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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Kenneth Carroll

September 23, 2010 ·

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.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Jody Bolz

July 28, 2010 ·

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

Mutanabi Street

 In March 2007, a car bomb exploded in the heart of Baghdad’s centuries-old literary center, igniting bookstores and stationery shops.
                                   

Pages flit above the ruined bookstalls.
Blank or dark with words, it doesn’t matter:

paper is as dangerous as ink — as thought.
And as for the student who was reading

in a dim café, the old men buying envelopes
across the lane, flames turned them to light,

then ash, with chemical indifference.
War tossed a match and stayed to watch

the old block burn — journals, histories,
novels, verse, dictionaries, textbooks,

anatomy primers with charts of the body
like maps of a familiar country — shops on fire

with what’s been written and what hasn’t:
the script in which mercy might repeat itself.

Jody Bolz

Used by permission.

Jody Bolz is the author of A Lesson in Narrative Time. Her poems have appeared widely in literary magazines--The American Scholar, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry East among them--and in many anthologies. She taught creative writing for more than 20 years at George Washington University, and in 2002 became an executive editor of Poet Lore, America's oldest poetry journal, founded in 1889.

Bolz appeared on the panel What Makes for Effective Political Poetry: Editors' Perspectives with Poet Lore co-editor E. Ethelbert Miller during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Protesters Speak Out Against U.S. Support for Ethiopian Government

June 18, 2010 ·

protestersNearly 200 protesters gathered in front of the White House on the afternoon of June 14 to denounce continued U.S. support for Ethiopia’s incumbent regime. Chanting in native Amharic and rallying around the Ethiopian flag, the crowd members were predominantly from DC’s sizable Ethiopian diaspora.

On May 23, Ethiopia held its fourth national election since transitioning to democracy in 1993. The transition away from dictatorship seems incomplete, however, when all four election have reelected President Meles Zenawi and his monolithic EPRDF party by landslide majorities. This year’s officially reported win margin was 99.6% vote for Zenawi, representing the government’s repression of opposition, use of voter intimidation, and rejection of election monitors. This is a significant regression in democratic governance since the last election Ethiopia held in 2005.

The protesters reacted strongly to this regression, calling on the U.S. to change its foreign policy and aid practices, which currently help prop up Zenawi’s regime. Ethiopia receives the third largest amount of foreign aid from the U.S. after Israel and Egypt, receiving $862 million in foreign assistance in 2009. This inundation of aid and diplomatic silence by the U.S. is projected to be because Ethiopia is such valuable U.S. ally in the volatile horn of Africa and in the War on Terror.

But Ethiopians, both in the Horn of Africa and in the U.S. diaspora, are enraged that the U.S. is prioritizing the stability and anti-terrorism policies of their corrupt despot, Zenawi, over encouraging free and fair elections.

The State Department’s assistant press secretary has remained markedly vague and diplomatic, promising, "We will work diligently with Ethiopia to ensure that strengthened democratic institutions and open political dialogue become a reality for the Ethiopian people."

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Randall Horton

June 10, 2010 ·

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

Note from a Prodigal Son III

The gavel
The splintered body
The red-neck guards
The state dungarees
The grey cinder block
The naked shower
The elemental fear
The unspoken yoke
The mercy plea
The awakening
The trembling hands
The walk to chow
The razor fence
The barrel’s scope
The Rottweiler’s teeth
The hesitation
The guttural pain
The calls refused
The return to sender
The rivulet of tears
The frozen heart
The opaque night
The seclusion
The muffled screams
The masturbation
The silence

-Randall Horton

Published in The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street (Main Street Rag, 2009). Used by permission.

Randall Horton, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, resides in New Haven, CT and is a former recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize. He is the author of the poetry collections The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street and The Definition of Place, both from Main Street Rag. He is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Haven and the poetry editor of Willow Books.

Horton appeared on the panel Dissidence, Memory, and Music in African American Poetry during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Arkansas and America's Future Now

June 8, 2010 ·

I'm spending the time I can spare while not editing OtherWords' upcoming commentaries at America's Future Now, which runs through Wednesday. This annual progressive summit fittingly coincides this year with Arkansas' Democratic primary runoff. Speaker after speaker bemoaned the Obama administration's timidity and called on the Democratic-controlled Congress to become more unified and assertive. "We have to stop waiting for Obama," said Bob Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America's Future, which organizes this massive Washington gathering. "We have to stop taking the President's temperature."

The heated battle between incumbent Blanche Lincoln, backed by former President Bill Clinton and mounds of corporate money, and challenger Lt. Gov. Bill Halter may be the first of many. Lincoln has loudly protested the support that Halter's gotten from organized labor, yet he's gotten only seven percent of his campaign contributions from PACs, vs. 38% for Lincoln. Watch developments in this race on the Daily Kos blog as Arkansas voters go to the polls today. "We need to go to the mat for the real deal," is how Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn.org's campaign director put it. "We're going to take the imposters out."

So many influential progressives are publicly venting their frustration with the Obama administration at this conference that prominent media outlets are finally noticing this hardly new trend. Good examples include Politico's Glenn Thrush and Philip Rucker at the Washington Post. This strikes me as a good thing. I've attended this conference, formerly known as Take Back America, off and on for seven years, and often seen major media outlets give this key conference short shrift—focusing on comments made by political candidates and politicians at the expense of reporting the pulse of progressive America.

Twitter fans can follow the debate with the #AFN hashtag. Even if you're not big on Twitter, check out the top tweets from the conference's first day on Campaign for America's Future website.

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