged 
to build a nest 
in a branch. 
a perfect place 
to sing
of coming

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