10 July 2013

Juxtapositions



I read these words this morning, and now they're all in my head, chatting:

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Simply put, there is an unhealthy obsession among American law enforcement agencies (and American society at large) with stopping violence perpetrated by American Muslims, one that is wholly out of line with the numbers. There is no doubt that the events of 9/11 play into this — never mind that not one hijacker was American — but there is something much darker at work here as well. It’s the fear of a people, a culture, and a religion that most Americans do not understand and therefore see as alien and dangerous.

The fear of the “other” has wiggled its way into the core of another American generation.

—"US Law Enforcement Blatantly Ignores Right-Wing Extremists" by Matthew Harwood, Salon

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We live at a moment when the imagination is threatened. When its possibilities are administered. When we have learned to believe that to survive harm is enough, and, sometimes, more than enough. And, certainly, given the queer-killing imaginations and impulses that surround us, the insistence “I am here” seems more than enough and, often, too much.

When I think about what has stayed with me, fed me, nurtured me, enabled me, it’s not the histories I’ve read, the reports I’ve consumed, the many articles I dutifully read and cited, or the very smart things many brilliant people have written. I return to a small cluster of names: Essex Hemphill, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Melvin Dixon, James Baldwin. I return to poets and novelists, to people whose imaginations extended mine in unexpected and still surprising ways.

In the 1970s, every lesbian was a poet, so the story goes. Poetry, Lorde teaches me, “is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.”

—"Kenyan Queer Cultural Production (in a report era)" by Keguro Macharia, Gukira

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All those poems I wrote
About living in the sky
Were wrong. I live on a leaf
Of   a fern of   frost growing
Up your bedroom window
In forty below.

—James Galvin, "On First Seeing a U.S. Forest Service Aerial Photo of Where I Live", Poetry

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