I think I’ve mentioned this book before on @tomboypress instagram before, but instead of giving just mini-reviews there I am revisiting them and allowing the books a ramble here. This lil’ number today is an anthology of 50 poems edited by Amit Majmudar, and all poems are, funnily enough, about RESISTANCE, REBELLION AND LIFE!!!!!
The poems are all by modern day poets, and mainly American, I think, given that that’s where this book was published- so, none of Shelley or Yeats’ sticking it to the man in here. But the lack of a traditional canon does not at all mean these poems are deficient in timeless themes; the feelings of struggle for a better life will always be earthly, whether you were born as a slug in the tudor times or a human in the 19th century. The point of any life is to keep living, and hopefully without struggle. The main themes, though, if I had to be specific would be these: borders, racism, awareness/perspective (of history/the world) and discontent.
Majmudar has also included an introduction on truth, and what it is. Considering that one of the main goals of poetry is to reveal a ‘truth’ (truths if you’re like me, and believe that ‘truth’ as a singular over-arching concept to define reality is bullshit and lazy and exclusive to those whose lifes don’t match that ‘truth’- BUT ANYWAYS!!!) this introduction’s subject matter is spot on. And, with today being flooded with conspiracies and fake-news; just general avoidance of actually being responsible towards helping those who need it, I think Majmudar has chosen a very relavent, in dispute subject. He explores whether poetry is always necessarily for good (because the definitions of what is to be praised VS villified are pretty much always in flux), using the example of Joseph Stalin being a poet to explore where poetry can take us from what it inspires; and whether truth is ever ‘found’, or only ever made from people’s opinions. I have probably missed out other really ‘juicy’ bits (i cringe and hate it when people say this, it reminds me of my history teacher who used to say ‘juicy nuggets’ when refering to informative points in history reading but all it made me think of was chicken nuggets ahah), BUT THATS WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK TO FIND OUT MORE!!!!
There are so many memorable images the poems I love in here present; from the death of Captain America, to a border police officer scouting deserts and mothers protecting their children. HOWEVER, there is one specifically I want to mention. It is ‘This Beautiful Bubble’ by Vincent Katz. The bubble he is talking about is one we all have to walk within when we go out into the carnage of human life, and he sets this bubble of personal privacy set upon by other eyes in the subway. Maybe it’s just because I am too curious, but one of my favourite things to do on the tube is to people watch. Try and guess where people are going, and why- who they are going to see and how long for? If it’s a job, do they like it? Did they choose it? Do they go home to a dog, or a cat, or a partner or a friend at the end of the day? Do they hate the tube as much as me? I think the poem is basically about the beginning of love being curiosity- simply caring about strangers means you don’t just exist in a selfish bubble that no other human is allowed to pop. I think it’s wierd now how people feel ashamed, almost guilty when they catch the eyes of strangers in packed train carridges. We are all human, all pissed off and tired, and the least we can do for each other is smile when someone looks our way- not make them feel like they’ve just walked in on us doing something unspeakable.
OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO RESPECT PEOPLES PRIVATE SPACE!!! aha If someone looks visibly upset, of course ask what’s up but if they ask for privacy you gotta give it to them! And equally, you have to protect your own private space- you have to screen people before you properly love them, because who knows what crazies there are out there. SO, I think Katz is trying to say you have to respect the individual, irreplaceable private view you have on the world before you can expand this, and try to invite other people to visit you inside you inside your bubble!
We all know the world is full of suffering, and suffering is boundless and varied in who and how it choses to wreak its havoc. If you pop that bubble for just one moment, consider who is on the outside of it- then, maybe you won’t just want to imagine about other people’s lives, you’ll want to get involved in how to make that life as wonderful as possible.
I feel like I sound like a church preacher right now which is not the life for me, no offense to any religious people/leaders, but I am too naughty to follow anyones rules ahah I CAN’T EVEN FOLLOW MY OWN! But I hope you’ll try to find the book to seek this poem out, and of course to enjoy the other selected authors inside!!! For now, I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote from Katz (I’ll post the whole poem on @mollygbeale on instagram if you want to see the whole thing, it’s just rather long to type out on here haha) !!! Have a good day, and I hope you find the courage to be rebellious and smile at a stranger who catches your eye next time you’re in with crowds! XOXOXO