Dear Poetry Aficionados,Poetry & Poets in Rags blog
It's New Year's Day. All of humankind has progressed to 2013. And we begin Poetry & Poets in Rags today with yet another case on this orbiting planet of ours, in which free speech is being seriously impinged by government officials. The country this time is the United States of America. The perpetrators are school officials in the San Francisco Unified School District. Poet Courtni Webb has been suspended from school and is under review for expulsion from her senior year in high school for writing a poem.
This is a disgraceful violation of her Constitutional rights. She is due a public apology from all those concerned. One explanation for their actions against her is that she is black. The perpetrators of this constitutional crime ignorantly committed against Courtni Webb have earned a thorough investigation into whether their actions should be construed as racist. Or, as one Facebook responder says, "that'll teach 'em to think for themselves.'
This story is followed by what should have been our headliner, the Hellman/Hammett grants to 41 writers across the world "for their commitment to free expression and their courage in the face of persecution." This story in turn is followed by an update on the case of poet Muhammad al-Ajami, a Qatari poet jailed for writing a poem, this happening in a country where freedom of expression is supposedly okay, an ally of the USA. Can't we, in the supposed free world, through the case of Courtni Webb, understand some of how these other countries have slipped into being tyrannical?
Freshly knowing that the persecution of poets happens in the USA too, scroll down into our Great Regulars section, where you'll find Luisetta Mudie's article in which she notes the plight of jailed Chinese poet Zhu Yufu, whom prison officials refuse to even feed properly. It's a legal battle to stay alive in those prisons, even though they have laws against what the government administrators are inflicting on their (and our) poets.
Dozens more article on poetry this week---I should mention back in News at Eleven, you can click into reviews of books by long-time and legendary poets, Louise Glück, Penelope Shuttle, Lucille Clifton, John Ashbery---followed by articles on Victor Hugo and Benjamin Zephaniah--excellent articles, just for starters.
I also take a deep breath rounding the last corner of Poetry & Poets in Rags, which I started 10 years ago on July 25, 2003. This summer I'll be giving up both this column, and being managing editor for the InterBoard Poetry Community.
Thanks for clicking in.
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