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.)
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.
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.