Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poetry is Not a Luxury

The title of an essay by Audre Lourde published in Sister Outsider I read twenty years ago in college. I still remember the astonishment I felt at reading just the title. The idea that something as refined as poetry was essential struck a chord in me that reverberates still. The essential experience of beauty or joy in the expressive power of words.

Today I went in search of poems to post on the wall of the Laundromat. Thinking of all the children I watch walk home from school through the neighborhood, I wonder what awaits them from tender love to rough and tumble. This poem by Gwendolyn Brooks I thought should be among them.

 After School

Not all of the children
come home to cookies and cocoa.
Some come to crack cocaine.
Some come to be used in various manners.
One will be shot on his way home to warmth, wit and

One teacher mutter "My God, they are gone."
One is ripe to report Ten People to the Principal.
One muses "How have I served or disturbed today?"
One whispers "The little Black Bastards."
One sees all children as clothing: the blue blouse --
the green dress -- the tight-fitting T-shirt.

One will take home for homework each of the
twenty, the thirty, the forty one.

from In Montgomery and Other Poems 2003. 

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