Skip to main content

tv   Author Discussion on Poetry and Activism  CSPAN  August 19, 2021 4:03pm-4:55pm EDT

4:03 pm
that i have. and i am also reading for genuine easy pleasure, new biography of eleanor roosevelt and his by david michaelis, and it is excellent. there are all sorts of things going on that attendant mentioned that he really gets into your head. at first, how shouldn't a woman be writing about her, he makes you feel like you are behind her eyes and unlike a lot of eleanor biographies, never the actually a couple of them. i have a thing about her for some reason. it's not really all about fdr. within our way she standing next to him doing things. note, on her so that's when i'm actually reading it when i sit down tired but it also going to get through this 1200 page gotham. matt: is been an absolute
4:04 pm
pleasure to speak with you and were so grateful that you came and spoke with us doctor john mcwhorter. will follow in the send out a follow-up e-mail, please remember to support your local bookseller. our final program of the season will be held on friday may 14th, and are to walk, writer and critic who will be in conversation with him. and more information about our library programs and membership, is a website. thank you for joining us. thank you doctor john mcwhorter. ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪♪
4:05 pm
♪ ♪ ♪♪ >> sunday, cspan series, januare continues, two more members of congress hear stories of what they saw heard inexperience that day. including pennsylvania democratic susan wilder, who recounts happen during those early moments on the house floor read. >> i honestly don't remember how long we were in that situation between the time they barricaded the door the time we finally got out predict they've told me mean more like 20 minutes read it could have been two hours it could've been five minutes thati had no sense of time whatsoever. but remember when i got off the phone with my kids go to felt though my heart was pounding out of my chest and i felt, i
4:06 pm
actually was worried that i was having a heart attack, never had one but i do have my father had a heart attack. have family history so i was actually kind of worried about, very worried about that and i must've put my hand up to my chest because a photograph of me that was taken shows me lying on my back with my hand on my chest and i don't remember lying on my back. but i do remember jason taking my hand and stroking it and kind of comforting me and telling me that i was going to be okay. and being a little bit perplexed that he was reassuring me because i didn't realize that i was showing how upset it was. >> this week you will also hear from massachusetts democrat jim government, anyway six, views from the house, sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, or listen on the c-span radio app. >> i'm councilmember from the
4:07 pm
city of gaithersburg and house for the presentation of before we get started, a quick plug to support the offers and the others from purchasing the book from our partner politics and prose, one of america's premier independent bookstores. we have links to purchase the presentation and given all that we have been through over the past year, is so important to support local jobs, and they local economy. i also want to extend a big thank you to our 2021 featured author, david and michael blair, family foundation for the generous support read okay, let's get started. today we have with us for acclaimed poets to discuss poetry and social justice throughout history. with work spanning the pre-
4:08 pm
civil war to the modern era and the latest book grapple a long road of racism patriotic tree and other social issues. it raising came by joseph ross in the words himself, the urges the readers to walk along martin lutheran king jr. and they happily stopped, mobs, and fire hoses. and listen for the hopes and fears. the author of four books of poetry in his poems appear in many publications including the new york times magazine and the los angeles times and has received multiple pulitzer prize nominations one of the 2012 library little review, poetry prize for his poems.
4:09 pm
the mother of god. and by the "by broad potomac's nashore" by the early days of or national capitol by kim roberts, by both well-known and overlooked poets. living in the capitol and working on the city's founding in 18 hundreds, - 1930. included are problems by celebrated writers such as walt whitman and frederick douglass as well is the work of lesser-known poets. kim roberts is the author of the literary guide to washington dc. walking in the footsteps of american fighters from francis to others and five books of poems. in the most recently, the scientific method.
