Monday, October 06, 2008

the voice of no

The newest episode of PoemTalk is being released today. Elizabeth Willis, Julia Bloch, Jessica Lowenthal and I talk for about 25 minutes about Erica Hunt's marvelous poem, "The Voice of No," from her mid-90s book Arcade.

Erica is the executive director of the 21st Century Foundation. "In recent years, 21CF has taken a leadership role in promoting new models of Black philanthropy that support donors who want to develop the skills, commitment and imagination to address pressing issues impacting Black communities."

The poem ends with a horrible flood, to which the response from "us" (all of us, including the poem's speaker) is insufficient. The drowner is handed a ladder to paddle. The poem was written a decade before Katrina but since Erica and her foundation have been very involved in that and similar recoveries, we couldn't help but talk about the politics of nature during our PoemTalk session.

Go here for more on this PoemTalk. There you'll see a link to the text of the poem, to a recording of Hunt reading the poem, and to the PoemTalk discussion, of course.