Yreka, California

Organizer: Jackie McNamara

Contact: mcnamara@snowcrest.net

writing the ox: 100,000 Poets for Change in Yreka, CA

Monday, October 15, 2012

100,000 Poets for Change in Yreka, CA

On Saturday, September 29, 2012, four women poets–Dori Appel of Ashland, Oregon, Maria Elena Fernandez of Mt Shasta, California, Flannery Clouse of Yreka, California and I–met to read in a coffeehouse, Nature’s Kitchen, in Yreka.This was part of the international movement, 100,000 Poets for Change–an event that fostered 800 events in 115 countries.  Organized online and largely through FaceBook, poets and musicians gathered in Madagascar, Mali, and Mauritania to build global social and cultural awareness and to encourage solidarity among artists and musicians.Yreka is a small mountain town surrounded by ranches and wilderness. I was curious to see what issues would emerge and how we might fit into this global community.

At first, when asked to read, poet and owner of Nature’s Kitchen, Flannery Clouse said, “Since change is inevitable, I’m for it.”  We laughed at our dilemma. As a writer, I don’t see myself as attempting to change cultures and societies when I write–my only focus is to shape images, ideas, impressions into language and to shape that language into a satisfying whole.

In preparation for the reading, we all had to think about what change we wanted to see and to look at our writings to discover what social and cultural issues were already there in the work.

In the course of the reading, a theme emerged from our personal writings that had political heft. In one poem, Fernandez exposed the depth of Demeter’s pain at her daughter’s kidnap and rape. I read “Leda Talks Back,” a poem that pulls back the curtain of Romanticism reveals the ugly truth of that rape.  These poems stand as voices against the recent political “War on Women.”

Clouse (above) even surprised herself by writing a long and blatantly political ditty for the occasion. In one verse, she dealt with the current view expressed by one conservative who is still being supported by many of the Republican mainstream:

Akin has said

If a woman’s raped right

She can’t have a baby

Because she’s too tight.

Roe vs. Wade

Must be unmade

Because we all know that

All of this rot

About a woman’s say

In her body’s parley

Is a freakin’ feminist plot.

For more information about the global event, visit: http://www.bigbridge.org/100thousandpoetsforchange/


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