4:10 pm
"political af" by campbell, is a hybrid chapbook of poetry in the collection focuses on topics such as race, corruption, gun violence, police brutality confederate monuments and reproductive freedom in the sex harassment and it abusive women. campbell is writer and teacher and fellow and fiction editor. she received her msa from american university and the author of the novel tribulation and three other collections. bicycle, midnight, and cabinet of wrath, adult collection. moderating in the discussion between these three powerful poets, as ethel miller. in award-winning literary activist and author to memoirs
4:11 pm
and several poetry collections. he hosted w pf morning radio show, with ethelbert miller and house and produces which received at 2020 ward, his latest book, as god invented a baseball was awarded the 2019 literary award for poetry as a black caucus of the american library association. it is a turning over to all of you, the only regret i have is that were not celebrating here in gaithersburg in person and we look forward to doingng this net time so for d now, welcome joseh kim tara and others. it. >> very nice to be with you. some of you begin, please on
4:12 pm
january 6, the attack on our capitol immediately many people make reference to who are 1812, talk about some of the writers that happen to be read today. some of which i read in your book. if until what we just saw happen this year. >> yes so is first with 1800 when dc was founded. a lot of those early poets you know, i was surprised to see how many of them were making political statements and commentary about government and the role of government in our urlife rated and so i started en from his early poets looking specifically for writers are
4:13 pm
bringing up issues that resonate with us today. the writers who are writing about war and conflict about race gender, economic inequities. cultural differences. and you know, and also be surprised to know that there were a number of poets who were actively engaged in the political issues. i would say that especially if you're looking at like, 1812 and some of his earlier eras, the sum of the most fascinating poems in the books to me for about how the country was
4:14 pm
wrangling with race and identity and specifically about slavery and abolition. and it dc, you may are not be aware, was the center for the internal slave trade in the country. and so it was also a major center from the abolitionist movement. so i don't know, i think of, there is a poet who is also a religious leader reverend in the name of john martin. and if you look at and i am thinking of a specific a poem of his from the anthology from freedom and i will read the whole thing. it is long but if you get some of those sense that i just may
4:15 pm
be read one and love it's just so powerful. the altars of bondage are blazing with fire in the slaves in his gains, is it grim sacrifice, the tones of the preach, rise higher and higher but is god now in conflict regards on his price and the merchant in fear bring to stick to the altar in a statement and ensures bring laws on pain and a demagogue accent and doubt caught, falters the union and it sounded again and again. but all is in vain, the heavens are think are with cartons of dread to oppressions in each soul and almighty troops flashes brighter and quicker while terrific reason and thunders still role. the earthquake has shattering
4:16 pm
their things to pieces and omit the eruptions of volcanic speech in a whirlwind us in the torrance in theory and increases in fury and tyrants alternately to speech. >> thank you kim. want to begin with this, this historical sort of backup but now on ask the question. it's for everyone. if you look at back, and you all headed books that appeared in 2020 and i feel that the country change in 2020 the world change in 2020, with the black lives matter movement as your voice as a writer. and how you view this country in a different way, something that you have taught. >> i would say that the black lives matter movement, the
4:17 pm
dissonance for me in terms of how avon discuss race because as mixed race person, i've sort of walked through the world of - and i don't face all of the obstacles that my blackett cousins and darker skin siblings might've faced. made me think about how even talk about these things. it's an optical because people like myself, aren't necessarily part of thatar discussion and tt we are both, both of these have. so i had problems with the head away been starred in this certain context. because i myself am not the one at this particular kind of risk necessarily. in my weird day in this circumstance and maybe think aboutt our language and how even
4:18 pm
the language is a barrier, it's coming together in this context. so about how to even begin to talk about these things. >> before i have joseph respond, so one of two read your poem, the trouble with pronouns. >> this poem came about because of this very problem. i wouldn't even know howro to start a conversation because i didn't know i would be talking about we or they in this particular context. so i wrote my way out of this aura into it however you care to define that. this is called the trouble with pronouns. that's exactly why my lips and my tongue freeze, another unarmed black man did not want to be clear my pronouns are not because i mixed race and mixed
4:19 pm
up trying to explain black and white a now we are they might fl the gap. sometimes i like the confidence is speaking out of the light-skinned blue-eyeded face, grew up in mainstream middle-class two-parent home in alaska and intended multi ethnic school, and watched gilligan's island andan get smart and more overhauls. so how, even black enough because i have no history with church your colors and i don't feel like singing andfe i actuay have in my dreams are not heard, their affirmatively actionable so have i actually earned the right to say week. we.
