Poetry Friday: Welcome to the Roundup

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup! I have been looking forward to hosting for the first time. I’ve collecting poetry morsels to share like this discussion of Poetry in Politics from the New York Times or Vision and Verse–a compilation of photography and poetry, also from the the New York Times. But once again the events of our country have intruded on most of my waking thoughts and even my dreams.

I turned to poetry this past week to help me process the events of last weekend in Charlottesville, where it seemed that hatred and bigotry are poised to make a comeback. While I knew that white supremacist groups and their ideology of fear and terror and oppression have never completely gone away, I didn’t think I would see the day when they marched openly and brazenly through the streets.

I looked for my collection of poems This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort (collected by Georgia Heart for children in lower Manhattan after 9-11), but it seems I’ve given my copy away–hopefully to someone who needed the comfort offered in its poetry.

I knew I wanted to write as well as read poetry, but I couldn’t begin to find the words. So I started with someone else’s words. I was looking for a structure to help me give voice to my outrage and offer healing from the violence and hatred.

First I turned to a news story in our local paper. Instead of writing a found poem as I’ve done before, I tried writing a blackout poem. (Thank you, Christie, for sharing your experiences with blackout poetry last week. Click on her post to find out more.) Here is my first poem:

Still looking for poems of comfort, I turned to What Have You Lost? Naomi Shihab Nye collected these poems, all on the theme of loss. Since our country lost much over the weekend, I thought some of these would resonate. I was still struggling to give words to my thoughts and hoped I would find a mentor text to use as a model. I did find such a poem with “On the Suicide of a Young Boy I Did Not Know” by Jennifer Weinblatt. The poem begins

What do I do with this grief
that is not mine, this story
that is not a story but a real
life abruptly gone? What do I do…

You can read the rest of the poem here.

I connected with the sense of questioning, of not knowing what to do. Here s what I wrote in response.

On the Rise of Hatred I Do Not Understand

What do I do with this hatred
that is not mine, this story
that is not a dystopian nightmare
but the real history we are living now?
What do I do with the acrid smoke
streaming from blazing tiki torches
held against a dark sky, swatiskas
unfurling on Nazi flags,
chants echoing hate passed down
year to year like worn-out clothes
passed down child to child?
Hate filled-slogans explode
as bodies flinch under pummeling fists
and a car plows into people.
What can I do to stem the flood
of hatred rising, swirling
through our communities?
Meeting hatred and violence with even righteous
anger fuels the conflagration hotter, higher.
Turning away in silence
implies consent I refuse to give.
My faith tells me to speak out
in love, but how do you love
someone who chooses hate?

It is a small step, one of several I have taken this week, along with attending a rally on Sunday, speaking out in conversations with friends and family. I will keep taking steps until such hatred and bigotry is no more. If you are looking for ways to speak out and take steps against white supremacy, I found the steps in this toolkit to be helpful: A Five-Step Toolkit for Dealing with White Supremacists in the Age of Trump.

Leave your link below:

59 Comments on Poetry Friday: Welcome to the Roundup

  1. Joyce Ray
    August 21, 2017 at 6:45 pm (5 years ago)

    Your heartfelt poem expresses what so many of us now feel – “but how do you love someone who chooses hate?” Thank you for addressing what now consumes our minds in this post. I read the Ms. article on defusing a bullying situation. It’s good practical advice. I honestly admit it would be difficult for me to step into a public situation by myself. I hope I would find the courage if I needed to. Perhaps I can make a start by standing up for my beliefs more in conversation with folks I know.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 23, 2017 at 9:04 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Joyce. Like you, I struggle to speak out–especially in a public situation that requires confrontation. I am slowly building my courage. Sometimes I think it’s harder to speak up with people I know than with strangers.

      Reply
  2. Catherine @ Reading to the Core
    August 20, 2017 at 6:01 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you, Kay, for hosting this week and for this thoughtful post. This Place I Know is one of my favorite collections and I’ve turned to it often this year. Your poem and Jennifer Weinblatt’s “On the Suicide of a Young Boy I Did Not Know” took my breath away.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Catherine. Yes, Weinblatt’s poem packs a punch. I may have to replace my copy of Poems of Comfort.

