The Political Poem That Was Bullied Out Of Me (in solidarity with CTU)

Stand with CTUIn solidarity with our allies in the CTU, we are sharing the text of this poem by slam poet and teacher Molly Meacham. She was kind enough to perform it for us at an Occupy Rogers Park strike solidarity event on Friday.

THE POLITICAL POEM THAT WAS BULLIED OUT OF ME
By Molly Meacham

I had never been small
until I heard how evil I am
for being a teacher. With the lie levels
rising in newspapers, emails,
interviews, announcements,
the steady flood of anti-
teacher propaganda
dissolves dignity
past patience
until I am in-
visible and
taste of
salt.

Me—
the frightening muse of room 202
is this incredible
shrinking
violet.

I’ve often told students to absorb
environment and squeeze it
into writing, but I, hypocrite, cannot
check my mail without earplugs
and blinders now. There is always a top
story that burns my cheeks ashen,
and I am scattered by breath.

But there’s no headline for me
or for colleagues who’ve sold houses,
who’ve taken on loans and grey-streaked temples
to brace for the fight.

These headlines are about these politicians,
their pockets, and their pride. Articles
full of double speak and forked tongue
hissing. The mayor and the board deal students
as playing cards in stacked decks.

They know nothing of the kids themselves:
Her grammar jokes, his zombie impression. That he’s afraid his father
is never getting out of jail and his mom has breast cancer.
That she is the first in her family to go to college
and got a full ride. That he came out of the closet, and his mother is praying
for evil to cease its possession. That she reinvents the world
on the page and then stages it. These kids swirl
in cutbacks, media overload, starved affections, and poetry.
They swear and swagger and smile metal.

The fact these kids are alive and breathing knowledge
in deadly communities is more miracle
than Lazarus rising. And they do—they baptize
their papers in ink and wash drafts clean
with red. They highlight, spotlight, moonwalk. I mean,

they are teenagers…there are mad dashes through
the halls, too many tardies and dress code violations.
But they are green and sprouting: dandelions
and dahlias, ivy, wisteria, and willows.

I am a simple gardener, tilling
with words, preparing the ground—
loam, sand, silt, clay. The clay models itself
into familiarity. Into the expression
of understanding that’s unique to each child.

The board wants me to see only numbers,
to measure the kids with percentages,
to see them as payment and value-added.
But I am an English teacher.
Numbers have never been my thing.

I see that their learning is the shape of a yellow raft
on a green river. We are the river dwellers.
There is no salt in our water.

It feels wrong to hate politicians who have never met me,
but they made us feel miniscule—buzzing winged
things like gnats or mosquitoes—for being teachers.
It makes me hunger for Biblical
retribution. So I will be an insect…
in a plague of cicadas. We will be dressed as
a river of blood, a torrent of chant and noise.

There is no poem for this fight, for watching
the mild mannered lose their voices
from screaming chants, feet raw with marching.
Hands, callused for chalk, will be rubbed with new blisters
from holding signs.

If we are faceless, let us be the drought, the blight,
the salt in this freshwater city
so our students will not be nameless, faceless scores
in a city that hunts them for statistics.

We will be living the politics.
Not writing a poem.
I invite you (and ask you) to stand with me,
for them.

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It’s NATO time!

Resist NATOWe want to welcome all who are in town in solidarity with Occupy Chicago protesting against the NATO summit! Stop by room 501 at our 500 West Cermak location to check out the library.

Our lending policy is: please use the books as you see fit. Read them here, take them home, lend them forward.

We have a community journal where you can leave thoughts, poetry, artwork, etc. Leave us a note!

We also have printed copies of the documents sent in response to the Truthout DHS FOIA request (1st set) and the full text of the “sit down and shut up” ordinances.

You can also subscribe to podcasts by our friends at Political Discontent Radio by scanning the QR code found on any wall in the library. Do it!

Tell us why you love bookstores!

We’ve posted a lot this week.  Today we want to hear from you.  Tell us… Why are local bookstores important to you?

Leave your response in the comments, on our Facebook page, or if it’s concise, tweet at us.

We’d like to share this response from Kelly Hayes of Occupy Rogers Park:

Armadillo’s Pillow, a used bookstore in RP, brings something special to our neighborhood. It has character, and personally, I find the place downright enchanting. I did a photo shoot there, a couple years ago. I asked about bringing in a model and snapping some shots, and the owner didn’t even have to think about it. She was immediately down with her place being used for an art project. A corporate store wouldn’t have allowed such a thing, and they wouldn’t have had an ambiance that would have made the idea appealing in the first place.