4:20 pm
but how cang my tongue insist on meeting my teeth. this ruling at the right sounds by choice and by importing alaska, can even get a job in the 60s and trying to entangle reverse racism in my comments. i didn't remember did i prayed about one drop coursing through my veins into uncomfortable thought forgh certain words, spending too many years with rollers in my hair and a relaxer in my resume. smiling with my spiky black and coolness. and how can i not here for my brother when darker skin than mine in the world where they don't hesitate to say they. my lips, tongue freeze. the debate rolls on, all mixed up in black and white.
4:21 pm
>> thank you tara. so the question that i asked relates to me, how does the black lives movement info with you. >> wolves influence me a lot since influence my writing and's especially i would say influenced many of the poems and "raising king". are the important ways its influence means for my students from i am a high school teacher in washington dc and i watch these young people walk through the world that w does nothing te matter much. i worry about the threats they face, the fears they have in their essays and in the poems. i try to understand that and i try to learnea from them i am personally, married to an
4:22 pm
african-american man into the black lives matter movement live in my house. and i live with those concerns all of the time. in terms of the poems and "raising king", especially recently, as i have done more and more readings from it is only been out for about six months now, but discovered even some of the language of black lives matter, in the poems. a couple off them try to step into the voice of king or doctor king and mindful of the potential dangers and that. but almost unconsciously, some of the phrasing of black lives matter language shows up there. and i suppose, but i want really is that those two things
4:23 pm
converge, the truth, the black lives matter shows up in these poems, doctor king did not use gthat phrase. in its current formulation but there be no daylight between his view of the world and is complex and thoughtful critique of america. and much of what black lives matter, the movement is saying yiand about today. >> i want to link this to and i'll ask you this question in this context. when you think of king. in the dream, walt whitman and the expert of 19 the new book, you told about how whitman's reputation and weight in this
4:24 pm
weather now, when we cover the black lives matter movement and the january 6, surely look at women to restore our belief in america or should look at him differently. >> is a fascinating question of a part ofis the reason why his reputation waned is because he is someone who we have traditionally invested so much of our own interpretation in. certainly, his record in supporting people of color is really horribly met and yet he is an icon for lgbtq people and how much we read him as the whole mixed picture, as opposed
4:25 pm
to picking up different parts of you know, changing depending on where we are at as well. i think you have to understand it in terms of context of their time. and i tried were good to give as much context as possible. and then you also have to recognize that we are imperfect human beings. and try to take what we can, learn from these poetics forbearers and set aside those things that are like not useful during that. so i think that women is a great example off that. and of course i used one of whitman's poems.
4:26 pm
"by broad potomac's shore" comes directly from him but i really, i guess part of the way that i want to talk to this is a non- whitman answer which is when you put together an anthology, you are doing so very consciously. yes of course i am thrilled to have whitman in the book i couldn't think of having an anthology of people about whitman but the reason that i wanted to put the book together was to actually increase the number of women writers, writers of color, working-class writers, writers whose work is just as good as whitman or some of the bigger names that we recognize who are not for various reasons being remembered it in red and taught in school.
4:27 pm
>> tara, you just heard kim's response to my question and i am going to explain your words. [laughter] so when you wrote, the american dream, on stolen lands of your father's money and shared the soul. you wrote that joseph and kam and how he responded that that you wrote. >> that particular image was directed at a particular person who has been very prominent in past proximally four years or so but is indicative of this promise that the american promise has been appealed to the 1 percent and this is a myth the rest of us are supposed to aspire to.
