Love-Wielding its Power (7 Minute Reads)

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  4. Love-Wielding its Power (7 Minute Reads)

And poems are where I go for that.

Why would you say that thing? How could you commit that evil? Tippett: I feel like you are a natural-born conversationalist. Tippett: And you were also a speechwriter for the mayor of New Orleans, is that right? So I was trying to figure out, how do I focus this? And I found this interview you did in the Kenyon Review. Do you remember this? And they had asked you at the end — they wanted to talk about what would your credo be; what core beliefs do you have about literature and books.

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Every poem is a political poem, so say the masters. Every love poem is political. Every political poem must fall in love. Tippett: [ laughs ] No, tell us — take us inside this very big thought. If you are really good at hurting black people, you will indeed hurt the environment, I promise you. Do you understand what I mean? And I think, if we could just love each other a little more, whole, we all would be a lot better off. Brown: Yes, yes, and being honest about those things. People keep looking for this pure poetry, and people have these questions about the political in poems, as if poems were ever not political.

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And from that point on, poems ask us to find a place where we can absolutely rupture within ourselves. And you have to take all of history and bring it down to one — one individual, one self — in order to do that. Today, with the poet Jericho Brown. Brown: You want me to read it? You are asking me to read it.

You were gonna ask me about it? And then you can tell me. This is exciting. When all he really means is to grab me by the chin And, like God the Father, say through clenched teeth,. Tippett: You mean, right now, for the first time in your life, right here, with all of us as witnesses? Brown: There are things in books that — putting something in a book is very different from reading it in front of people. But I feel really good about this, though. The poems, the work you do has to have access to all of your life. Get you some. But the book, in many ways, is about rape and sexual coercion and — which was, while I was writing it, what I knew I was supposed to be doing.

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And I think writing poems, for me, helped transform my feeling about a lot of stuff. So I think this is really good practice, for me to read this stuff that you have me reading. Were you already writing about it, before it was …. And so, it came. And then this other book kept being about this thing, this idea that I have about Greek myth and about western civilization and about the murder of black bodies for absolutely no reason by police.

And all of those things have to do — all of that encroaching is like a kind of rape. And in order for me to understand that kind of rape, I had to make it real and literal.

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I was crying and stuff, but I got through it. But whenever I write a book, I find that there are people in the world who needed it. Something you just said a minute ago, I just want to — I want to just underline that — that you are releasing this book in this moment where this whole matter of sexuality and rape and the spectrum of what leads to that is out in public; and my personal feeling is that we just scratched the surface. We reckon with it in public in these really imperfect, flawed situations. We know what it is — what the answer is in the workplace. We know what the answer is in the law.

What is the real answer in a community? And we have poetry communities where not-so-great things happen to women. So what do we do? And so I wanted to write poems that got at trying to figure that out for myself. Tippett: After a short break, more with Jericho Brown. And you can find this show again in three of our libraries at onbeing.

We created libraries from our year archive for browsing or deep diving by theme — for teaching and reflection and conversation. Find this and an abundance of more at onbeing. Today, experiencing the poet Jericho Brown at the Geraldine R. I remember, I was in church one time — I think I was 10 or 11 years old, and I had just started wearing glasses. And anything that was three digits was not happening. We were just blind.

So I had these glasses, and I was all excited because I could see. I know. And they broke. Tippett: Right. Tippett: Do you have an example, or a story, of what was happening in a poem surprising you? This could also be serious. It was in TIME magazine. I sent her the TIME magazine. She was very happy.

She told me I could have whatever I worked for. That means she was an American. I am ashamed of America And confounded by God.

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I thank God for my citizenship in spite Of the timer set on my life to write These words: I love my mother. I love black women Who plant flowers as sheepish as their sons.

By the time the blooms Unfurl themselves for a few hours of light, the women who tend them Are already at work. A house? A boy To keep the lawn cut? Some color in the yard? My God, we leave things green. And it was the most emotional thing for me, and it was a huge surprise to me, to get to a moment where that was indeed the next thing. The thing the poem needed was a truth.

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Love-Wielding its Power (7 Minute Reads)

And it seems a small truth. So I like that. I do this in several ways. I write the next line after that, which sounds something like that line. If you listen to Trump supporters who are evangelical and non-evangelicals, like the radio talk-show host Mark Levin , you will hear adjectives applied to those on the left that could easily be used to describe a Stalinist regime. Ask yourself how many evangelicals have publicly criticized Trump for his lavish praise of Kim Jong Un, the leader of perhaps the most savage regime in the world and the worst persecutor of Christians in the world.

Many white evangelical Christians, then, are deeply fearful of what a Trump loss would mean for America, American culture, and American Christianity. If a Democrat is elected president, they believe, it might all come crashing down around us. The only time we faced an existential struggle like this was in the Civil War and in the Revolution when the nation began … We are on the verge of losing it as we could have lost it in the Civil War.

Many evangelical Christians are also filled with grievances and resentments because they feel they have been mocked, scorned, and dishonored by the elite culture over the years. Some of those feelings are understandable and warranted. For them, Trump is a man who will not only push their agenda on issues such as the courts and abortion; he will be ruthless against those they view as threats to all they know and love. Jerry Falwell Jr.