Poet Eve Merriam did her final two years of undergraduate education at Penn in the mid-1930s. Later, someone writing a Masters thesis wrote about her experience at Penn: here is a page from that. I’m grateful to Merriam’s son, Dee Michel, who shared the document with me.
And a transformation within language, in the very syntax of thinking, feeling, and acting in an endangered and dangerous world.
Addressing what’s happening at this particular moment in our collective experience is a lot harder than it might seem. Not that “we” don’t tend to agree in broad terms about the extraordinary challenge of the present — we being those who might actually read this series, poets and others interested in poetry with “a certain edge.” Rather because there’s so much agreement, the situation seems in fact to need somewhat lessrepetitive comment within the “group.” I can’t think of anyone I know, for instance, who isn’t experiencing fear of the terrifying consequences of the Abominable Four: a Trump win, another SCOTUS right-winger, more climate disaster, unending pandemic.
We need a transformation in this country. We need a transformation in the world. We need a transformation of our system, of our values, of our opportunities, towards love and justice and community. That’s why I write. I don’t want to be a writer against Trump. I want to be a writer for transformation.
— Lina Srivastava, in video for Writers Against Trump[i]
Every four years, I run for President of the United States. I am currently conducting my eighth campaign. (But don’t vote for me! Vote for Biden-Harris, and play a part in the timely extinguishing of American fascism!)