      Reply
  3. Mary Lee Hahn
    August 19, 2017 at 7:32 am (5 years ago)

    I, too, left a link without reading and commenting, and I’m back to say thank you for your thoughtful post. We must hold each other up in these times; speak out for love in these times; build a culture of acceptance and compassion in our classrooms that we can only hope our children will carry in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

    Thanks for hosting the roundup!

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 19, 2017 at 9:20 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Mary Lee. Together, I do believe we can create a culture of acceptance and compassion in our classrooms and communities.

      Reply
  4. Julie
    August 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi, Kay – Sorry to be so late in the day with my link! I wasn’t going to post this week, but then I saw that no one had shared Sherman Alexie’s interesting new poem titled HYMN, so decided to post it. Thanks for being in charge of the round-up today.

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm (5 years ago)

      P.S. Both you and Alexie were focused on the same topic!

      Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 9:38 pm (5 years ago)

      I’m glad you made it after all, Julie. I’m looking forward to reading Alexie’s poem.

      Reply
  5. Violet N.
    August 18, 2017 at 5:42 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi Kay, I left my link here yesterday without commenting but I’m glad I came back to read what you posted. All this hate and racism is ghastly, isn’t it? Your poem gives voice to what many feel and are asking. Thanks for writing it–and for hosting today.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 6:52 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Violet. I’m glad my poems connected with you. I hope we can find a way to overcome the hate together.

      Reply
  6. Molly Hogan
    August 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you so much for hosting and for sharing your powerful, moving poem. I’m definitely going to check out that toolkit as well.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 6:51 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Molly. I hope you find the toolkit helpful

      Reply
  7. Carmela Martino
    August 18, 2017 at 11:03 am (5 years ago)

    Your poem On the Rise of Hatred is so poignant. Thanks so much for sharing it, and for hosting today.
    I look forward more of today’s poems. My post includes my first published poem, as part of our TeachingAuthors series about our early writing efforts.
    http://www.teachingauthors.com/2017/08/my-earliest-writing.html

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:29 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Carmela. Congratulations on your first poem publication! I’m looking forward to reading it.

      Reply
  8. Jane @ Raincity Librarian
    August 18, 2017 at 10:55 am (5 years ago)

    While America seems to be in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons right now, hopefully the events of the past few days will encourage everyone around the world to take a hard look at themselves, their actions and their beliefs. I know that this kind of hatred exists in my own country, too. Sadly this kind of hatred is not an American speciality, and we can all benefit from the lessons we’re learning in these hard times, this wake up call to action.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:29 am (5 years ago)

      I’m afraid this hatred is a human problem–not limited to any one country or group. I hope that people are willing to pause and learn from these recent events.

      Reply
  9. Little Willow
    August 18, 2017 at 10:22 am (5 years ago)

    Be strong. Be safe. Be well.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:28 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Little Willow. May you, too, be strong, safe and well.

      Reply
  10. Ruth (thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com)
    August 18, 2017 at 9:44 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for hosting! I just left my link, and I’ll be back later today to read everyone else’s! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:27 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Ruth! I look forward to reading your poetry this week.

      Reply
  11. Heidi Mordhorst
    August 18, 2017 at 8:45 am (5 years ago)

    Kay, thanks for hosting and for sharing both poems (the suicide one and yours rocked me a bit this morning). I loved arriving at Ms. magazine, and I’ll be sharing the toolkit widely.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:27 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Heidi. Share the toolkit! The more we can learn about ways to deescalate hate-filled and angry situations, the better the world will be.

      Reply
  12. Irene Latham
    August 18, 2017 at 7:09 am (5 years ago)

    Kay, thanks so much for this post and for hosting Roundup! Your poem is powerful, and I love the mentor poem as well. One way to combat hate is with LOVE. Show others how to love. Some people –sometimes through no fault of their own –just don’t know how. We can change the world by modeling compassion and kindness and by helping bring to light the stories of the oppressed. And poetry! Always always poetry.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:26 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Irene. I agree that LOVE is the answer to combating hatred. I’m sometimes at a loss as to how, so I remind myself to start small with the corner of the world that I’m in. One other thing I am doing is applying to mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

      Reply
  13. Margaret Simon
    August 18, 2017 at 6:56 am (5 years ago)

    The questioning poem form works well for this time full of questions. We are all so hurt and fearful of the direction this leader seems to be taking us in. I don’t know what to do either, but I am being braver about speaking up. Thanks for hosting and sharing.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:24 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Margaret. The questions echoed what was in my mind and heart this week. Together, we can find courage to speak up and make a difference.

