{look for title at the end of post}

What a privilege it is to write and to teach writing.

I'm sitting here in my pale green bedroom with candles lit looking at my syllabus and the dozens of poetry collections that clutter my bed. Can you tell that I'm in heaven? Few things excite me more than a discussion about why certain words of a poem, that have been put together just so, are damn near perfect.

And that's why I've been disappointed by recent discussions about the futility of language. According to this Slate article, David Foster Wallace was driven by this question. And the shooter last week in Tucson, Jared Loughner, wondered if words mattered. I don't have a problem with posing that question or exploring the answers, but I will never agree that words are meaningless. There's too much evidence that words matter--a whole lot. Look at the recent rewriting of Huckleberry Finn or the parts left out of the Constitution as it was read on the floor of Congress. Think about the times that someone's words made you cry or question what you believe. Language, like music, is one of the many ways that we connect spirit to spirit and mind to mind.

[I'm reading over what I just wrote. I'm noticing the biblical allusions from me, a very secular girl. This is because when I say I believe in language that belief is religious in nature. So let's go all the way. Let's title this "In the Beginning there was the Word."]

1 comment:

  1. It was a pleasure to attend the event at Changing Hands Bookstore yesterday evening. I enjoyed seeing a speckled glimpse of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s dream. The words read had me my spirit jumping out of my seat. The seat no longer could hold me down and I found it necessary to dance around the store listening to the beautiful voices that sang for justice. But, for some reason two poems that came to mind were Paul Laurence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" and "Minstrel Man" by Langston Hughes. Why?

    I am a immigrant to Phoenix, AZ from the great state of North Dakota. I came here on a jetplane that held Air Force Airmen destined to work for the "man" at Luke AFB. When I got off the plane I expected to be welcomed by a multicultural community. I was surprisingly disappointed on how unwelcoming people of color are here in Phoenix. If, you are a person of color that fails to fit the mold of what society has generously constructed for everyone to lie in you end up outcast. I suppose that is what James Baldwin was referring to when he frequently spoke of the artistic process of the "So-Called Negro" writer.

    I understand SB1070 and HB2013 are the most media visible and driven due to we live in a Arizona where the brown covers our desert. But, there are a number of other issues that impede the justic of people of color and the terms, "underdeveloped, underemployed, and mass incarceration" come to mind. The Black Male is in crisis and slowly dying. It is not only in South Phoenix. It is happening everywhere. America has no problem with tagging the black man "Dead Beats" and "Whodini," (no not the hip-hop group of the 80s) dissapearing when they have a responsibility to nuture the seed that grows from the womb to the streets. But, no one ever mentions where and why they have disappeared. Most black and brown males have been caught up in the "so-called justice system." They have been imprisoned due to many reasons, but the media fails to let community that their white brother was charged with the same crime and sentenced for less time. And the problem is black males are being incarcerated at a high rate and due the "underdevelopment" of the young black and brown brothers our community.

    "The Dream" can only come true when we confront the issues that the media feels unnecessary to spew on the television. How many times have you heard when a crime is a committed person of color being described as "black or mexican" versus a "white" person? I will answer the question, none because they, the media, don't mention the color of skin when its a "white" person.