Friday, December 9, 2016

Artists & Crisis

Hello friends, it's been over a month since my last post, and I'm sorry for the radio silence. And yet, it's only been a month, but somehow it feels like I am living in a different world today than I was then.

In the past month, America has elected a truly unqualified and wholly incompetent man to run our country. I am terrified, to say the least.

The last four weeks have been filled with despair, confusion, fear. I know that I am educated, skilled, privileged, and compassionate, and yet, I am finding it hard to figure out the best way to move forward. As a writer, as an artist, as a woman. As an environmentalist, as a potential mother, as an open-hearted person.

There is much work to do, but where to start? There is power in the written word, but right now, the anxiety and rage that I feel make sitting at my desk hard. I want to be out in the streets. I want to rage. I want to pray. I want to demand justice. I want to enact change.

I make phone calls to my representatives, and find myself waiting endlessly for my call to be answered. I sign petitions and donate money. I read articles, educate myself, and share the knowledge with others. I ask my brilliant friends what they are doing, how they are moving forward. I try not to feel helpless.

I ask myself - what place does poetry have in all of this? What role does art play in the revolution?

I am not alone with these questions. Poet Matthew Zapruder writes in his Lithub article, "Poetry and Poets in a Time of Crisis":

This wandering, though, is not a mere luxury or privilege. It has an essential purpose. In Wallace Stevens’s essay “The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words,” he makes the argument that poetry is a place where we can preserve our imaginations, and resist the “pressure of the real,” that is, the incessant drumming in of information, of news, of terrible events and realities. If we do not do so, he argues, we lose something essential to our humanity: our imagination.

The world on November 8th was a vastly different world than the one we woke up to on the 9th. The plans that I had before the 8th no longer seem relevant. This event has shaken a great many people across the country, and the world. It's easy to get overwhelmed by everything, especially when the situation seems to get worse by the minute.

As artists, we are sensitive to the pervading energies that swirl around us. We cannot help this. In fact, our sensitive nature is what makes it possible for us to do the important work of making meaningful art. So be kind to yourself during this dark time. That's what I'm trying to do. As uncomfortable as it is, I am trying to accept the uncertainty. I do not have all the answers. I do not feel like a walking beam of light, full of earnest and eager possibility. I am afraid. I am confused. I feel unmoored, lost. And that's okay. Eventually, I will figure out how to use my energy and skills to make positive change. And you will, too. But for now, take good care.