New Orleans

Poetry in Stormy Times

“Syllable by syllable let each verb,
each noun
build a fortress on your insides. Strengthening
the levees of your soul”

Sitting out Hurricane Irene with my family in Boston, winds battering the windows, I thought I might share a storm-related post. As Irene makes its way up the east coast, and reports of flooding and deaths come in, it’s difficult not to be reminded of Katrina — that storm that both devastated the gulf coast and uncovered some key deficits in our country and government.

There is much we can learn from our responses to natural disasters. In addition to renewing our respect for the natural world, and our inability to fully control it, disasters stretch our resources to the limits. In doing so, they highlight systems of racism and oppression that are always there, but are deftly hidden within the myths our country tells itself.

In the newest set of resources put out by the Zinn Education Project, teaching artist Renée Watson tells of how she took advantage of these national teachable moments — as well as the power of spoken word poetry — to educate and empower a class of New York City youth. (more…)