4:28 pm
since then as we know better, we ate take a better look at the role models in the past is hard to sees them as complete human beings. with all other flaws and all of their strengths and the idea is to come to a deeper understanding of you know, sort of moving the scales from your eyes. but that doesn't mean that everything is eliminated. that means it we can see it for what it is in a way in a more informed manner. so yes part of this discussion about the removal of monuments and streets changing and so on so forth. there's been a surprising amount of resistance. because once you see what that person has stood for, and am talking about cases that even sees the sword of the standard
4:29 pm
is in terms of someone with a reasonably been expected to believe that the time. take a historical time into context but there are people who exceed the limits in terms of humanity. it and even in those cases, names and monuments have been changed for various reasons so that statement is all about saying to the folks, look at, you've lived this impossible dream. so let's precalculated in recalibrate and hold people to account. >> so this is april 2021, 52 years ago martin luther king was assassinated in memphis. what lessons can we learn from king. >> goodness, a lot. my mind immediately goes to some of his thinking that the dream
4:30 pm
language, the washington speech in particular. "when leno language was really sort of ignores and what people sort of referred to as the whitewashing of king. think about his critique and about american culture what he called the giant triplets of militarism, poverty and racism. e... ... there is a time to think about and read and learn from and i think provide, that provides us a lens through which to see our own country and to see the world
4:31 pm
in some ways that's described a little more honestly and a little more accurately so we can make better cultural decisions about whose stature we put on a pedestal in a circle or who we name a building after. the boys been struck by this and i don't know doctor king said this explicitly but why we think we can't critique our country and love itt at the same time is maddening to me. it seems to me that doctor king had it exactly right that country requires a critique and insistence to make things better. the flip of that is america love it or leave it thing, which is foolish, anti-intellectual, not thoughtful and we have to do better than that.
4:32 pm
>> sure with us one of your poems from the book. >> one of the poems you suggested i read as a short poem called it takes time, they respond to excerpts of the book. this response to something he wrote while we can't wait which is the 1963. doctor king but we made it clear who wouldn't offend send anybody out to demonstrate who have not convinced themselves and i think that accent privates without retaliating so this is called it takes time. it takes time to learn this and must be proven inn the light of day that you look him in the hand and love his fist to death.
4:33 pm
so at the heart of doctor king's teachings in the heart of his christian faith is this deep belief in nonviolence and i think that comes through the bulk of the poems, everything about nonprofits, he's about more than that but that was his method, he deeply believed that would be the most effective method for change. >> but talk about teaching, you are all teachers at one time. i want to ask you, in teaching, are there certain writers he returned to?rn also with your most recent book, the lesser-known, i want to teach and i'm going to introduce this because they are very
4:34 pm
important, why don't you respond to that. >> sure. there are certain writers i return to again and again but increasingly they seem to be writers who are less well known so for k example, i have been teaching nelson who always gets overshadowed by her first husband following dunbar and her work, especially her poem, better known for in her lifetime has updated somewhat but her poetry continues to gather. i think of a lot of other writers during what we now call
4:35 pm
the renaissance. it a lot of the writers who are best known to us now had to be male writers who moved to new york and so many of the top e-mail writers of the movement weren't here in d.c. so georgia douglas johnson, i feel like we need to widen succession more. if there is time, i would love to read a poem. >> go ahead. >> oh, now? okay. after one of the harlem renaissance era writers, she published under her maiden name this poem is called swag salute.
4:36 pm
i pledge allegiance to the flag, they dragged him naked through the muddy streets of a black boy and the charge supposed assault upon an asian woman of the united states of america. 1 mile they dragged like a stack of meals, a rope around his neck, bloodied your left dangling by the patriotic hand, a boy of 17 to the republic for which it stands and fay hanged hisst body to a tree below the window of a county judge pleading for that human flesh stifled by the british palace men and boys and women brought out to see this murder in the style of 33. 3000 strong, they were. one nation, indivisible to make it complete, they built a fire.
