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DAY 1553 Prompt-- March 19, 2018
Prompt: The Polish poet Adam Zagajewski said that in his country, “poetry killed communism.” Do you think poets can be the forerunners of social change, and if so, how are they managing to bring such revolutions about?
I have never been a poet, even my most lyrical prose would not qualify as poetry however some of my favorite literary works are, in fact, poems. There is this incredible power in words and nothing seeks to reveal that better than a well-versed poem or passionate piece of spoken word. I believe people read poetry with a higher level of attention, a type of reverence that gives poets a unique platform to influence public opinion, raise awareness and even bring about social change. This feels particularly true of female poets who use poetry not simply as form of artful expression but as a rebellion. In some places in the world where women do not have a voice, their words are a brave act of defiance. Throughout history and all over the world, female poets lend their voices and tell their stories and people listen.
They craft their poetry from war torn countries and their words provide the narrative for the haunting images of dirty, bloodied children of a brutal conflict.
An excerpt from Najat Abdul Samad's poem, "When I am Overcome by Weakness"
"I bandage it with the steadiness of a child’s steps in the snow of a refugee camp, a child wearing a small black shoe on one foot and a large blue sandal on the other, wandering off and singing to butterflies flying in the sunny skies, butterflies and skies seen only by his eyes."
Their words testify to the struggle of being female, of being a minority in a country that comes painfully slow to change.
Maya Angelou's "I Rise", is story about the pain of the past, the challenge to find one's place in a world that is often hostile and unforgiving. Her refrain, however, is one of hope and victory and easily lends itself to becoming an empowering mantra for all those who are opposed and oppressed in this world.
"Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
In my opinion, female poets are better than most at taking a moment in history and shining a stark, unforgiving light on it. I think Halsey's poem, "A Story Like Mine", serves as a brutal examination of the reality behind the #metoo movement. It is a testimony but also a call to action.
"What do you mean, this happened to me? I'm supposed to be safe now. I earned it. It's 2018, and I've realized that nobody is safe 'long as she is alive, and every friend that I know has a story like mine, and the world tells me we should take it as a compliment.
It's Olympians and a medical resident and not one f*cking word from the man who is president. It's about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos, from the Hollywood Hills to the projects and ghettos … Listen, and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues." An Excerpt from "A Story Like Mine" by Halsey
All great revolutions that spawn true social changes have many champions and I believe that brave and powerful female poets number among them.
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DAY 1950: March 19, 2018
Prompt: It's Motivational Monday, write about some good news that motivates or inspires you in your life, your town, your state, your country, or go to Good News Network or some other website and share some good news that interest you.
Some days I am harder pressed to find good news in the daily fodder of this twenty-first century life. I'm pleased to learn there is a "Good News Network", a positive collective that exists to catalog the stories not often given airtime or ink. I am encouraged by the stories of efforts to clean garbage and debris from the Galapagos beaches and marine reserves and the company converting cigarette butts into useful, recycled materials. Even thought these stories might not get the international attention they deserve, it gives me hope to know they are out there, doing something to combat the abuses we inflict on our planet and its resources.
I think its important to find hope in the victories, even the ones that might seem to measure small on a global scale like the successful conversion of indigenous Indonesian's from manta hunters to manta rangers. The dedicated efforts by conservationists and marine scientists and the willingness of the people to listen has pulled a magnificent animal back from the brink of extinction. Indonesia has managed to learn what so many other countries fail to see, that a resource might actually be worth more when protected and conserved. Their manta industry has successfully converted from a dwindling, depleted consumption-based system to a wholly sustainable eco-tourist economy. In at least one corner of the world, people have come together to solve a problem and improve, not only their individual well-being but the conservation of a species and its place in the world's oceans. Recently Indonesia proudly declared itself the world's largest manta sanctuary, good news for the manta and good news for us.