Resistance #1 / by Poetry Lab

Our recent visiting author James Meetze asked, What do you need to repeat to yourself in order to resist? He provided us this poem by Danez Smith as inspiration. (We highly recommend reading all of it here.)

principles 

after JFK

i.

ask not what your country can do for you

ask if your country is your country

ask if your country belongs to your country folk

ask if your country is addicted to blood

ask if your country is addicted to forgetting

ask if your country is an oil & power fiend

ask if your country shakes at night starving

for bodies if bodies mean your country

keeps on being your country in the same ol’ ways

ask if your country was built of stolen land

and stolen breath, if democracy is a chain

tight as skin around your neck

ask if your comfort means elsewhere

someone is burying a daughter

ask if your comfort means round

the corner a man is dead cause a cop

mistook his body for a gun

ask if your comfort means broke schools

& food deserts on the other side of town

ask if your new apartment used to belong

to someone who couldn’t afford to look

like you, ask yourself if all the things

you are scared to admit are shovels

slowly filling up a brown boy’s throat.

[poem by Danez Smith. Continue reading here]

PROMPT: Write a poem using the phrase you repeat to yourself in order to resist as anaphora. An anaphora is the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of a line or sentence.

Example: In Smith's "Principles" the anaphora is "Ask if your country"

Or: Instead of using a traditional anaphora, write a serial poem that repeats or rehashes your resistance phrase throughout.  


James Meetze

For more on our upcoming visiting authors check out our Workshop page. 

James Meetze [pronounced Metz] is the author of I Have Designed This for You, Dayglo, winner of the 2010 Sawtooth Poetry Prize, and Phantom Hour published by Ahsahta Press. He is editor, with Simon Pettet, of Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems by James Schuyler (FSG, 2010). His work has also appeared in five chapbooks and numerous publications, including AGNI, A Public Space, American Letters & Commentary, The Rattling Wall, and New American Writing, among others. He lives in San Diego, where he teaches creative writing and film studies at Ashford University.