4:37 pm
what matters, the stuff they w burned was flesh and bone and hair and leaking gasoline with liberty and justice, they cut this and pass them out for souvenirs among the men and boys to keep golden change to hang dollars and mothers, sisters, for all. >> thank you. >> i loved the way the pledge of allegiance is repurposed which a lot of contemporary writers are looking back at these fundamental texts during the same writing, it felt so contemporary to me. >> anyone that you return to? >> i'm sorry, i was muted. this question for me takes us on a tangent because my primary one
4:38 pm
is fiction. i can see speculation in terms of broadening arbiter of what the goal is. out of this history much more limited than the people who were actually writing it. it's very white, male and text ffocus but kim was talking in terms of overshadowing others doing the work as well. i like to let people know that they were writing speculative fiction as well that can be the face of sci-fi as well. the writers i come back to our week in this by not making it explicit but they make the case
4:39 pm
by existing. one writer i love is -- he's laying literary and fiction. unapologetically, he's created a whole town to play in in terms of his fiction so i find myselfn coming back to this story again and again. >> what about you, justin? >> the last several years i've been teaching american literature and given a lot of tfreedom so i felt the course n frederick douglass who in some ways, i've discovered in the last 20 years, which is absurd of course but i grew up, no teacher or professor ever that the name frederick douglass or harriet tubman in a classroom or hughes until i was an undergraduate so we do a lot of frederick douglass, reading the
4:40 pm
narrative, several of his speeches, i was happy to say in kim's book from one of his poems is there, not known for poems. i love to introduce students to a poet name george holt horton, his poetry 19th century, more line stanzas but also it's very clear and crisp about his experience as an enslaved person. his biography is the most distinctive thing in american lit that students will experience. he used to drive a vegetable wagon from the t plantation to e newly founded university ofly north carolina chapel hills on a master special. eventually he began writing poems for students, girlfriend and um students to get their
4:41 pm
girlfriends a talk with them and they would realize he's a poet, became friends with the faculty professor's wife who helped him get his first couple of books published he eventually asks the master if he can live in chapel hill and work on his poems. the slave owner agrees as long as he pays a certain amount of money in a day, which he does so he lives until emancipation off the plantation, off-campus sort of, it's the most amazing story. unfortunately he's not freed until emancipation when he goes to philadelphia and marries and has children and we end up with i think three books of his poems so amazing. i always return to the poems especially at the end of a chronological survey of america lit. >> something i have to retain
4:42 pm
when you say off-campus, off plantation, it's just a joke. [laughter] on a serious note in this is important, we are talking right now having this conversation with history, black lives matter movement but while we have this discussion, the major concern right now in our country is asian-american attacks. i've seen some people say we need to know more about asian americans, koreans and japanese and doing research, how much are you highlighting the work of asian americans? i'll bring it with you, can. >> when i go back, this is why i have admiration for you. when i wash trying to create ths program at historic black
4:43 pm
colleges, you are one of the first persons, feet first person, i always saw you working communities are doing the work and digging, i was just wondering, would you become a model to set the work for asian-american works nights in american literature? >> it's so much about the inequities of the publishing industry. i do not include a single asian-american poet in mind because in those early years i am looking at a publishing was really not open to asian way that would encourage people who are writing to p try and share their work ia
4:44 pm
more public way so while i include a couple of american indian writers in my survey, there are no asian americans. however, that does not mean asian americans were not actively writing. they just were not publishing mainstream newspapers and journals and single author books. i think that knowing that history and having that foundation behind you is crucial work so i think you have some excellent points that we need to start looking at specific communities and doing that research, building on that and certainly in my own teaching, i teach a lot of contemporary
4:45 pm
asian-american writers whose work i love specifically if people are looking at a place to start, i would suggest marilyn particular but i think doing that digging -- we don't just appear as contemporary writers, we stand on the shoulders of those people who come before us. >> did you want to comment on my last question? >> i have to say, mine has been more holistic, whole picture and i have not yet focused on asian from asian-american authors. one thing i do when i teach science fiction classes focus on writers of color and women in a good resource for that, i have