      Reply
  14. Christie Wyman
    August 18, 2017 at 6:52 am (5 years ago)

    Kay — Several times this week I’ve found solace from the chaos that surrounds us in poetry. I’m thrilled that you played around with a bit of blackout poetry, too. It can be a great challenge, but so satisfying when it all comes together. Wishing you a week of peace. Many thanks for the shout-out. — Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:22 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Christie. Your post last week came at the perfect time to help me find words. May you also have a week of peace.

      Reply
  15. Alan j Wright
    August 18, 2017 at 12:31 am (5 years ago)

    Poets react. Poets respond. Across time poet’s voices have been raised to challenge and confront injustice and hate. It is a compelling motivation. In a thoughtful and considered way you have sought to do just that in your poetic works. I applaud your efforts and challenging all of us to consider the ethical dilemma that hate presents. Thank you for hosting Kay and thank you also for chipping away at ignorance with your thought provoking poetry.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:22 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Alan. I am honored that you consider my post in such good company of poets. I am trying.

      Reply
  16. Rebecca Herzog
    August 18, 2017 at 12:07 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you for hosting, and thank you for your beautiful poem. It is packed with so much truth. More compassion and empathy is the answer, but it can be so hard with such insidious hatred exists. And it is passed down from child to child, which is horrifying in its own right. But also hopeful because we have an opportunity to pass along that compassion and empathy to the future generations. Thank you again for your beautiful words.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:21 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Rebecca. I love the reminder that we can pass down compassion and empathy to future generations as well. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that in the onslaught of news, but I know of many cases where the younger generation is surpassing us in this way.

      Reply
  17. Buffy Silverman
    August 17, 2017 at 10:36 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks for hosting, Kay. I think many of us are struggling with that sense of not knowing what to do. You have expressed that so thoughtfully in your poem.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:19 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Buffy. I know I’m struggling, but writing (and reading) about it helps to find a way through.

      Reply
  18. Robyn Hood Black
    August 17, 2017 at 10:28 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks so much for hosting, Kay, and tackling such important issues your first time rounding up! I appreciate all your sharings, poetic and otherwise. I’m on a similar wavelength this week. (And thanks for the toolkit link – some great tips, some of which I’ve heard from people who work with folks in unpredictable, tense situations.)

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:19 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Robyn. I’m glad you find the toolkit helpful. I thought the ideas were something I could do–and I appreciate the specific examples given, too.

      Reply
  19. Carol Varsalona
    August 17, 2017 at 9:10 pm (5 years ago)

    Kay, your heart opened as it has been for months. your voice poured out through poetry. Thank you for sharing your feelings in a well-developed post. So many of us feel the hatred that is seeping through the country. Today, I sent my Kindness Dove image that I created across Twitter asking connected colleagues to keep the message Kindness Matters front and center. Thanks for hosting. I will post my PF offering soon.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:18 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Carol. We do need to keep kindness front and center. Kindness and love will be what ultimately overcomes the evil of hatred.

      Reply
  20. Laura Purdie Salas
    August 17, 2017 at 9:03 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you, Kay, for hosting and for this thoughtful post. Your response poem really spoke to me, and I especially thought this lines “echoing hate passed down/ year to year like worn-out clothes/ passed down child to child?” were visceral.

    I struggle to speak out, because that’s just not who I am, generally. And because I’m surrounded by speaker-outers all day, it seems, and I’m overwhelmed–though I totally agree with the need to speak out! I am trying to find my own way and will check out the toolkit link. I just bought some peace beads to add to my supply of safety pins. I was wearing safety pins back around the election, and I want to start again, but with a more universal visual symbol, too. Anyway, thank you for this space to think a little bit! Poetry heals.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:17 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you. Laura. Like you, I also struggle to speak out–I don’t like confrontation at all, but I’m looking for ways to find courage to speak out while still being true to myself. I find myself reading a lot and listening and trying to understand.

