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Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Kenneth Carroll

September 23, 2010 ·

A moment of verse, brought to you by the folks from Split This Rock Poetry Festival.

A weekly featured poem of provocation and witness. You can find more poetry and arts news from Blog This Rock.

A People's Historian

-for Howard Zinn

who will come to tell us what we know
that the king's clothes are soiled with
the history of our blood and sweat
 
who memorializes us when we have been vanquished
who recounts our moments of resistance, explicates
our struggles, sings of our sacrifices to those
unable to hear our song
 
who speaks of our triumphs, of how we
altered the course of a raging river of oppression
how we turned our love for each other into a
garrison of righteous rebellion
 
who shows us even in failure, when we
have been less than large, when our own
prejudices have been turned against us like
stolen weapons
 
who walks among us, willing to tell the truth
about the monster of lies, an eclipse that casts
a shadow dark enough to cover centuries 
 
what manner of man, of woman, of truth teller
roots around the muck of history, the word covered
in the mud of denial, the mythology of the conquerors 
 
let them be Zinn, let them sing to the people of history
let their song come slowly, on the periphery of canon
of history departments owned by corporate prevaricators
 
let their song be sung in small circles, furtive meetings
lonely readers, underground and under siege
their song, the seed crushed to earth, and growing
now a tree, with fruit, multiplying truth.

-Kenneth Carroll
Used by permission.

Kenneth Carroll is a native Washingtonian. His poetry, short stories, essays, and plays have appeared in Black Literature ForumIn Search Of Color Everywhere, Bum Rush The Page, and American Poetry: The Next Generation. His book of poetry, So What: For The White Dude Who Said This Ain't Poetry, was published in 1997 by Bunny & The Crocodile Press. He is executive director of DC WritersCorps and past president of the African American Writers Guild. He received a 2005 Literary Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, was nominated for a 2004 Pushcart Prize for Poetry, and received the Mayor's Arts Award for Service to the Arts. He was named one of WETA's Hometown Heroes in 2004.

Carroll was a featured poet at the inaugural Split This Rock Poetry Festival in March, 2008.

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