4:46 pm
found i'll mention two books, new sons is edited by nisi style focuses on writers of product. there is also best american science fiction and fantasy series, that is an annual series since 2015 and that also started as anta answer to certain groups of people trying to keep the field white and male and running down women in awards in the hugo award so this series has and i to elevate the work of women and people of color so those are two sources i draw upon and it specifically goes through, try
4:47 pm
to be representative in my classes in terms of what work i put in front of them. >> thank joseph. >> i underline the concern and for me as a high school teacher, it ties into what kim was saying about who gets published where and what will include what writers. the american lit classes i teach, we have talked maxine kingston especially but that's not enough. there is a novelist, a japanese-american novelist who wrote convenient store woman, a japanese novelist, not japanese-american. i don't remember her name but the book is amazing. i have been limited in some ways with the anthologies and even a
4:48 pm
body something like norton to have choices of asian-american authors in the american lit anthology is very recent, like the cap last ten years so we have to do better but. >> my last question to all of you, something tided with langston'she work and we are talking about social justice. if you could dream a world, what kind of world would you dream? what you feel is essential in terms of talking about moving to mars and maybe get it right this time? >> i guess i would go back to the importance of hearing the widest range of voices, we need literature for two reasons.
4:49 pm
we need literature that exposes us to things outside of our own experience and take us to new worlds and we also need a place that reflects our experience. if our literature only expects reflects tiny segments of the american population, then we have failed. i think continuing to open up the candidate and continuing to educate ourselves is crucial. >> my answer is basicns but to e able to better direct our fear, because fear is a powerful tool for survival, we fear fire when it comes toward us but we shouldn't fear folks who look different or asked different or any of the reasons we've been told we should fear people so it
4:50 pm
to better direct our fears, a truly productive things that we need to survive. i would be a root cause. >> could you close this with something from king you find inspirational, something we should take with us as a reminder, something to keep us warm during the winter in america? [laughter] >> i would be happy to first, it plays on instruction so the first poem and second session is called 1963. doctor begins early can't wait, describing problem and working a field in alabama and he goes on
4:51 pm
to reflect on their author helplessness, 1963. love him and his family, there's nowhere to go, nowhere to be, he dreams of nowhere. after dreams of nowhere, he goes nowhere. schools forget and he forgot parent work but he is often forgotten, too, is he a dream? has this country differed him? a girl sitshe on her stoop, oldr than her grandmother but not as dirty, she's not as angry. she sits and remembers school but waits in the field because death allowed it. they shot fear in the book. is the year young people
4:52 pm
posting a melody that hurts and a rhythm that burns. flames so hot, they're shoved against walls but the hoses and water, or county clerk, the governor and country cannot extinguish these things. >> joseph and kim, i want to thank you. i guess i will close by saying why are we still waiting? i hope people click show your work, provide a path for u the future filled with joy so thank you all for l being here. >> thank you. >> thank you, joseph, kim, tara, that was a really interesting conversation and as we are having uncomfortable conversations about dismantling
4:53 pm
systemic racism and a plan for racial equity here, i want to go back to something that joseph said that stood out. we are living in a very challenging time and you can still love your l country and criticize it at the same time because you know there are better ways not only to govern but navigate toward a more just society so i enjoyed this discussion. thank you all so much for being here with us. ♪♪ >> weakens on c-span2 our intellectual. every saturday you will find events and people to explore our
4:54 pm
nation's past on american history tv. sundays, but tv brings the latest in nonfiction books and authors, television for serious readers. learn, discover, explore. weekends on c-span2. ♪♪ >> sunday c-span series january 6, views from the house continues. two more members of congress share stories of what they saw, heard and experienced that day including pennsylvania democrat susan who recounts what happened during early moments on the house for. >> i don't remember how long we were in that situation between the time they barricaded the door and by the time got out. he told me it was somewhere like 20 minutes. it could happen two hours, it could happen five minutes that i had no sense of time whatsoever but i remember when i got off the phone with my kids i felt as though


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on