      Reply
  21. Tabatha
    August 17, 2017 at 9:03 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks for hosting, Kay! I was thinking about poems of comfort this week, too. “On the suicide…” packs a punch, doesn’t it? I can see why you would use that as a mentor poem. “Meeting hatred and violence with even righteous/anger fuels the conflagration hotter, higher.” Very true. Figuring out how to put out the conflagration is a tough but worthy goal.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:15 am (5 years ago)

      Welcome, Tabatha! It does pack a punch–maybe not so much comfort but a way to process things I don’t understand. I believe that many of us will keep working to find a way to put out the conflagration.

      Reply
  22. Jan Annino
    August 17, 2017 at 9:02 pm (5 years ago)

    Appreciations for your potent poetry & thoughts about the horrific matters at hand. It is good to be in community here with Poetry Friday thinkers & feelers.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 18, 2017 at 11:14 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Jan. I do appreciate this community that values thinking and feeling deeply.

      Reply
  23. Matt Forrest Esenwine
    August 17, 2017 at 8:20 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing both of these, Kay…we need this type of thoughtfulness and perspective now more than ever. (By the way, my post doesn’t go live until just after midnight) Thanks for hosting!

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 17, 2017 at 8:50 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Matt. I look forward to reading your post tomorrow. I won’t make it up to midnight tonight (or any night).

      Reply
  24. KatApel
    August 17, 2017 at 7:25 pm (5 years ago)

    Kay, both your poems are beautiful, not just in their words but in their voice and heart. Kindness and love are what our world needs – not more voices shouting anger into the fray. Continue to love – though it breaks your heart.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 17, 2017 at 7:34 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Kat. I will continue to love–there is no other way. I also take hope from the love felt at the rally I went to Sunday. There is much love in our communities that outweighs the hate.

      Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 17, 2017 at 7:33 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you. The violence is heartbreaking. I keep reminding myself that we as a country have come through worse, and we will come through this time, too, hopefully stronger and better.

      Reply
  25. keri
    August 17, 2017 at 6:34 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing your heart and your process — giving us some footsteps to follow as we face each day. Thanks also for hosting!

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 17, 2017 at 6:43 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m grateful for the community that welcomes my thoughts and gives me a place to share them.

      Reply
  26. Brenda Harsham
    August 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks for this thoughtful post that meets the news of the day head on. I don’t understand the hatred either, except perhaps as subliminated fear. Or a blaming of a group rather than taking personal responsibility for things wrong in the world. If another group is at fault, then you don’t have to act to fix anything or give of yourself to make the world better. I find my weekly connection to PF helps validate my world view that the world is populated by rational, relatable people who act for the general good if given the right opportunities. This week my post focuses on a person whose whole life is devoted to the good and beautiful.

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 17, 2017 at 6:27 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Brenda. I suspect fear underlies much of the hatred we see–fear of things people don’t understand, fear of change. I look forward to reading your post–it sounds inspiring. I have to agree that this PF community helps me keep my sanity.

      Reply
  27. Linda
    August 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm (5 years ago)

    What a rich post. Thank you for the thoughtful contributions including original poetry. I love that you found a response. Some days I wonder how far we have come as a species….it seems that history is loaded with examples of steps forward and back. I don’t like being back. I’d like to be part of moving forward. I feel like I am by participating here this week. https://awordedgewiselindamitchell.blogspot.com/

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 17, 2017 at 4:03 pm (5 years ago)

      Linda, I wonder about our species, too, somedays, but then I take heart when I read about the sheer number of rallies and observances (with multitudes of people) who took a stand against hatred on Sunday. We will keep moving forward.

      Reply
  28. Michelle Kogan
    August 17, 2017 at 3:29 pm (5 years ago)

    Kay, thanks for both of these poems, both heart wrenching but needing to be heard, and repeated, and acted on! I’ve also posted on the events of this last week, if ever a wake up call has been rung this one needs our immediate and ongoing attention and action. The Five-Step Toolkit is wonderful, thanks for sharing that too!

    Reply
    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 17, 2017 at 4:04 pm (5 years ago)

      Michelle, I am hopeful that it is a wakeup call. I take heart from the number of people–on both sides of the political spectrum–who are speaking out. Doesn’t the toolkit have good ideas? I hope I don’t have to confront such a situation, but even more I want to be prepared if needed.

      Reply

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