Since the Pillow’s books are used, it’s easy to wander in on any given day and find some treasure that you can afford to take home with you. It’s cozy, and it feels like the kind of place where you can go to dream, or learn, or just get lost in possibility. If it ever closed, a beautiful piece of my neighborhood would disappear. How many chain stores can you say that about?

P.S. Don’t forget to attend our first event next week for Occupy Your Local Bookstore!

First Occupy Your Local Bookstore event announced!

Thanks for the overwhelming enthusiasm and positive feedback on our launch of Occupy Your Local Bookstore last night!  It’s exciting to see so many people on board with this idea.

We have just created a Facebook event to announce our first of many such events/actions.  Please RSVP on Facebook or in the comments section below to let us know if you will be able to make it.

Details:

When: Monday, April 16th at noon

Where: Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore

7419 Madison St, Forest Park, Illinois

What:

Our first event will be to visit Atria’s Great Mystery Bus Tour when it stops at Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park next week. This event features not one but FOUR top-notch mystery authors (John Connolly, William Kent Krueger, Liza Marklund, and M. J. Rose) signing books and meeting readers.

To learn more about Atria’s Great Mystery Bus Tour, visit their Tumblr: http://mysterybustour.tumblr.com/

Centuries & Sleuths is easily accessible from the Forest Park stop on the blue line. Learn more at their website: http://centuriesandsleuths.com/

Please stop by, meet some authors, and buy a book from one of our favorite local indie booksellers!

Reading Recommendation Roundup, part 1

Reading Recommendation RoundupIf you follow us on Twitter and/or like us on Facebook, you might have seen our tweets/posts last week asking for your Occupy reading recommendations.  We got some great responses, which we’re sharing below.  We’ll do this again periodically, so stay tuned!

 

Hey Occupy Chicago, let’s talk books!  If you had to choose one book to recommend to Occupiers, what book would it be and why?

@exileinflyville: Tough Q. Probably The Shock Doctrine.

@immnamna: The Wisdom of Forgiveness, about the Dalai Lama. Some very surprising anecdotes by a man close to him.

@greasy0vagabond: “The Way of the Peacful Warrior” by Dan Millman … Its the perfect read.

@ThinkmoreNow: The Shock Doctrine Tells it like it is

@danacutts: Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism

@sigfreyd: A Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, b/c it’s a precautionary tale of theocratic/corporate tyranny.

@nickLbrothers: Second on Shock Doctrine.

@SamwiseOccupies: 1 book for Occupiers? The Lorax (fuck the movie, though)

@OC_EDU: One recommendation: @davidgraeber’s Debt.

@chiiillin: Get Up Stand Up by Bruce Levine, because it’s both encouraging/emotional and strategic/logical.

@Mojostarz: Boomerang by Michael Lewis

@thezitoeffect: Death in the Haymarket; a saga about the 1886 general strike for the 8 hr. workday

@The_book_girl: Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Great philosophy behind Civil Rights movement. Relevant today

Colleen Haithcock: I don’t think it has been written yet but google Will Allen Food Revolution and see what he is up to! (Note: The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen will be published on May 10th.)

Justin Gallant: three-Last Days of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann (Because it lays out our environmental and psychological problems)
Work- CrimeThinc (Because it shows how everyday employees are committing the heinous crimes that we fight against, how the whole system of work is a mockery of our gifts)
Critical Path by Buckminster Fuller (Beecause he lays out what we must do about the problems we face today)

Randal Haithcock: Christopher Alexander et al, A Pattern Language. It is an architectural handbook based on a study of humane traditional building (The Timeless Way of Building). Useful for planning rehabbing of buildings.

M.g. Mary Grace: The Assassination of Fred Hampton by Jeffrey Hass is a riveting page-turner as well as profound lesson in taking on Chicago police and corrupt cronies when they use murder and violence to get their way. It also shows how amazing the People’s Law Office is, with civil rights attorneys such as the great Flint Taylor, who still practices in Chicago today. Knowledge = Power; we must arm ourselves with the lessons of the past. And Fred Hampton is a crucial leader for Occupy to look up to and remember.

M.g. Mary Grace: Red Star Sister by Leslie Brody, To Teach: the Journey in Comics by Bill Ayers, The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci

Randal Haithcock: John Vonhof, Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatment for Athletes, for folks who have to walk a lot.

Thanks for all the great suggestions!  Happy reading.