Tag Archives: claudia rankine

Rules of Engagement

11 Feb

Thanks to the Baltimore Review for publishing my poem, Rules of Engagement in their Winter 2018 online issue! It will also appear in print in their annual magazine. I hope you take a minute to visit their site and read it! I am overjoyed that it has found a home.

In October 2016 I heard Claudia Rankine read from her book Citizen at the Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, NJ. This poem is the offspring of that experience—her work put me in touch with the feeling of helpless rage that I had long ago buried. I had to bring these experiences out of the silence of forget, and give myself the voice I was never allowed to have.

Reading Rules of Engagement at the Asbury Hotel

That’s me reading my fresh poem in my blue motorcycle jacket at the Hear Me Roar Open Mic at the Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park, NJ. October 23, 2016.

The night I wrote the poem, the last night of the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival, I went to the Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park to write. There just *happened* to be an open mike night there that night. I was writing furiously in my notebook my thoughts from the weekend, and the poem literally wrote itself into my notebook as a journal entry.

When I realized that people were getting up and reading poems – I looked at what I wrote and thought maybe I could put it into verses and do a sort of spoken word poem— i’d never done that before, but it had an undeniable rythym to it…

It took a lot of guts to ask the emcee for permission to read it, and then actually get up in a room full of strangers and read it. The beautiful Susan Rosenberg came over while I was there, and witnessed this whole thing happen. And she took a photo of me reading the very, very rough first draft of this poem. It was a huge turning point for me. I’d never written or even talked about this stuff ever before, let alone write a poem on the spot and read it to a room full of strangers.

 

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